Maybe Some Need This
Three separate missionary journeys
of Paul are recorded in the book of Acts. Fortunately for Paul, he
had some experience with traveling before his first preaching trip
(Acts 9:30; 11:25). However, the logistics of travel were not
the only obstacles that he had to surmount in his work of spreading
the gospel in foreign lands. Please notice the following
account from Acts 18:
After these things he departed from
Athens, and came to Corinth.... And he reasoned in the synagogue
every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks. But when Silas
and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the
word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. And when they
opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook out his raiment and said
unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from
henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence,
and went into the house of a certain man named Titus Justus, one that
worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And
Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all
his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were
baptized. And the Lord said unto 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 harm thee: for I have much people in this
city. And he dwelt there a year and six months, teaching the
word of God among them.
Paul had to overcome fear
(v. 9). During this missionary journey alone Paul had already
been mocked, ran out of town twice, beaten and imprisoned (Acts
17:32,10,14; 16:22-24). With such negative experiences behind
him one might imagine his thoughts as he entered the city of Corinth
and especially when he encountered resistance to his teaching in the
synagogue there (v. 6).
Fear must be overcome today if men
are to take the gospel to other towns or to other countries.
Fears can be rational or irrational. Regardless of their basis,
we all understand the paralyzing effects of unconquered fear (Matt.
25:24-25). It is hoped that what we say herein will help any
who struggle with this obstacle today. What can help us
overcome fears today? In answering this question we will go
step by step, beginning with overcoming fears relative to going
to a strange place to preach and then those having to do with
actually working in a strange place.
Do not let fear hinder you in
your work of preaching (2 Thes. 2:1-2). Paul started
preaching right after he was converted and was not deterred when Jews
tried to kill him (Acts 9:20-23). He contended with Judaizers who
came to Antioch and even withstood the apostle Peter to his face
(Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:11). He would not shrink from
preaching the whole counsel of God in his local work
with a church (Acts 20:27). Following his example and his
advise in 2 Timothy 4:1-2 will help us all to keep from letting our
fears be our counselors. Our next point grows out this one.
Recognize the consequences of fear.
What would have happened if Paul had been afraid to withstand the
error he faced in the various churches of his day? Galatians
5:4 leaves us in no doubt with regards to the answer of this
question: Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified
by the law; ye are fallen away from grace. Thus, we see
the results of such fear in our work in a local church.
Overcoming such fear is a step in the right direction. It will
also help us in overcoming other fears we will face in our service to God.
Realize that there is something
more important than you. Paul was bold to
preach the gospel to the Thessalonians in spite of justifiable fears
(1 Thes. 2:1-2). Paul recognized the danger that sinners were
in and did all he could to try to help them (2 Cor. 5:10-11). He
was willing to be spent for the souls of others (2 Cor.
12:15). There is a very great danger that we forget the
sacrificial attitude that characterized the early Christians and
allow things to become more near and dear to us than Christ and the lost.
May we all remember Pauls
words, For me to live is Christ (Phil. 1:21). It
was his desire that Christ be magnified in his body
whether by life, or by death (Phil. 1:20). There is
something far more important than any one of us. Our lives are
only of real consequence if they are spent in the service of Christ.
Recognize that God can protect
his people no matter where they are. The three Hebrew
children of Daniel 3, though far from their homes, were protected by
God from the burning fiery furnace. Paul was guaranteed his
safety in Corinth, a city far removed from his birthplace of Tarsus
(Acts 18:9-10). As this article is being written, three
brethren close to this writer are in two different foreign countries
preaching the gospel. Countless others are in various countries
around the world. God is the God of all creation (Isa. 45:22;
Rom. 10:12). Jesus has all authority ...in heaven and on
earth (Matt. 28:18). God can and does watch over his
people. When we go to another country for his purposes we can
do so with a confidence that the people of this world do not have
When in a foreign country,
continue with your work in spite of your fears. Ezekiel was
told, Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their
words (Ezek. 2:6). This command is much like those
forbidding lust or covetousness: It calls upon us to not let our
emotions or passions override what we know to be right. This is
the secret of so many of the brave men of faith in the Bible.
They did not let fear keep them from their duty. Through faith
they from weakness were made strong (Heb. 11:34). This
writer has dealt with fear in a foreign country many times (in nearly
every instance the fear turned out to be baseless). It has
proved very helpful to cut the chase and simply deal with the fear of
death even though, to my knowledge, my life has never been in
danger. Thoughts like the following have been a big help:
1) Realize that all people die and that I will one day also; 2)
Recognize that I am doing something in the service of God and that it
would be far better for me to die while so involved than in some
empty, frivolous or even sinful way.
Live so you can die. It is
clear that Paul made this his practice (2 Cor. 5:1-10).
Lets face it, the ultimate fear that faces all of us is the
fear of death. This fear must be faced and conquered, not be
allowed to govern our lives and make them fruitless or purposeless.
The purpose of life, as revealed in the above-cited text, is for man
live with God both here and in eternity. Do not let the fear of
death keep you from living the way you should (Heb. 2:14-15).
Fear is something all people must
deal with. It is hoped that the points we offer herein would
prove especially helpful to those contemplating spreading the gospel
in foreign fields. The word courage does not appear
in the above material. In spite of this, the above points
should go a long way in helping one be courageous. Please note
Websters definition of courage:
The attitude or response of facing and dealing with anything
recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of
withdrawing from it; the quality of being fearless or brave; valor;
pluck (p. 419)
This article is not intended to
imply that one cannot be a faithful Christian unless he goes to work
in some foreign field. Nor should one infer from it the message
that, unless he goes to a foreign land to preach, he is fearful.
However, if fear is the only hindrance to a brothers
doing mission work it would be our hope that our words herein would
lead such a one to think further on the matter. Let us put the
great commission above our own emotions (Mk. 16:15-16).
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