So many times throughout the Scriptures the Bible gives us examples of people who try to stop the plan of God from advancing.
Just two weeks ago, we heard the Easter story. Just think about the people who had a plan to stop Jesus from advancing his cause. The chief priests and Pharisees plotted against him. Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. Pilate sentenced him to be crucified. A centurion even pierced Jesus in the side to make sure he was dead. The Roman government, along with the chief priests and Pharisees, came up with a plan to but a giant rock in front of his tomb. A guard was even set in place next to the tomb. And all of this was done to stop Jesus from advancing his cause in the world. Well…how did that work out??? We know the answer, don’t we? Christ rose from the dead, overcoming death and all those who tried to stand in his way, and through the power of God the gospel continued to advance in the world. In fact, the resurrection now stands as the central event and climax of God’s redemptive work. Yes, Jesus overcame all the sufferings and hardships of his enemies only to further the advancement of the gospel in the world.
The same lesson is displayed in our text today, for just as there were people who tried to stop Jesus, there were also many people who tried to stop the Apostle Paul. Paul was beaten, stoned, despised, arrested, shipwrecked, arrested again, and ultimately sent to prison in Rome for the sake of the gospel. You might think that these types of things would stop any man from advancing the cause of Christ…but not the Apostle Paul! Paul’s situation in life, even the persecution he had suffered, did not deter him at all. In fact, Paul remained very bold in his faith, even in that Roman prison, and he began to share the gospel in prison. The Bible says the whole palace guard found out about it and that other people became more bold in their faith because of it! So even though Rome tried to stop Paul from advancing the gospel, the gospel actually advanced all the more!
So one of the main lessons we learn is this: God uses the sufferings of his people to advance the gospel in the world. This is a hard truth, but a truth nonetheless. Paul could have complained, whined, griped, or have been extremely frustrated…but he didn’t. He was content in all his circumstances and even chose to use the most difficult times of his life as a witness for Christ. The question that we must answer is, “Will we do the same?”
Rev. Adam Mumpower, Senior Pastor