Friday, February 1, 2013
“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).
You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….
In the first half of Acts chapter 18, Paul is on his secondary apostolic journey (circa A.D. 54). He arrives in Corinth, a port city adjacent to Athens (southern Greece). After preaching there some Sabbath days—indicating weeks—the Jews begin to “oppose themselves” (verse 6). They do not want to hear that they have killed their Messiah; they refuse to believe that their prophetic program is passing away. Paul, like earlier in Acts 13:46, announces to Israel that God is now ministering to Gentiles without her: “From henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). Understandably, they grow upset! “God is saving those wretched, pagan Gentiles [us]?!”
Paul fears what these unbelieving Jews might do now that Crispus, the chief of the synagogue, his household, and other Corinthians, have trusted Christ (verse 8). “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (verses 9,10). Paul continues preaching in Corinth for 18 months (verse 11), no man killing him… yet!
About six years later, Paul is in Ephesus (western Turkey). He convenes with the Ephesian church leaders, informing them that he now goes to Jerusalem, “not knowing the things that shall befall [him] there” (Acts 20:22). Still, Paul explains what he does know: “The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds [chains/imprisonments] and afflictions [troubles] abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (verses 23,24).
Paul’s attitude should be our attitude. Persecution should not discourage us, nor should it silence us. We have the Gospel of the Grace of God to preach, so let us do that boldly!