First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Christ the King Sunday ~ November 21, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“The Triumph of the Gospel!”
Acts 28:30-31; Philippians 4:21-23
This morning we get to our final destination as we wrap up our study in the book of Acts. Since April, I have delivered 28 sermons from the book of Acts shedding some light on the story of the Early Church, the dynamics of sharing the gospel, and highlighting some key characters who shaped the ministry and mission of the Church of Jesus Christ.
As we get to the final words of Luke in Acts 28, we understand that the apostle Paul made it to Rome. He is now under house arrest waiting for his trial before Caesar. Yet, we can also feel the triumph of the gospel. This is what Luke says in his concluding words in Acts 28:30-31, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”
Writing to the Church in Philippi from his prison cell in Rome, Paul said these words in Philippians 4:21-22, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household.” So a seed that had been planted in Israel made it all the way to Rome. A message that Jesus preached in Galilee reaches now the end of the earth. In fact, it reached the house of Caesar. “All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household.”
I find it fascinating that our last lesson of our sermon series in the book of Acts falls on Christ the King Sunday; a time when the Church of Jesus Christ across the globe gets to remember that Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Though we don’t see everything subject to Him at the moment, a time will come that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Two short observations as we wrap up our Acts series on this Christ the King Sunday:
First: Be Assured that the Gospel of Christ is Unhindered
The last word of the Book of Acts in the Greek text is the word akolutos. Literally it means “unhindered.” This is very unusual conclusion to the book of Acts. Most of the New Testament books end with a blessing to the audience, or a word of encouragement, or just a simple “amen.”
Luke clearly wanted to highlight the triumph and victory of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. “Last words are lasting words,” applies well here. The Book of Acts traces the birth and growth of the church. The gospel went forth in power. As the Book of Acts begins there were only a few hundred believers in Jesus Christ ~ 120 to be exact. As the gospel did its work, however, tens of thousands came to Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the Gentile lands. The gospel is unhindered.
There was so much opposition. Persecution, beatings, death, and imprisonment all threatened the spread of the gospel. So, too, did sinfulness within the church as well as false teachings. However, in spite of all the opposition and difficulties, Luke sums up the progress of the gospel by saying that it was unhindered. It was unstoppable.
I believe that Luke was stating a principle of timeless application here. He did not merely mean that the gospel was unhindered in the first century. He meant that the gospel was, is, and always will be unhindered. Luke had repeatedly made this same claim using different words throughout the Book of Acts (Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). One commentator has said concerning the last word in Acts, “Nothing that people can do can stop the progress and ultimate victory of the gospel” (I. Howard Marshall, Acts, Tyndale Series, p.427).
Second: The Story is Not Over Yet
Yes, in these last words, Luke wanted us to know that nothing will stop the progress of the gospel. Nothing will destroy God’s plans for broken humanity. But there is another great truth in here too. In stating that the gospel had already reached Rome and that it’s unhindered, Luke is basically telling us that the story is not over yet. It’s true that through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our salvation is finished and sealed. Yet, the greatest story needs to be told and shared. That’s why Acts has an open-ended conclusion. As I pointed out, Luke didn’t write a formal conclusion to Acts. He even didn’t tell us whether Paul was martyred or released from arrest because his focus was on the unhindered spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth-not on Paul’s fate.
The story is not over yet. It continues. One chapter ends and another begins. Acts 28 is the end of Luke’s account of the story of the Early Church, but it’s not the end of God’s acts. The story of God’s transformative power continues to unfold in the lives of God’s people today. The power of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth is evident in a sinner saved by God’s grace today. The power of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth continues in a seed planted in the heart of a young child. The power of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth continues in the life of a follower of Jesus who takes their discipleship to the next level. The power of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth continues in the faithfulness proclamation of the gospel. The story is not over yet.
Friends, the triumph is for the grace of God. The victory is for the gospel of Jesus Christ. God will always be faithful to His promises. The darker the night, the sooner the dawn arrives. Whether it’s in our lifetime or in a later time, Christ will visit America again. So lift up your heads, people of God. We serve an amazing God. We follow a mighty God. Lift up your heads people of God, for God, our God, is strong and faithful. Lift up your heads people of God and let the King of Glory come in. For it is through Him, anything is possible. Be encouraged, stay grounded in His Word, and keep your eyes looking forward and toward Christ from where your help comes from. Keep sharing and keep telling the story of God’s faithfulness in our world till all the world adore His scared name. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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