Acts 14.19-23

Things take a turn for the serious in Lystra when Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and persuade the crowds into stoning Paul (if you have no idea what this entailed, read here). This is likely the stoning that Paul referenced in 2 Corinthians 11.25. Whilst he was left for dead (v.19) the disciples gathered about him and found that he was alive. Resting overnight, the next day Paul and Barnabas depart to Derbe where they preach the Good News of Jesus. The willpower and dedication to the task of Paul is amazing: to keep preaching and teaching after being stoned for doing that very thing.

Leaving Derbe Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening those who believed, appointing elders to shepherd the community (v.23), and reminding them of this key message:

“We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.”

(Acts 14.22, NET)

The idea that the Christian life is free from persecution, trial, or tribulation is not true.

The idea that living the Christian life is to be living our best life now is not true.

Paul could wholeheartedly say this because Jesus suffered many persecutions and Paul himself had too. The idea that we are saved and then live on a higher plane, detached from and immune to the sin and suffering of the world around us is not true. The Christian life is hard. You are taking a stand that you are different, holy, set apart to God and His Word, His will, and His ways, and the world around us is so far fallen from these standards that it will push back against you.

This is why we need the examples of those gone before us in Scripture, why we need the indwelling power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8.5-11), and why we need the encouraging help of a Christian community. The path to eternal life is one fraught with persecutions, as Paul says, but one that is always worth pursuing.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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