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. And some were convinced by what he said but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves they departed after Paul made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet-“Go to this people and say: You will indeed hear but never understand and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed lest they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and turn-and I would heal them.” Acts 28:23b-27.
We can present the Word of God, the Gospel, fervently, passionately, logically, and faithfully-and there will be some that believe and others that won’t. There is a reason for that and that reason should be what is responded by us in faith, trusting in the Sovereignty of the Most High God. And then, what does it reveal to me?
I would contend that Paul might have been the most prepared to bring the Gospel to the nations post-ascension. In Chapter 28 the Bible testifies of Paul being knowledgeable, theologically apt, patient with others, willing to endure hardships, prepared to speak of his Hope, and oh yeah: has a miracle or 10 of healing to toss around. I would say Paul was faithful.
There are two things that I see out of this passage: 1) Can’t say it enough-Paul is faithful!! Not just faithful for the moment but long suffering faithfulness, patient faithfulness, not ignoring the moment but not letting the moment fill his vision. Paul sees past the immediate and in faithful hope sees the future without discouragement.
The second thing I see is: calm analysis of the situation. Despite spending his time expounding, preaching, having dialog, conversing and yes, some arguing may be implied-Paul accurately, rationally, and emotionally embraces that God is Sovereign-some will be drawn by the Holy Spirit and believe, others will not.
Right on out there: Some will and some won’t. Should we frail and feeble folk get discouraged when we don’t lead a countywide revival right here, right now? Nah, we shouldn’t-but we do and will. Why is that? Don’t know about you readers but I have this expectation of defined success a mile wide up my 24 inch back. I used to think an expectation of success was the requisite thought and emotion of Faith. Now, I am not so sure.
You see, the object of being successful was ME. I expected to be successful. God working through ME!! What a crock. A huge crock. I wanted the glory that belongs to God alone. Note: I noticed that I wrote “wanted”-not true. I still struggle with that “Me before Him” issue daily. I want the glory. I would bet we all do.
If we ask God to not spare our feelings and show us where we want seeking out glory instead of His, He will do that-because I am sure that asking for our faults to be shown is right there in the wheelhouse of His Will. Maybe then (and in faith) we can imitate Paul in a couple of ways.
Lord God, Father. You say: Ask whatever I want in Your Will and you will be faithful to provide it. What could be more in Your Will than to ask for You to reveal our sin? For You to make us mature and faithful? For showing this stuff so that we can mortify the old man? Help me to shed the façade of being a Christian and dig deep into what it means to be a disciple. AMEN.