Over many years I have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in many settings. From the streets of big cities to small churches with only a handful of people; in conversations with individuals to groups in unexpected places. In many of these places I have experienced hostility from some, but also tears of thanksgiving from others. What are we to expect?
Paul experienced even a greater range of response. “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). When Cornelius met Peter, he “fell at his feet and worshipped him,” which Peter had to correct quickly. These extremes should not surprise us given the world we live in.
Consider how Paul describes the rejections to the gospel. “The word (preaching) of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Notice the two reactions in this verse that I mentioned above. Rejection comes from hearts on which God has not worked yet. Their foolish hearts are darkened through rejection of the gospel (Romans 1:21) as is their understanding (Ephesians 4:18).
On the other side of this issue is the power of God that works in those who believe. To them, “Christ is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). He “opens their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). Let us faithfully preach the message of the cross. IT IS POWERUL!
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