Please Go On Speaking
Acts 18:9 & 10 NASB/ESV
9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people.”
These are the words Paul heard from the Lord while he was on a missionary journey in Corinth, a city in Greece that was commercially prosperous but morally depraved. As was his custom when entering a city, Paul preached the Gospel first to the Jews at the synagogue. He testified to them that Jesus was the Messiah, who was the fulfillment of the law that the Jews had been following. However, the Jews rejected and opposed his preaching, and began to attack and revile him. Paul’s response? He “shook the dust from his clothes” (Acts 18:6), moved on and took the message to the Gentiles.
It is in this backdrop that the Lord spoke to Paul. The Bible does not tell us how Paul was feeling. But I guess he must be feeing worn out and battered by the rejection and persecution. He might be feeling uncertain and fearful about what kind of response would be welcoming him ahead as he continued to preach the Gospel.
While many of us do not face the violent opposition that Paul did, I think you and I have ever been discouraged and despondent because of negative responses we received as we shared the Gospel or invited friends to church activities. Perhaps you are in such a place of disappointment and dejection right now. For others, it could be that you have been timid and fearful about telling others about Jesus.
I believe that the four things Paul heard God saying to him that night as recorded in Acts 18:9 & 10 are what God wants to teach us and encourage us with as we live for Him in our context today.
Do not be afraid any longer. God knows how we are feeling. Whether we are stepping out into new areas of serving and ministry or are at a difficult place where growth in our evangelism and discipleship efforts seems to be stalled, God tells us to stop fearing and take courage. God knows best that as long as we remain afraid, we will be crippled and not able to move a step forward.
But go on speaking and do not be silent. This totally counters what is often the natural response of a person who is afraid. We easily stop speaking about Jesus and telling of His goodness, because we wonder, “What is the use?” We are tempted to be silent when others seem unreceptive to our evangelizing or teaching of the Word. But God commands us to keep speaking, to never stop, to never give up.
For I am with you. God gives us His promise after His command. This parallels what Jesus said to His disciples in The Great Commission, “…I am with you always, even to the end of age…” (Matthew 28:20) God is with us to supply, to support, to deliver and to bless as we go on taking the Gospel to the world. He is with us to give us the liberty to succeed in our evangelism and discipleship. He is with us to preserve us such that even when others oppose us, they are not able to harm us.
For I have many in this city who are My people. These words of the Lord speak to me at two levels. He reminds me that we are not alone as we carry on this work of building His church. He has a huge army of believers where we can draw resources and support from. We are the Body of Christ in this Kingdom-building journey together. You and I must be UNITED to go on speaking and not be silent.
Equally importantly, or even more importantly, God commands us to persist and persevere in sharing the Gospel because He has many people in our midst that He wants to bring into His Kingdom and His Family. He has many people waiting in the cities to hear the message of the Gospel and to be touched by His saving and healing Hand. Jesus tells us in John 10:16, “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also.” This is why we must fear no longer. This is why we must go on speaking and not be silent.
Acts 18:11 NIV
So Paul stayed there (Corinth) for the next year and a half, teaching the Word of God.
This is how Paul responded to the words the Lord spoke to him. I pray you and I will too heed the words we have heard from the Lord today, and commit to stay on this journey of sharing the Gospel to bring the many people who belong to God back to His Kingdom.
Let us pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word and Your Voice that always direct me in the way to go, promising that You are with me in this journey. Help me never to be quiet about Your Gospel but to always take this Good News to the people in the world. Give me the compassion to see every person as chosen by You to belong to Your Kingdom and Your sheepfold. I rise above any fear and hesitation to preach Your Good News and tell my testimony but go forth to persist in evangelism and discipleship to populate Heaven with growing believers. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”