One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. (Acts18:9-11)
Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia to the city of Corinth to join Paul and brought the Philippi church's gift to support Paul's gospel ministry in Corinth. Because of the Philippian church’s support for Paul, he was able to concentrate on preaching the gospel and didn’t need to make tents. Paul concentrated on preaching the gospel to the Jews, thinking that more people would know Jesus Christ and repent and accept the gospel. It turned out to be different from what he expected because what he faced were resistance and slander.
Although Paul was a great apostle, he was also a human being. When he faced a difficult situation, he would be afraid and weak. Just as he said in a letter to the Corinthian church: “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. “(1 Corinthians 2:3) For this reason the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision at night and shared the above passages, not only to comfort and encourage him, but to strengthen his faith, and guide Paul's evangelism. It was precisely because of the comfort and guidance of the Lord Jesus that Paul, who originally wanted to leave Corinth, stayed for another year and six months to spread the gospel to more Corinthians. This is how the Corinthian church was able to be established. At the same time, two Corinthian letters were left to bless the churches of all generations.
Paul was called the greatest apostle by the church. After he was called by the Lord, he became enthusiastic for the Lord. Not only did he strive to preach the gospel, but he also achieved great deeds, and established many churches. In the long history of the church, many Christians have been influenced by Paul, and they all want to imitate him by being enthusiastic for the gospel, do a lot of work for the Lord, and build many churches. Although many people imitate Paul, not everyone can achieve tremendous results like Paul. Rather, every evangelist will inevitably experience the frustration and weakness of Paul.
This frustrating experience is absolutely inevitable when engaging in evangelism. Even Paul, who was so zealous for the Lord, and so confident, was weak because of this, and even he wanted to leave the city of Corinth, how much less are we able to withstand. But most people think that if they have a lot of enthusiasm, they can quickly lead many people to believe in the Lord and restore the church of God. They ignore the process of evangelism and reality of encountering many unbelievers and even face persecution. Even if you think of this problem in advance, it is easy to be frustrated, discouraged and weak.
There are also other things that need to be faced. Many people are reluctant to plant churches and spread the gospel because of a fear of persecution and knowledge that they will face frustration. Although some people are willing to go out and preach the gospel, they only want to reap the harvest, they don’t want to do the difficult task of sowing the seed. When this happens the message of the Great Commission is compromised and there will be little church growth. There may even be a regression where churches will lose members.
Weakness caused by frustration may be unavoidable, but we still need to know that God is always with us. Without God’s permission, not even one hair on our head can fall to the ground. So even if we meet persecution and opposition from the world, don't be afraid and keep your mouth closed, but continue to preach the gospel.
In addition, we must also know that it is normal for the world to resist the gospel because the sinful nature of people makes people resist God. Instead of approaching God, so we cannot think that there are no people of God among them because of the unbelief of the world. At first, Paul strongly opposed the gospel and persecuted Christians, but he not only repented and believed in the Lord but also became enthusiastic in preaching the gospel. Therefore, we should be confident that there are still many people of God among unbelievers, waiting for us to find them.
(Note: The author of this article is a full-time co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian)
-Translated by Abigail Wu