Sermon in a nutshell: “Expect Opposition against Gospel!” (Acts 21:15-36)
I frequently go to the gym for exercise. I have found one principle there to be true. To train ourselves, we have to work out using resistance. Without resistance, we cannot grow our muscles. For our muscles to grow stronger, we need greater resistance. At first we might be able to lift 5 pounds but then, after a couple of days, 5 pounds feels too light and so we try to lift 10 pounds. In this way, we keep adding pounds and then we can lift up heavier things and have bigger muscles.
We have to apply the same principle to our spiritual muscles. In order to train our spiritual muscles, we need challenges. When we overcome small challenges, we develop small spiritual muscles. So then we need bigger challenges to handle the bigger issues in our lives. When we have small spiritual muscles, the small issues in our lives bother us a lot. When we have bigger spiritual muscles, we are able to handle the bigger issues without trouble or anxiety. We cannot live life without having troubles. Our spiritual muscles can help us to go through life’s troubles with confidence.
All of us come to church to train such spiritual muscles. If we stop training, the muscles will go away easily. When we stop working out, all the muscles will go away sooner or later. That is why it is important for us to come to worship, Bible Study, small groups, prayer meetings and church mission and ministry activities continuously. Those are called “means of Grace.” We do not know when we will need those muscles!
We have read the story about the apostle Paul. He had experienced lots of troubles. Then he became like Mr. Giant in terms of spiritual muscles. He could handle persecution without complaints. He could be flexible in all situations to spread the Gospel. He could be like a Jew in order to reach some Jews. He could be like the Greeks in order to reach some Greeks. He learned all the ways to be a messenger of the Good News of Jesus.
When he visited Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders asked him to go through the purification rite to calm down the religious extremists. Even though Paul did not have to keep the laws for his own salvation, he went through all those troubles to have peace with the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.
However, the Jews from Asia still wanted to kill Paul. This was a bigger challenge. They used sheer violence. They did not care for due process. They did not give credit to Paul because he had gone through the purification rite. They simply wanted to kill him. However, God used the Roman soldiers to spare Paul’s life. The Bible says that “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Brothers and sisters! When we try to bring people to Christ, we should expect opposition. We need such resistance to grow our spiritual muscles. Without those spiritual muscles, we cannot lift up any heavy troubles in our lives. When we cannot solve them, God will intervene for God’s people. However, God wants us to also grow our own spiritual muscles.
When we face challenges in our lives, just welcome them and use them as a great opportunity to grow. In the end, we will finish our works here on earth and we will be freed from our ministries. Till then, God will continuously support us with spiritual muscles and aids. With confidence, go into the world to do God’s works!
- What are the challenges that you are facing now?
- Do you have means of Grace that you can handle those challenges?