"Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'"
--Acts 14:19-22, NKJV
Reading this section of the Book of Acts, one wonders how the current, "prosperity gospel preachers," have the gall to preach the kind of absurd ideas that come from some of the largest pulpits in the land! It also seems untenable that anyone given the tremendous responsibility to preach the gospel of God's amazing grace that overcomes our sin could ever so callously turn that opportunity into something so unlike scriptural truth!
The word of God gives us the challenge to carry the message that all of us are sinners. We are unable to save ourselves. We simply cannot give enough, go enough, share enough, or do enough to present ourselves as anything but hell-bound undesirables that God has called, chosen, and redeemed by His grace! Our salvation required nothing less than the blood of a dying Savior who came from heaven to rescue us from the eternity in hell that our sins deserve!
Even so, we are to be continually mindful that although we have done nothing to deserve God's grace, we are, nevertheless, tasked with standing steadfastly in it! We must hold an unwavering commitment to Christ, despite having the whole world against us! We must understand that it will take courage and power that is beyond us! This power to stand firm is available to us, only in the person of the indwelling presence of God's Holy Spirit! He, alone, is able to help us make, take, continue and complete that stand.
The Apostle Paul was driven out of each of the cities mentioned in the verses above. Finally, he was dragged out of the city of Lystra, where he was finally stoned and left for dead. After surviving that attack, he stood back to his feet and steadfastly returned to each and every place from which he was driven.
Perhaps, after everything you ever dreaded has happened to you, there is nothing left to fear, but the One who has the power to destroy body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Once you have that straight, there is nothing else in this life of which to be afraid!
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Enjoy a fearless faith!Blessings & Peace,