"Now at Iconium [Paul and Barnabas] entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord [Jesus], who bore witness to the message of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided. Some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country. And there they continued to preach the gospel." - Acts 14:1-7
I'm afraid many of us in the church, including myself, too easily give up when it comes to proclaiming our faith. At the slightest hint of opposition, we fold. We shut down and stop sharing about Jesus in a confident way. This is not how the early church did things.
As Christians, we are to: (1) enter the public square and speak in such a way that people believe (v. 1); (2) expect opposition from unbelievers in the community (v. 2); (3) despite that opposition, we are to remain a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord Jesus (v. 3); (4) look for Jesus to testify to his gospel of grace by answering prayer and performing miracles (v. 3); (5) expect division among people over the gospel we preach (v. 4); (6) anticipate even verbal and physical assaults because of our message (v. 5); and (7) flee to other locations or cities to continue to preach the gospel (vv. 6-7).
The evangelism principle of "gospel saturation" is a good one. Once an area, school, campus, town, or city has been saturated with the preaching of the gospel message, giving a great majority the opportunity to respond to the gospel, the job of the evangelist or church planter is done.
What can we as a church do in the month ahead to further the goal of gospel saturation in our own locale, right hear in Caversham and South Dunedin?
Father, we are to be bold ambassadors of the gospel. We confess we give up too easily, at the slightest hint of push back or opposition. I pray that you will empower us to move two degrees toward boldness. Give us increased confidence to take a stand and speak with courage. Our message centered on Messiah Jesus is the only message that counts in the end. Everything else is a distraction. Help us to be focused on gospel proclamation. Turn us into harvest workers for you. Help us to saturate our community with the gospel. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman