Our inadequacies don’t limit the Spirit

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

These were not just words spoken. Paul lived these words out each and every single day. Plots were concocted against him. He was slandered, beaten, arrested, and chased out of cities. He left good friends behind to continue his mission. He followed the urging of the Holy Spirit knowing that afflictions and imprisonments awaited him in every city (Acts 20:23). Paul was determined and a unique man.

But his determination and dedication to the gospel was not due his personality. He was captivated by Jesus. Paul wanted others to be captivated by Him as well. To experience the same hope, joy, love, and blessings he experienced. He traveled around the known world sharing the good news of Jesus with all who would listen despite the difficulties he faced daily.

Admittedly, Paul’s love of Jesus is convicting. When I look at my life, I don’t risk as much as Paul did. I don’t risk relationships, comfort, bodily harm, or even my life for Jesus. That doesn’t mean Paul was super human. He wasn’t super human, instead He was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul empowers us as well. Though we might feel inadequate for the task of making disciple-making disciples, we aren’t inadequate. The Spirit empowers us for the task at hand just as He empowered Paul. While we all might not travel around the world sharing the gospel, starting and strengthening churches, we can accomplish what God has planned for us. We can be used by Him to accomplish His will, despite our felt inadequacies because the Spirit empowers us to do the work of ministry.

Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16:25)

What strikes me about the apostles is there rejoicing in the midst of persecution. Paul and Silas found themselves in prison for helping a poor innocent girl. She was being used and abused for profit by local business men. Possessed by a demon she was able to reveal the fortunes of others. They were content to allow her to continue in this state of darkness for their own gain. Paul and Silas were not. They exercised the demon, freeing her from bondage.

Once these men realized their cash cow was gone, they lied about and slandered Paul and Silas to the local authorities. They had them beaten and thrown into prison. Even though they were wounded and shackled in the inner prison, they prayed and sung hymns to the Lord. Not to themselves but openingly so that all the other prisoners could hear.

  • Would we rejoice in the Lord openly in a situation like they were facing?
  • Would we praise God even as we were being persecuted by Him?
  • Would we continue to be a witness for him as we were being punished by the local authorities for following the Lord?

These are tough questions. Ones we won’t know the answer to until we are in the situation.

That, however, doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the situation. I believe Paul, Silas, and others rejoiced in the Lord because they knew the Lord. They didn’t just know of Him, but they knew Him. Their relationship with Him was real and intimate. As well as they knew His character and His actions. They were theologians. We should be theologians as well.

No, you don’t need to go to seminary to be a theologian. Everyone is a theologian because everyone has an opinion about God, which means right now, no matter what degree you have or don’t have, you are a theologian.

The question is: Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

If we are going to stand firm for Christ in the midst of persecution we must be responsible and accurate theologians because what we know about God will determine how we respond to difficult situations.

God is doing an amazing work in our day!

“‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'” (Acts 13:41)

Paul, preaching to the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, tells the Jews that they should expect the Lord to do a work that they would not believe. The work is that their wise men will perish (Is 29:14). In other words, God will do something among the people that will astound them – He will save the Gentiles. He bring those who they thought could not experience salvation to Himself. He will do it through their belief in a crucified Messiah. While at the same time, He will give the Jews over to their enemies (Hab 1:5-6).

After the Jews rejected their teaching, Paul explicitly tells them the work God is dong in verse 47 when he says,

“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” (Acts 13:47)

Again quoting from the prophet Isaiah to show that this has always been God’s plan. A plan that was hidden but is now revealed (Col 1:26-27). Salvation has come to the Gentiles. God’s plan has always been to unite them as one man in Christ (Eph 2:11-22).

Through Jesus we are all united to one another – Jew and Gentile, poor and rich, slave and free. In Christ, we are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters. We are adopted into the same family through the death of Jesus for our sins and the forgiveness extended by the Father and the work done by the Spirit to draw and regenerate. Because of the Work of God, an amazing work we cannot even fathom, we all experience salvation in Jesus alone.

God is doing a work in our day. A work no one would believe if told beforehand. God is uniting us all in Christ. He breaks down divisions. If we want to experience unity, we must turn to Christ. We must recognize that at the foot of the cross all men and women are equal. No one is greater than another. No one is loved by God more than another. We are all one, a new humanity, a new people in Christ.