White Unto Harvest
Satan wants you to stop spreading the gospel abroad. His desire is for you to become weary and discouraged with the glorious call of the great commission (Mark 16:15). He wants you to think it's not worth it: it's not worth the time; it's not worth the money; it's not worth the energy. The great deceiver of this world longs for you to believe the lie that the almighty gospel of Jesus Christ has lost its power to save (Rom. 1:16; Rev. 12:9). The devil wants you to adopt a "Why bother?" attitude concerning the subject of foreign evangelism.
Paul frequently faced times of difficulty, discouragement, and even suffering while he was preaching the gospel in foreign places (2 Cor. 11:23-33). But he never gave up on his mission to preach Christ and declare the whole counsel of God to a world rapidly hurling itself toward eternal destruction (1 Cor. 2:2; Acts 20:27). I certainly am no expert on endurance in foreign fields, but our brother Paul was. Let us learn from the faithful work of this one who refused to stop preaching abroad.
Because Souls are Waiting to be Saved
Paul traveled to the foreign city of Corinth in order to preach the gospel (Acts 18:1-18). Here we find Paul, far away from home, trembling in fear (1 Cor. 2:3), and it seems he is considering leaving Corinth altogether. But Jesus appears to Paul and gives him reason to stay in this foreign place. "Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city'" (Acts 18:9-10). After Paul heard these words, "He continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:11). Notice this about Paul: "he continued."
Maybe you have preached abroad before. Will you continue? Maybe you are preaching abroad right now. Will you continue? Maybe you have not yet started. Will you begin? Wherever you may be, at home or in a foreign land, the prince of darkness wants you to stop preaching. He hopes more experienced preachers will think they are too old to travel to a foreign field. He desires younger preachers to think they are too young to make a difference. He longs to convince single men they need a family before they can be effective. He wants family men to think their children must be grown before they can go. He rejoices when local churches begin to think it is a waste of money to support short or long term evangelistic efforts overseas. He longs for parents to discourage their children from traveling so far away. He hopes Christians will think there is nothing significant for them to do to help. He wants able and needed preachers who are in difficult areas to become disheartened, pack it up, and move home.
Why did Jesus want Paul to continue preaching in this foreign place? "For I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:10). The Savior of the world still had work for Paul to do in this foreign city. Souls were waiting to be saved. For the sake of the precious souls who needed the gospel, Paul continued his labors in Corinth.
Why should we keep teaching abroad? Because Jesus says to us, "I have many people in this city." God has countless souls in cities all the way around the globe who need to hear the precious word. Whether they be in Sau Paulo, Nairobi, Seoul, or Moscow, remember that God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). Satan lusts for complete control of every soul on this earth. Will you let him continue his reign of destruction, or will you actively do something to pull souls out of the fire (Jude 23)? We cannot depend on a just small handful of men to do all the work, all the time. Jesus says, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:2). We need more laborers.
You have nothing to fear. Jesus told Paul, "Do not be afraid" (Acts 18:9). What did Paul have to be afraid of? Paul was no stranger to dreadful circumstances. He had aroused the anger of the Corinthian Jews who "opposed him" (Acts 18:6). In other cities he had been arrested, beaten with rods, imprisoned, run out of town, stoned, and even left for dead (2 Cor. 11:23-28). From a human perspective, there was plenty for Paul to fear.
Conquer the fear of preaching abroad first by trusting in God. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7). It takes courage to preach the gospel in a strange place, but remember that the men of any nation are nothing in comparison to the infinite power of Jehovah. "Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings ... Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die" (Isa. 51:7f).
Next, you can defeat this fear by finding faithful co-workers. Notice how Paul surrounded himself in Corinth with sound laborers. He first found Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3), then Silas and Timothy joined him (Acts 18:5), and next he united together with Justus (Acts 18:7). Find strength and courage in working with faithful brethren. Find a steadfast couple like Aquila and Priscilla and go. Join yourself to a sound co-worker like Silas and go. Search for a younger person like Timothy and go.
Take the great commission to heart. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). The Lord told Paul in Corinth, "speak, and do not keep silent" (Acts 18:9). Evidently, Paul was thinking of speaking no more in Corinth, but Jesus told Paul to continue preaching. Open your mouth. Do not be quiet. Tell them about salvation in Christ! May the church have more voices who will refuse to stop broadcasting the message of salvation to the whole world.
You will not be alone. Though Christians were scarce in Corinth, Jesus told Paul he was not alone, "For I am with you" (10). Paul was far away from home and in a place where Christians were few in number, but he was not alone. You may feel alone when you travel a great distance away from the brethren you love to go preach the gospel, but be certain that you will not be alone. Christ will be with you. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Heb. 13:5). Remember what God told Jacob. "I am with you and will keep you wherever you go" (Gen. 28:15).
God will protect you. Jesus promised to protect Paul. Paul had faced persecution in many cities, but here in Corinth the Lord assured him, "No one will attack you to hurt you" (Acts 18:10). Imagine how reassuring it was for Paul to hear Jesus Himself say this. Paul believed in and experienced the protection of God. "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom" (2 Tim. 4:17-18).
Jesus is our great Shield and Defender. Though we may face times of persecution and physical suffering (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:12-16), no one will be able to harm us spiritually, against our will. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). Nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:35-39). If we determine to resist him, not even Satan can stop us from spreading the word (Jas. 4:7).
When the Father asked Jesus to come to this world to save us from sin, what if Jesus would have said, "Why bother?" Will you follow the example of your Savior who came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10)?
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