Sharing our faith is often not easy or without push-back. Despite the fact that many people were believing the Gospel message (vs8), there was also rising opposition in Corinth to God’s word (vs6). It is very easy to get discouraged from stepping out and serving God, sharing your faith, using your gifts!
God didn’t want Paul discouraged, didn’t want him to step back so God comes to him in the night in a vision/dream and says to Paul;
“DO NOT BE AFRAID, BUT GO ON SPEAKING AND DO NOT BE SILENT, 10 FOR I AM WITH YOU, AND NO ONE WILL ATTACK YOU TO HARM YOU, FOR I HAVE MANY IN THIS CITY WHO ARE MY PEOPLE.” (ACTS 18:9-10)
God essentially encourages Paul in three ways;
- I am with you!
- No one will attack you to harm you!
- I have chosen/elected many in this city for salvation so your work is not in vain!
Firstly, knowing God is with us is often all we need to keep going, to persevere. I identify with this. So often this is all I need to know, God saying I am with you Gareth keep going. Do you need to know that today? God promises us in Hebrews 13:5; “I will never leave you nor forsake you” – so be encouraged!
Secondly, Paul has shown already that he doesn’t value his safety above his call to preach the Gospel. He has already suffered for Jesus and been stoned etc, but God seems to know that he needs encouragement and so promises him that in Corinth he won’t be attacked and he isn’t attacked despite opposition. God knows we are fragile in our thinking, knows what we can handle and here he encourages Paul with a promise of safety in Corinth – carry on you will be safe and he is safe during those 18months there as he taught the Corinthians (vs11). God knows you and I, knows what we can handle and will not put us in a situation beyond what we can handle, how good to know that God knows our particular capacity for opposition/suffering and He cares for us in the midst of trials. God knows what we need to keep going serving Him!
Thirdly, God then encourages Paul by telling him that his preaching/teaching in Corinth will not be in vain but will bear fruit because God has already chosen/elected/predestined people in the city of Corinth that when they hear the Gospel – they will believe God. God says; ‘I have many in this city who are my people’ (vs10). These are elect people who are yet to hear the Gospel, but when they do they will respond to it and believe. This is a huge encouragement to Paul and so he stays there and preaches for 18months more having in vs6 wanted to throw in the towel and wash his hands of them. He stayed convinced that there would be ministry fruitfulness because God had gone before him as it were and that people would be saved and added to the church – the church would grow through people being saved. Do you need encouragement in sharing your faith? Sometimes we can be tempted to feel this person or that person won’t believe, but God is the ONE who saves people not us, we just need to play our part and share the Gospel – proclaiming it with our words and demonstrating it with our lives and God will save people.
May God encourage you today with these words. Amen
Written by Gareth Bowley