Just look at the kind of world in which we live. Just think about the various attitudes people manifest that can so easily bring doubt and distrust to even the noblest of heart. It’s easy to grow cynical. It’s even easier to make excuses for periods of inactivity in a feeble attempt to justify what simply may be a lack of faith or a love that has grown cold. In either case, there’s no place for these in the heart of a disciple who has one supreme desire…to be like Christ! At times, all of us need our faith strengthened. We just need to be reminded that God is awesome and able, and our work is not in vain. If the apostle Paul had moments wherein he needed encouragement and assurance from the Lord, then so will we.
During Paul’s second missionary journey, having left Athens, Paul found himself in Corinth, capital of the province of Achaia, and a city known not only for its trade and commerce, but also its indulgence and immorality. Paul was facing an enormous challenge among such sinful circumstances. No doubt the Lord knew that even a man like the apostle Paul need encouragement. And so He spoke to Paul in the night and said, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Paul was obedient to such a vision and remained in Corinth “a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11). Now we know the Lord is not going to speak to us in a vision today as He did Paul, but surely we believe He speaks to us through His word and invites us to trust Him as we go into a world of darkness preaching the gospel of light. What’s interesting is that it took a vision from the Lord to move Paul toward Corinth. Of all places and people, even Paul could not envision this being ripe for evangelism. Ever felt that way about your city?
I believe what the Lord wanted Paul to see, He wants us to see as well today. Let’s consider a few things the Lord wants us to see with an eye of faith.
He wants us to see souls. The Lord said to Paul, “I have many people in this city” (vs.10). For our purposes, we are reminded that it’s people who need the gospel. It’s those who are yet in their sins that must “call on the name of the Lord.” “But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). It’s in seeing souls, lost people who are in need of the saving gospel of Christ that motivates us to keep looking for opportunities to open our mouths and “go on speaking and not remain silent” (vs.9).
He wants us to see His power. After telling Paul to speak and no longer remain silent; He then assured him, “I am with you.” What a promise! What power! But we need to be tapping into such Divine power. The Hebrew writer assures us that the word of God is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). It has the power to convict the honest heart of sin, to comfort those in affliction, and challenge churches to be more and do more. James assures us that the prayer of a righteous person “has great power” (Jam. 5:16). What a promise! What a privilege! We just need to open our eyes and see how God’s presence and the assurance of such power changes everything. The Lord promised to be with Paul, and He promises to be with us today as we go among the lost seeking to “make disciples” of all the nations (Matt.28:19-20). Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid.
He wants us to see the stamina necessary in seeking to save souls. Paul stayed at the task of preaching and teaching for a year and a half (vs.11), perhaps even longer (vs.18). He would not be easily discouraged or deterred from his work of seeking the lost. How we need such a spirit of determination. Seeking the lost and praying for doors of opportunity is hard work, work that can be filled with frustrations. But we must stay on task. We can’t afford to drift into despair or give up because we haven’t seen fruit in over a year. Let us have endurance for the mission. Let us “not lose heart in doing good” (Gal. 6:9), but remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). God promises that our labor will not be in vain.
So the next time Satan tries to use doubt and fear to keep you from seeking some soul to save, how about seeing God’s power and trusting in His presence. Isn’t it time we started walking by faith and not by sight? What do you see?