Thursday, May 22, 2014


Acts 13:49, “And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”

The exciting message of the book of Acts is not just how the gospel spread but how it spread in spite of intense opposition.  The opposition was ongoing and pervasive and was directed towards the church in a variety of ways.  God’s work done God’s way for God’s glory will always be met with opposition, but Jesus has promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  His purpose cannot be thwarted.

There are those who seek to DESTROY the church.  Saul himself had been amongst them: “breathing threats and murders against the disciples” (Acts 9:1).  King Herod was also: “Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church” (Acts 12:1).  He had James the brother of John put to death, then he arrested Peter and had him put in prison (Cf. Acts 12:2-4).  But Peter was set free (Cf. Acts 12:7f) and God dealt with Herod and “the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).

There are those who DESERT the ministry.  God called Barnabas and Saul to go forth from Antioch to preach the gospel (Acts 13:1-3).  They took along John (Mark) as their helper (Acts 13:5).  We are not given the reason why, but Mark deserted them (Acts 13:13).  The situation so grieved Paul that he refused, on a subsequent journey, to take Mark along (Acts 15:37-38).  The desertion of a fellow soldier is a discouraging thing to those who remain on to fight.  Every servant of the gospel knows of such instances.  But God is able to strengthen and restore His children.  Mark was likewise restored and later proved himself useful to Paul for service (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:11).

There are those who work to DISTORT the message.  Paul and Barnabas made their way to Paphos (Acts 13:6).  They found there a magician, Elymas, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who sought to hear the word of God (Acts 13:7).  While Paul and Barnabas were sharing with the proconsul, Elymas was working to “turn the proconsul away from the faith” (Acts 13:8).  Paul understood him to be “full of all deceit and villainy,” working “to make crooked the straight paths of the Lord” (Acts 13:10).  For every action there is a reaction.  The preaching of the true gospel is met with enemy opposition.  The evil one is at work to undermine and distort and keep blinded the eyes of the unbelieving.  Many distorted gospels are widely taught and are readily accepted in our day (Cf. Galatians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4). But God used Paul to blind Elymas (Cf. Acts 13:11) and open the eyes of the proconsul to the truth (Cf. Acts 13:12).

There are those who work to DISTURB the hearers.  Paul and Barnabas made their way to Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13) and preached the gospel on a Sabbath day in a synagogue (Acts 13:14-41).  The people begged to hear more and on the next Sabbath the whole city was assembled to hear the Word (Cf. Acts 13:42-44).  But the enemy was working.  “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul” (Acts 13:45).  So Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).  The Gentiles then heard the message of salvation and rejoiced and “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:47-48). 

The early church grew and flourished in spite of opposition.  And the true gospel is met with similar opposing forces today.  Any proclamation of the true gospel will be met with resistance.  Any gospel that does not incite some resistance is likely not the true gospel.  The devil is well-pleased with the proclamation of contrary gospels that diminish Christ and His finished work.  The gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ—that’s a different matter.  It is this gospel that the devil hates, that stirs up trouble.  It did exactly that throughout Paul’s ministry.  He preached the gospel and riots broke out.  Persecution intensified.  Trouble came.  But he fought the good fight of faith and was not deterred. 

Don’t be surprised by opposition!  It is standard fare for those who endeavor to speak God’s truth (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:12).  Remember that the God who raised Christ from the dead is at work to guide, strengthen and direct His children in the midst of it.  Paul and Barnabas were fiercely opposed, but “the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region” (Acts 13:49).  In the midst of intense opposition people still heard the message.  Some responded unto salvation.

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