Acts 20:17-21 ESV
“Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
During Paul’s years of ministry on the earth he was strongly opposed left and right by the same people who opposed Jesus Christ, not necessarily by the same exact individual people, though it could have been, but he was opposed by his own people, the Jews, and by the religious rulers in the temple, just as Jesus was. For most of them were against Jesus, of whom Paul spoke, and they were against the teachings of Christ which Paul taught.
So, much in the same way that Jesus suffered persecution when he was on this earth Paul also suffered. Paul was beaten, he was falsely accused, he was hounded and harassed and verbally and physically attacked. And he was falsely arrested and imprisoned and not given justice, and he had people desert (abandon, forsake) him, too. And from time to time, for the sake of the gospel, he was called upon to defend not only the gospel but himself.
Paul, who had once (as Saul) been a persecutor of Christians himself, had been transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God. Jesus had met him in a vision of sorts while he was on the way to Damascus to arrest and to persecute and to perhaps even to put to death those who were followers of Jesus Christ. And Jesus asked him why he was persecuting him. And then Jesus made a statement to him that basically told him that, in his zeal for persecuting Christians, he was resisting God. He was fighting against God.
And then the Lord let him know what he wanted him to do: “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18)
And so, from that moment forward Saul (later called Paul) was a new man in Christ. He wasn’t the same man as he was before. He once was a persecutor of Christians and now the Lord used him to lead many people to faith in Jesus Christ and to help establish the New Testament church, and to write letters to people and to church fellowships, many of which are now in our Bibles, and from which we, too, are also able to hear from God. Paul taught us the gospel of Jesus Christ and how we are to live as followers of Jesus.
He told King Agrippa many years later, as he was sharing his testimony with him, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:19-20)
And that gospel that Paul taught us was the gospel contained in God’s calling upon Paul’s life and ministry and that Paul shared with King Agrippa and that he wrote about in his letters to individuals and to multiple church fellowships. And that is that we are to be turned from darkness (sin) to light (Jesus, truth, righteousness, the gospel message), and from the power and control of Satan over our lives, to come under God’s control so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified in Christ.
He taught that we must repent (make a spiritual U-turn away from sin in order to now follow Jesus with our lives), and that we must demonstrate our true repentance by our deeds (by what we do in obedience to our Lord). And this was his message all throughout his writings that we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. He taught that sin should no longer be our master but Jesus only should be Lord.
And it was for this message that he was being persecuted. And if we preach and/or teach the same message he taught, and that Jesus and the other New Testament apostles taught, we will also be persecuted. Especially right now here in America with so much of the church going the way of the world and diluting the gospel message to something that is not the gospel, if we teach the truth, we are going to be verbally attacked and falsely accused and hounded and harassed and called names and rejected and forsaken.
Acts 20:22-24 ESV
“And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Paul knew, though, that obeying the Lord Jesus Christ meant he would be persecuted and that it could mean his death if he continued to preach the gospel, especially in certain places where he had been persecuted before. But he was not afraid, not that he enjoyed being persecuted, for he had many physically painful persecutions throughout his ministry. But he was willing to give up his life for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel and in order to see people delivered from their slavery to sin.
I love these words: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” And this should be the attitude of all of Jesus’ followers. We should be so dedicated to our Lord and to his ministry that we count our own lives of no value other than to finish the course and the ministry that we have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Amen!
Why Are You Afraid?
An Original Work / December 5, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.
Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.
Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.
Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.
Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.
Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.
Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?
Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.