PAUL: A FAITHFUL FINISHER
SERIES: Unstoppable – The Book of Acts
Sunday, September 3, 2017
- 1,500 Biblical and historic church leaders – 1/3 finished well
- What does it mean to finish well?
- Vibrant, growing faith in Jesus to the end
- Show Christ-like character (Fruit of the Spirit) in their lives
- Live out what they believe with conviction
- Have one or more ultimate contributions
- What does it mean to finish well?
Paul is someone who finished well.
TEXT: Acts 28:30-31 (856)
30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
- Paul’s timeline:
- 57-59 AD Arrested in Jerusalem, held in prison by Felix
- 59-60 AD Tried by Festus, appeals to Caesar
- 60-62 AD House arrest in Rome (writes letters to Philippians,
Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon)
- 62-64 AD Released, travels to Spain, writes letters to Timothy and
- 65-68 AD Returns to Rome, arrested, beheaded under Nero’s reign
Paul finished well because he remained faithful to the end. And he had no idea how that faithfulness would pay off. He couldn’t read about himself in the Bible.
- He had no idea he had written half of the New Testament. He just loved the people and the churches he had helped start. So he wrote them pastoral letters to teach them and train them and encourage them and correct them.
- He traveled from city to city as God guided him and opened doors. He didn’t have a chart with goals for the # of churches he would start or how many converts he would make. He was just doing what Jesus had commissioned him to do.
- He didn’t know that the letters that he had written to groups of less than 100 people that met in houses for church would become the foundation for a movement that would change human history
Paul understood that God sees our lives from a different perspective than we do. He understood a couple things about God’s economy:
FAITHFULNESS > SUCCESS
FAITHFULNESS = REWARD
TEXT: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (915)
6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.
- Drink offering – poured on head of or alongside main sacrifice – Jesus is the sacrifice and I am poured out too
7 I have fought the good fight,
- I have FOUGHT
- “agonizomai” – compete, struggle, contend for a prize, compete in the games
I have finished the race,
- I have FINISHED
- “teleo” – completed, brought to an end (didn’t just end, I finished it)
- Not a treadmill (word for race = course)
and I have remained faithful.
- I have been FAITHFUL
- “pistis” – certainty of belief
8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
- Paul: Faithful, more than success is what matters, and I know God will reward my faithfulness
HOW DO WE REMAIN FAITHFUL AND FINISH WELL?
- Train, don’t try.
- There is a difference between TRAINING and TRYING
- 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (875)
- EX: Spiritual habits or disciplines (Bible, prayer, serving, giving, etc.)
- Surround yourself with the right people.
- Relationships determine the direction and quality of your life
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2 (927)
- Keep going.
- 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – Philippians 3:12-14 (901)
- Forget the past (good and bad) – focus on your next step – press on
And, at the end of it all, like Paul, you and I can hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Let’s finish well. Let’s remain faithful. Who knows what impact that can have on history.