The Gift of Perseverance

We are often asking God for closure and looking for it as we end seasons. The book of Acts does not end in a neat fashion. No bow is tied and not much of the plot is resolved. Instead, it ends with Paul faithfully awaiting a trial and continuing to serve people and preach the gospel. Here, in this story at the end of the book of Acts, we are invited to receive God’s strange gift of perseverance: as Eugene Peterson said, we are invited to “a long obedience in the same direction,” no matter the results.

Teaching Notes

Weariness is a common feature of the Christian life.

 

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

-Acts 28:30-31

 

"Luke's narrative was not about Paul. We make a terrible mistake if we make this singularly Paul's story. Even at its close, with Paul on the center stage, this is not first his story, but the story of another. It is the story of an urgently longing God who has bound the divine life to the frailty of flesh...God came to Rome. Paul came to Rome. These are two completely different sentences joined together simply by the Holy Spirit."

-Willie James Jennings, Acts

Perseverance defined in three sentences: 

  1. One foot in front of the other in Jesus Christ
  2. Doing that which you said you would do consistently over a long period of time.
  3. Continuing in commitment to something long after the mood in which the commitment was made has passed

When you know God’s plan and God’s power, you will grow in perseverance

 

  1. Value God’s global and eternal plan over the world’s trends (Acts 28:23-28)

 

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: God works throughout the entire planet, including right here.

14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage

-Acts 28:14-16

 

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE: God works outside of your short lifespan

“The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet...you will listen and not hear, you will see but never perceive…for this people’s heart has grown dull…28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” 

-Acts 28:25-27

 

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.

-Acts 28:23-24

 

Why be suspicious of trends?

 

Reason 1: data and cultural obsessions fail to capture theological power.

 

Reason 2: The gospel has offended every culture it has ever gone into. 

 

Reason 3: When the trends change, our mission does not.

 

  1. Trust God’s power to accomplish God’s plans. (Acts 28:30-31)

 

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

-Acts 28:30-31

 

Why is God’s power trustworthy?

 

Reason 1: God’s power works in all circumstances.

 

Reason 2: God’s power works in all seasons

 

Reason 3: God’s power enables us to persevere

 

“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

-G.K. Chesterton

 

"A fashionably vague maybe-ism doesn’t evoke the liberating powers of New Testament Christianity." 

-Ray Ortlund

Scripture

  • Acts 28:17-31
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