Another point I want to make is that when Paul uses the word “mystery,” it is not being used in the sense that we would use it today. The word that he uses in the original Greek, means “something that is revealed,” and in this case, it is the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ to include the Gentiles; up to this point that had not been revealed in its entirety.
So we need to understand that even among some believing Jews, there was a kind of bigotry that wanted to force the Gentiles into a lower position (read Acts 15:1). This extreme legalistic party wanted the Gentiles to become Jews ceremonially before they could ever become or be considered as Christians! Paul and Barnabas met this threat to the Gospel of grace head-on and the council decided in their favor. But the legalistic party continued to oppose Paul and his ministry. They did not want the Good News of the mystery of Christ to get to the Gentiles. They wanted to maintain their air of Jewish superiority. Since Jesus was Jewish, they had an air of entitlement, not understanding or admitting that Jesus DID take His message first, to the Jewish people but as a whole, they rejected it.
How strange that Paul would want God to help him do the very thing that had caused his arrest! He had no intention of giving up his ministry or of changing his message. When John Bunyan was arrested for preaching illegally and put into prison, he was told that he would be released if he promised to stop preaching.
“If I am out of prison today,” he replied, “I will preach the Gospel again tomorrow, by the help of God.”
How could Paul share the mystery of Christ when he was a prisoner? Paul’s case was discussed by many people; Paul was also able to witness to the guards to whom he was chained (Philippians 1:12–18). Imagine being chained to the Apostle Paul! Through this witness, the Gospel was carried into parts of Rome that would have been inaccessible to Paul had he been a free man. There were even “saints in Caesar’s household”! (Philippians 4:22).
The proclamation of the Gospel is empowered by prayer. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God as we come to the throne of grace and ask God for His blessing. We must never separate the Word of God from prayer because God has joined them together (Acts 6:4).
While studying I found a story about a visitor at Spurgeon’s Tabernacle in London who was being shown around the building by the pastor, Charles Spurgeon, himself:
“Would you like to see the powerhouse of this ministry?” Spurgeon asked, as he showed the man into a lower auditorium. “It is here that we get our power, for while I am preaching upstairs, hundreds of my people are in this room praying.”
Is it any wonder that God blessed Spurgeon’s preaching of the Word?
You, as a church member, can assist your pastor in the preaching of the Word by praying for him. Never say to your pastor, “Well, the least I can do is to pray for you.” The MOST you can do is to pray! Pray for your pastor as he prepares the Word, studies, and meditates. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give deeper insights into the truths of the Word. Pray too that your pastor will practice the Word that he preaches so that it will be real in his own life. As he preaches the message, pray that the Spirit will give him freedom to speak with clarity, and that the Word will reach into hearts and minds in a powerful way. (It wouldn’t hurt to pray for other church leaders too.) Don’t ever think like so many do, that prayer is a tool of last resort. In truth, prayer should be the very first tool the Lord has given us in our arsenal of gifts.
The proclaiming of the Word of God is a great privilege but is also a very tremendous responsibility. The words we speak, especially those we say are from the Lord, are guarded by the Holy Spirit and a person who says, “so says the Lord” will one day have to give account for the words they speak IN the name of the Lord.
Just remember this very important point, you do not have to be an ordained preacher, evangelist or a missionary to share God’s Word with others. Even in your daily conversation you can drop the seed of the Word into hearts, and then pray that God will water that seed and bring forth fruit. Again, if we pray ahead of time for opportunities to share God’s Word in our normal everyday interactions with people, the Holy Spirit WILL provide opportunities that are not forced. We just need to pray, then be vigilant and alert for the opportunity. Praying ahead of time for God’s will and opportunities, is again, the key.
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