Throughout today’s reading and yesterday’s reading as well, we are told of the arrest and imprisonment of the apostle Paul while in Israel. He testifies before several different people in authority before eventually being sent to Rome to presumably face Caesar. He spends as much as two years in jail under Felix’s watch.
Why did God allow Paul to be in chains for so long before ultimately going to Rome to spend even more time in jail until his death? I am certain this time was not without purpose. One key from this passage that stands out to me is found in chapter 26, beginning in verse 25:
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul was afforded opportunities to influence high ranking officials that he likely would not have had were it not for him ending up in chains. He had those same opportunities in Rome. And as we know, Rome eventually became the center of the Christian world. It wasn’t until 313 AD, however, that the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which accepted Christianity: 10 years later, it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. So it took a while after the death of Paul (approximately 62-64 AD), but I believe the two are linked.
We have had many opportunities ourselves to influence people by our actions and by our words. Some of these times have been very intentional, as when we try to minister to someone, or very unintentional, as when perhaps someone we don’t even know notices something different about us because of our faith.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to see some of the impact we can have on others. But more often than not, we will never know what fruit our actions and words will bear in others.
But that’s OK. All we can do, much like Paul, is to do the best we can, and then allow God to develop the seeds that we have spread. One thing is certain though. You have to plant seeds in order for them to grow. What are you doing to plant seeds in others? Do something! Be an encourager. Share your faith. Or just be really kind to others. You never know what kind of amazing impact you can have, even if you don’t see it.
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 24-26.
This is the first of 5 straight days going through the book of Romans. That’s not much time for a book loaded with so many great refrigerator verses. This is also my favorite book to read through, and something different stands out to me almost every time I read from it. So my intent is to share one or two things that stood out to me THIS TIME from each section.
Romans 1:16 says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
I hope you are not ashamed of the Gospel. I do understand the temptation to be somewhat embarrassed or secretive of it. Many of the ideas and truths in scripture are no longer “acceptable” in today’s progressive world. That’s not really new, but it seems to be more true than ever before. I think we also are often afraid of appearing foolish for believing many of the miraculous aspects of scripture, up to and including the existence of a Creator God.
1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.“
We as believers must live by faith. We have never seen God. We did not witness the mighty miracles recorded in the Bible. But thankfully, we do not have a blind faith that is not backed up by evidence. We have had life changing experiences due to our decision to accept Christ. We have had direct answers to prayers. We have an abundance of historical documents and artifacts that confirm scripture. We also have evidence of our faith all around us and even inside of us.
1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Simply put, we can know there is a Creator because we reside in His creation. You can know there is a Creator because you are reading this right now, and YOU were created! Well, at least that’s what scripture tells us. But the secular world has different ideas, doesn’t it? The secular world is only interested in what can be proven. Or at least that is what they claim. This is where the foolishness comes in. We Christians are viewed as foolish for believing “a big guy in the sky” made everything in nature, when science has clearly shown that all living things have evolved from a common ancestor over millions of years. Those who deny Darwinian evolution are mocked by its adherents.
Either the world was created or it wasn’t, and those who fall on the wrong side of belief in this area probably are foolish. So which side does the actual evidence back? As a side note, I have presented this very topic at churches and camps in the course of hours and sometimes days, so this is going to be a VERY abbreviated version of that.
As a Creationist, my confidence in the world being created is because everything actually appears to be created. Staunch evolutionist Richard Dawkins even admits that (though he proposes that possibly aliens created our world). Again, if everything appears to be created, then there is likely a Creator.
Perhaps the best evidence that living things specifically are created is the DNA found within every living cell of every living thing, including you. This DNA is essentially a programming code, much like your computer uses, but DNA is much more complex. Bill Gates has said that DNA is a more complex code or programming language than any of his best programmers could have created. Languages and codes do not arise by chance, and to suggest otherwise is actual foolishness. Beyond that, living cells themselves, as well as the systems that they combine to create, are so unbelievably complex, that they are beyond the law of probability to have evolved by chance.
So to believe in a Creator does still require faith, because we have not seen our Creator. But it is not a blind faith, because we have ample evidence that we reside in His creation.
On the other hand, if you do not believe in a Creator, then you also must have a large amount of faith. You must have faith that something can come from nothing (even though this has never been demonstrated to be possible) because this is how big bang theorists imagine the universe started. You must have faith that living things can come from non-living things (even though this has never been demonstrated to be possible) because this is how most secular thinkers imagine life began. And you must have faith that less complex organisms can become more complex over time, completely by chance (even though this has never been demonstrated to be possible) because this is the essence of a belief in Darwinian evolution.
Do not be ashamed of the faith that we hold dear. It is indeed a faith-based belief system, but not a blind faith. And keep in mind that those that do not share our faith have also been created by our Great God, and are also loved by Him. If we have opportunities to share our faith and the reasons we believe with non-believers, I sure hope you will take them. In the end, they will be without excuse if they have not accepted Christ, but what a shame it would be if they had an opportunity to hear truth from someone like you, and you passed on that opportunity.