When Paul arrived in Corinth, his first few weeks were stressful ones. His gospel message received meager welcome among the Jews of that city (Acts 18:1-6). Opposition was nothing new to Paul but his spirit was wearing thin. At the same time, he had been anxiously awaiting word from his co-workers whom he had sent to Macedonia in order to encourage the new believers there and report back on their spiritual welfare (1 Thess. 3:1-5). His concern for them was so intense that he even feared, “that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” (1 Thess. 3:5)
What strengthened Paul’s resolve to persevere in the work of evangelism in Corinth? What transformed Paul’s anxiety over the Thessalonian believers into overflowing thanksgiving to God? The answer to both questions is the same: he was given assurance of God’s sovereignty in appointing a people unto himself.
Concerning the work in Corinth, Paul receives a vision from God, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent!” (Acts 18:9). The ultimate ground for this exhortation is given in the last proposition of v.10, “…for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Concerning the Thessalonians, Paul and his co-workers overflow with thanks to God (1 Thess. 1:2-3) because the verdict concerning the Thessalonians is in: they bear all the marks of genuine gospel fruit (v.3). They truly are God’s chosen and beloved children (v.4).
From beginning to end, the ministry of the gospel is a work of God; the evangelist is merely a tool in his sovereign hand.
From beginning to end, the ministry of the gospel is a work of God; the evangelist is merely a tool in his sovereign hand. God’s sovereignty in salvation is a source of encouragement both to persevere in evangelism and to rest assured that God will guard and nurture those whom he has called to himself.
Meet our Devotional Blog Contributor: Michael Lane