My faithful Friend: September, 2021
It’s my hope and prayer that my last letter was not too distressing, because really I’m not in the least distressed. Although, we now know we have been lied to for nearly 20 years about Afghanistan, and our leadership, at least in Washington, is incompetent. Still, I have absolute confidence that not only are we secure in our Lord, but His purposes in you and I, and our nations, will be accomplished. That, despite the malfeasance of our leaders, and the maelstrom that seems to threaten everything, for even these God can use. Nothing is unnoticed, unforeseen, or unmanageable to Him. Human history often reveals that what seemed chaos, agony, and unwonted destruction will in time become great strides forward for civilization, and always for Christianity.
What our Lord began, this hope for the world, has survived the lethal efforts of Roman Emperors, Barbarians invasions, the reoccurring horrors of the Black Plague (which makes this present virus pandemic seem like child play), two World Wars, and the homicide of millions by atheistic communist regimes. Surely, those that experienced these calamities felt at times uncertainty, confusion, and even doubts. However, despite this, or because of it, with God’s enabling Christians have shown great fortitude and our faith now extends to the furthest corners of this globe, adding millions to the faithful from every nation, people, tribe, and tongue. As I have shared often, ‘what God could do instantly and perfectly, He prefers to have us do hesitantly, slowly, and imperfectly.’
Parting the waters, being fed miraculously, not even fire from heaven has ever brought about lasting faith, nor lasting revival. Instead it is the cumulation of little things that does; our witnessing, prayers, faithfulness, and touching the lives of those broken, maimed, and hurting (and that means not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually). It has always come down to our proclaiming the gospel despite the situation.
This is dramatically made alive for us when Paul returns to Jerusalem. He quickly finds himself the center of a riot in the Temple, one instigated by false accusations. He is saved by a Roman cohort, but only avoids flogging when the Tribune learns Paul is a Roman citizen. Then a plot is discovered to kill Paul, when he is to be brought before the Sanhedrin. The Tribune, will wisely move Paul, under the cover of darkness to Caesarea, only there he will languish in prison for two years. When the authorities finally wish to free him, the Jewish leadership will object. So Paul feels he must appeal to Caesar. Then on the way to Rome Paul and his party will be shipwrecked.
It does read like an adventure story (Acts 22-28). However, important to us is how Paul views all this. “I want you all to know, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. It has now become known in the whole praetorium guard, and to all the rest that I have been imprisoned for Christ. Most of the those here have been made more confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God fearlessly” (Phil.1:12-14GK). Clearly, in Paul’s mind everything that had happened enabled him to advance the gospel, even the soldiers chained to him have spread the news, to possibly up to ten thousands praetorium guards. This was how Paul always looked at difficulties. He never saw anything as an insurmountable obstacle, anything that could silence him, or anything that God could not turn to a platform to proclaim the gospel.
It is why Luke can conclude this fascinating story with these words, “He lived there (in Rome) two whole years in a dwelling at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and completely unhindered” (Acts 2:30-31GK). Appropriately, the Book of Acts concludes with the word “unhindered.” Luke is telling us that the gospel reached the great city of Rome, and was unhindered. That regardless of what had befallen them, imprisonment, interrogation, threats, accidents, like shipwrecks, even death; nothing could hindered the spread of the gospel. This surely remains true, the gospels is spreading across Africa despite the threats of terrorists, it grows in China regardless of the efforts of the Communists party. There is literally no part of this globe where Christianity is not growing. It is only not growing, as in some so-called ‘churches,” because the gospel is not being preached; unhindered.
We must always “preach” the gospel,
Thomas Randolf Wyatt