Some perspectives Paul always kept in mind (with help from Tim Keller):
1. Life is a struggle.
Paul says, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
2. Death is an adventure.
The word departure was a way of talking about death, but it’s a fascinating way because it’s a word that means to untie. It was especially used for untying a boat so the boat could leave and go on a voyage. I want you to see this incredible balance Paul has, that the Bible has, with regard to death. When a boat unmoors and goes off, on the one hand it’s sad. It’s a departure. On the other hand, it’s exciting, because it’s a newness, it’s a journey, it’s a voyage, and it’s something new.
3. The gospel can’t be stopped
Why does Luke end not telling us at all what happens to Paul? Did he get a fair trial? Did he actually speak before Caesar? That was a big deal. Was he able to preach the gospel to Caesar? Did it ever happen? Luke doesn’t even tell you. All it tells you is … Here’s the last line. “The gospel is being preached with boldness and without hindrance.” Do you know the reason why we’re kind of saying, “Whatever happened to Paul?” and Luke doesn’t even tell you? Because the book is not about Paul. What is the story of the book of Acts about? It’s about the gospel, and it’s about the progress of the gospel. For Luke to end it this way is his way of saying, “Look at all this stuff the world threw at us. Look at the world. Look at the flesh. Look at the Devil. Look at all the opposition. Well, you can imprison people, you can kill people, but you can never imprison or kill the gospel. The gospel cannot be stopped.”
4. Ultimately, in the end, you only need one primary thing.
In some ways this is the key to the rest, and as I said, Paul knew there was only one thing in the end he really needed. Do you know what that is? Look here in 2 Timothy 4:16. “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” Then he says, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…”
Do you have a sense of his presence like this? You say, “Well, how do you get that?” I’ll tell you how Paul got it. It’s through the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is so much fear: Fear of authoritarianism. Fear of pandemic. Fear of personal safety. Fear of political uncertainty. Fear of economic collapse. Fear of failure.
Who is at your side?