Week 47 Speak the Truth – Speak it to All Who Will Listen

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 47

Scripture Readings: Acts 17-18

Key Scripture Verses: Acts 18:9-10 (NIV, Life Application Bible) “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.’”

In these two chapters of Acts, Paul and other disciples are travelling and teaching the gospel. He has just left Athens and is now in Corinth. Paul was preaching to Jews and Greeks there. At one point the Jews became abusive to him and he told them that he would leave them and go to the Gentiles. Paul was frustrated with the Jews, but brought the message to many Corinthians who did receive Jesus and were baptized as a result of his preaching. God came to him in a vision to confirm that he was doing what he was supposed to do and not to stop.

This is another example of how the message of the gospel and the gift of salvation were not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. Remember that Peter also received a vision and understood from God that he was not to make unclean “what God has made clean,” a message he understood as confirmation that he should pursue teaching the Gentiles about Jesus. Paul is being told directly that he should continue to preach in Corinth and not to be afraid but to continue his ministry there.

Paul had very direct encounters with Jesus. Paul who had persecuted Christians and had witnessed and approved of the stoning of Stephen, did an about-face and turned from oppressing Christians to being one of their greatest leaders. His faith was so strong that even though he encountered a lot of opposition at times, including imprisonment for teaching about Jesus, he never lost his faith, but followed Jesus until his death.

God may not speak to us directly in visions, but he does address us through his word and through examples of faith such as Paul’s. Paul’s example should make people think about his message. Paul not only believed that Jesus was who he said he was, he encountered him personally and was forever changed by that encounter on the road to Damascus. This passage is yet another example of how he directly encountered the Lord through a vision encouraging him to continue his ministry in Corinth.

Paul was told by God to continue preaching and teaching the gospel message, in spite of being charged for promoting religious beliefs that the Romans did not approve. He followed God’s instructions faithfully. His example is for all of us. His message is for all of us.

Jews and Gentiles alike could see the faith that Paul had. It shouts at us from the Bible passages—Paul believed that Jesus is the Christ, the awaited Messiah! Paul spent the rest of his life teaching that Jesus is the one true God who provides salvation from sin and the hope for a new tomorrow, the gift of everlasting life in the kingdom of God. Paul so believed the message and wanted to spread it and share it that he dedicated his life to teaching others about it.

The message is for all who will receive it. Those of us who also believe in Jesus should find our faith strengthened by Paul’s example. May we read and study God’s word so that we may also have the faith to share his love with others, without fear, to anyone who will receive it.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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