by Kathy Howard
Billy Graham spent his life taking the Gospel to the world. According to estimates, Graham preached in almost two hundred nations and territories. About 215 million attended his events. Two billion more heard Graham via radio and television. Most importantly, estimates of how many responded to his invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior exceed two million souls.
We can’t statistically measure the impact of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. But both Scripture and history prove that the Holy Spirit used him to launch the Gospel like a rocket across the world. Not even the chains of his Roman imprisonment impeded his ministry. God simply brought the lost to Paul, including an early opportunity to preach to a big crowd of curious Jews.
“When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. 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” (Acts 28:23 ESV).
Picture an ancient version of a Billy Graham crusade. Great numbers of lost Jews showed up to hear Paul preach. And he preached all day! From the Law and the Prophets, Paul presented Scriptural evidence to persuade them that Jesus was the Messiah they’d been waiting for. Like those who hear the Gospel today, some believed, but many others rejected the evidence and did not believe.
“He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30-31 ESV).
Luke’s account of Paul’s two-year house arrest is brief, but other Bible passages show that Paul was not idle. He wrote many letters to encourage and instruct churches and ministers. Four of them – Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon – are part of the biblical canon. Paul also used his rented house as a hub for ministry. Some ministry partners consistently stayed with him and others – like Timothy – came and went as they continued the evangelistic work outside Rome. Believers from other churches also visited, like Epaphroditus who brought financial aid and encouragement from the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 2:25).
But what happened after the book of Acts ended? The Holy Spirit powerfully propelled the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and all the way to Rome (Acts 1:8). But for those of us who want to know more, Scripture and church tradition offer clues. Likely, Paul was released (Philemon 22, Philippians 1:19-26, 2:24) and continued his evangelistic work for a few more years (1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 3:12). Then, based on Scripture (2 Timothy 4:6-7) and early church tradition, Paul was arrested a second time in the mid-60’s AD and beheaded by order of Emperor Nero.
The end of the book of Acts is not the end of the story. The Holy Spirit’s work to take the Gospel to the world has continued through the millennia all the way to today. And now it’s our story. It’s our commission. We hold the baton. We cannot be silent. JESUS CHRIST is the hope of the world.
Pray: Lord Jesus, You alone are the hope of a lost world. Open my heart to the great need of the lost and open my mouth to boldly proclaim Your name.
This post is adapted from “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts.”
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.
Here’s more about “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts”
Pack your bags and join Kathy Howard for the journey of a lifetime. You’ll experience the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit, witness the birth of the church, and walk the dusty roads alongside those first missionaries as they boldly share the Gospel of Jesus with the world.
This volume of Deep Rooted — will show you how to interact with and apply Scripture, not just read it. These meaty daily devotions use a simple study framework designed to help you:
- Develop a regular habit of spending quality time in God’s Word
- Learn how to dig into Scripture on your own
- Foster a desire to share the gospel with others
- Depend on the Holy Spirit as you follow Jesus
Finally, a devotional with some meat on its bones!