In the last post we saw how Paul persevered under attacks and ridicule and I said that from my perspective, some of the strongholds of darkness and evil were being shaken.
After all, that’s the only legitimate mark of the success of a church. There are so many churches today that measure their success by what’s going on in the congregation. It’s wonderful to have things happening within the congregation, but that isn’t the mark of success. The church is successful only when things start happening in the community around them. The Lord Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world.” It’s the world that God is aiming at. Until something starts happening in the community, the church isn’t fulfilling it’s calling. As Evangelist Paul Radar said, “There’s nothing in the Bible that tells the world to come to the Church; but, there’s everything in the Bible that tells the Church to go to the world!”
As the apostle saw this beginning to happen, he knew that he was in for trouble. It’s precisely because Paul has experienced success that he was afraid. Think of what we have already read in Acts:
“Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly” —Acts 17:4-5
The Jews were provoked to jealousy by the belief of many Gentiles, and it was this jealousy which prompted their opposition. Paul is now experiencing success in his ministry to the Gentiles; why shouldn’t he anticipate intensified opposition from the Jews? It was Paul’s success which posed the danger.
This night vision he had was exactly what Paul needed to strengthen and encourage him. What did Paul learn through this vision?
Well, God assured Paul that He was with him. This promise of God’s presence isn’t just a promise that is made to Paul. It’s a promise to every believer:
Then Jesus came up and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” —Matthew 28:18-20
“Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you” —John 14:16-18
“Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” —Hebrews 13:5-6
So Paul was assured that he wouldn’t suffer this time around—at least here.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts