“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.” (Acts 28:30-31)
We learned many beautiful lessons about faith in God. Can you memorize the key verse of this conference, Mark 11:22? “’Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.” Let’s recall Jesus’ point: If anyone says to a mountain to go and throw itself into the sea and believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them, which means 'God will do it for them.' We cannot move a mountain, but God does it through our faith and prayer. Jesus promised this to 'anyone.' Many of us including the speakers of this conference have experienced changes like a mountain moving miracle in life. I believe that our great God called us for even greater things. Do you believe that you can be the one who can make such a great thing like moving a huge mountain happen? Let's think about a mountain-moving faith through Apostle Paul’s example.
Apostle Paul had longed for preaching the gospel in Rome. Finally he came to Rome chained like a criminal. He was confined in his own rented house with a soldier to guard him, waiting for Caesar’s trial. Have you ever heard of a prison for rent? Anyway Paul had to pay for each day of his confinement. Paul’s trial dragged on for two years. He was expecting suffering after suffering, with little hope of peaceful retirement. However, what amazes us is that he never once left a hint of complaint, sorrow or despair. Instead he said in his letter to the Philippians which he wrote during his confinement, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Php 4:4) Paul never viewed his confinement as a barrier to the gospel, but rather as a God-given opportunity (Php 1:12). What made Paul live above all circumstances? We can find the answers in his two other prison epistles as well (Ephesians and Colossians). Paul was filled with praise because of the riches of God’s grace and blessings lavished on him and God’s people (Eph 1:3-14, Col 3:1-4). God chose him when he was dead in sin. God forgave him and made him alive for a new life through the blood of Christ. By giving him the Holy Spirit, God sanctified him to participate in divine nature. Furthermore God sealed the promise of the resurrection of his body and inheritance of God’s eternal kingdom. Can you imagine the glory of the kingdom of God? What amazing grace and blessings for a wretched sinner doomed for destruction! Do you know that these are exactly what God has also given to each of us? Paul’s heart overflowed with joy and thanksgiving because of God’s love and hope of glory. Shouldn’t we rejoice and praise God as Paul did? When Paul remembered the riches of God’s grace and blessings, even prison changed into a paradise.
What did Paul do in his situation? He welcomed all who came to him and studied the Word of God with them. He believed that the gospel is the power of God that would transform Rome (Ro 1:16). The soldiers who came to guard him were never run-away Bible students. By faith he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught them about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord worked with him. Many soldiers, officers and their families believed and through them even Caesar’s household came to Bible study with Paul. Paul’s one-to-one and small group Bible study ministry in a rented house seemed insignificant in the eyes of the world. But God did an amazing thing through faith and prayers of Paul and his coworkers. God changed the Roman Empire into a Christian nation 250 years later. Indeed God threw the mountain of Rome’s godlessness into the sea. The life of Apostle Paul and the early Christians testify that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Heb 11:1).
Through this, the Holy Spirit teaches us how we can have a mountain-moving faith. Most likely you have never been confined anywhere for two years. Neither have I. But in one way or other we all live in a rented prison house situation of our own. You may feel chained to your limitations. You may feel chained to your family or job responsibilities. Or perhaps you may feel chained to your past, unable to escape the restrictive circumstances or feelings. Maybe you have lived this way for long that negative thinking has become a habit. I’ve got wonderful news for you: There is hope beyond your circumstances. Let’s have faith in God. You can find God’s wondrous provisions, a great opportunity in your situation. If Paul could live above his unbelievably crying circumstances, so can you and me. When we remember the riches of God’s grace and blessings, the Holy Spirit fills us with hope and joy and we are more than conquerors.
The book of Acts ends with the words, “with all boldness and without hindrance.” This is a triumphal note. Actually Paul was neither bold in speech nor impressive in person (2Co 10:10). But when he had faith in God, the Holy Spirit gave him power to testify to the gospel (Ac 1:8). When we have faith in God, the Holy Spirit gives us all boldness not fearing anything, even death. No one can stop God’s work. Even when we are chained, God’s word is not chained (2Ti 2:9).
The work of the Holy Spirit continues today. As did Rome in the first century, Europe today needs the gospel. The gospel is the power of God that can transform Europe. The gospel is the hope of all European people. As God sent Paul and other servants to transform Rome, I believe God has called us to transform Europe. God's work is always possible through faith and prayer. Let’s believe that we are where we are in our own situations by divine appointment to preach the gospel. Let's believe that the power of the gospel will transform Europe. And let's keep the lamp of prayer burning to offer to God fragrant incence of prayer for Europe and the world. For the new generation who are here, I'd like to encourage you to embrace God's hope and vision for your life and become history makers and changers for Europe and the world. Many will reject the gospel, but many whom God has prepared will accept it. Let’s welcome all whom God send to us and by faith proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will give us power. Our one-to-one Bible study and discipleship ministry may look insignificant in the eyes of the world. But the Lord works with us. Through our Bible study and discipleship ministry for European campuses, God will throw the mountain of Europe’s secular humanism and hedonism into the Atlantic Ocean, bringing a great spiritual revival to Europe. Amen.
I'd like to encourage all of you to
(1) Believe the power of the gospel that will transform Europe;
(2) Keep praying for spiritual revival of the European countries;
(3) Rekindle zeal for one-to-one and small group Bible study ministry;
(4) Pray to reach out the Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa.