YOU CAN’T LOCK UP THE GOSPEL
In II Timothy 2:9 Paul writes, “And because of this message, I am locked up in jail and treated like a criminal. But God’s good news isn’t locked in a jail.” When I was in Rome I visited the Mamertine Prison where Paul was imprisoned. It is also the place where Peter was imprisoned before he was martyred. The cell was small, dark and wet. This was the final place Paul was imprisoned before his martyrdom but not his only jail cell. He was also imprisoned in Caesarea on the coast of Israel and under house arrest in Rome. Paul spent over four years of his life in jail.
Paul had been seen in Jerusalem with Trophimus a Gentile from Ephesus and a rumor quickly spread that the apostle had taken “Greeks” into the temple and “defiled this holy place” (Acts 21:28) which was a capital offense. Forty men vowed to not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. Paul’s life was saved only when Roman officials intervened and took him under heavy guard (470 soldiers) to Caesarea where he was confined in Herod’s palace.
Over a period of time Paul was subjected to a series of interrogations. After two years had lapsed and it appeared that “justice delayed is justice denied,” he concluded that he would never receive a fair hearing under the present circumstances. And so exercising his right as a Roman citizen he appealed his case to Caesar.
Paul was then transported to Rome where he was put under house arrest. He was confined to his lodgings and handcuffed to a soldier who guarded him in four-hour shifts. The conditions under which Paul lived should have held back his efforts to proclaim the gospel but it actually helped to spread the good news. He was free to receive guests and talk with them about the gospel. Because of Paul the Roman Christians became bolder in their proclamation of the gospel. Amazingly Paul’s influence was such that even those who served in the Emperor’s palace had become Christ followers. (Phil 4:22)
While imprisoned Paul wrote five books of the Bible: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and II Timothy. The impact of these five epistles cannot even be measured. Throughout history Christian leaders have been put in jail. Even in modern times Dietrich Bohnhoeffer during Hitler’s reign and Martin Luther King during the civil rights era were put in prison.
But the gospel isn’t locked in a jail. Nothing or no one can stop the good news from being proclaimed. It is a force of transformation for all people. Even in a time when religious freedom is a point of political discussion this much is undeniable. You can’t lock up the gospel - it is the good news for everyone who believes.
About Rick McDaniel
Rick McDaniel is a noted author, international communicator and church leader. He is the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is known for its contemporary and innovative services and has a worldwide reach through www.highimpactchurch.tv. McDaniel has earned three degrees including an advanced degree from Duke University and is the author of six books including his latest "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks." He has traveled and spoken at conferences and churches worldwide spanning six continents.
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