Give me some of your reflections on Paul’s speech to the Éphésiens. His unwavering faith & love was declared in all transparency. Paul was moved to tears and he revealed everything he felt about his missions and how determined he was to reach Jerusalem. And again, Luke ‘s with them, a witness to Paul’s efforts, sufferings.
In this installment of Faithful Fridays, I share the thoughts I sent my Mom over for her Bible study group. This will be the first time I do this, and I took up the task with a lot of enthusiasm 😀 ! My little discussion below was highly influenced by pastoral messages and discipleship classes from Victory Fort Bonifacio.
Starting from the end of the Gospels, Acts and the following letters underline Jesus’ command (Matthew 28:16-20 NKJV) :
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Paul’s devotion also echoes that of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8):
[Also] I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
It has been taught in Christian circles that every person saved is a missionary; and every unsaved person is a mission field. We are so precious to God that when Jesus went and rose to Heaven, He didn’t tell his disciples to “Go and attend mass every Sunday!”, or “Go and make yourselves rich!” — He left us with what is in his heart: to bring God’s children back to Him.
Jesus is given all authority in heaven and earth. And with that same authority, we are commanded (not a request, not a plea) to go and disciples of all nations. He didn’t promise riches and comfort for his disciples. Jesus was radical in His teachings that he did not sugarcoat what it takes to follow Him (John 15:18-21):
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
Acts 20 shows first, Paul’s struggles before he left Ephesus, but later, we are shown his joy — not happiness that depends on happenings, but genuine joy in God that keeps him going (2 Corinthians 11:24-28) :
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
It’s a joy that is fueled by satisfaction in Jesus and His victory over sin and death on the Cross. Knowing that the penalty for sin is death — regardless of gravity! Sin, no matter how small we may believe it is, has us missing the mark from God’s perfection. Jesus’ rising from the dead shows that sin and its penalty of death has NO power over Him! He has overcome the world (John 16:20-22,33):
20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. (…) 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
It is such a beautiful promise from Our Savior! See, Paul has had the scales removed from his eyes — physically, and spiritually. He realized, that the life that he will live in this world is limited and short, compared to the eternity that he will be spending with Jesus Christ.
Muhammad Ali, in one of his interviews, described eternity like the Sahara: every 1000 years, you’re allowed to take a grain of sand. How much longer will it take for you to exhaust the Sahara? How does that compare to the 60, 70, 80 years a human will spend on this earth?
And that is where the Good News lies: because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross, because He who is without sin became sin, because He defeated sin and death, because He tore the veil that used to separate man from God; we are able to approach God at the throne of grace and mercy. In faith, by declaring that Jesus is Lord and surrendering our lives to Him, we have joy in the unmerited privilege — the grace — that the all-powerful, ever living, unchanging God is for us; and we will spend eternity with Him.
Paul knew that truth — we now know that truth. Jesus died for us as He did for him, and therefore we live for Jesus.