In today’s chapter we see some of the highest highs, and the lowest lows. Paul and Barnabas went from people dressing them in garlands and trying to sacrifice to them as though they were gods to being stoned by the same mob. This crowd is much like the crowed in Jerusalem that screamed “Hosanna in the highest…Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” when Jesus was entering the city. The same crowd that screamed “Crucify Him…His blood be on us and our children” a week later. For those reading this whom God has chosen as leaders; we need to remember that people are fickle. If we base our calling or our ministry on popular opinion we will be gods one day and manure the next! But, there is one; and one alone, who “never changes”(Malachi 3:6). There is one who’s “love endures forever” (I Chronicles 16:34). There is one who, as the woman at the well found and cried out “come and see the man who knows everything I have ever done” (John 4:29). Who knows every aspect of your thought life, ambitions and heart; He, not only knows what they have been for your entire life, but He also knows what they will be in the eternity future. (Ps 139:2). This one is the one who has ordained you for good works my friend (Jeremiah 1:5). This is the one that you and I will give an account to in the last day, not a fickle, self serving crowd of people. This is also the one, who when we stand before Him one day at the judgement seat of Christ, will allow us to see all who were saved due to our obedience to Him regardless of the circumstances or the popular opinion of the day. We will at this time see what sort of works we have done in His name (I Cor. 3:10-15). This is how we have peace in the middle of what seems to be chaos. As the Word says in Ephesians chapter six we are to have our feed shod with the Gospel of peace. Our peace comes from a firm foundation in the truth that the God of the universe has called us unto His good works (Eph 2:10). We have our feet firmly planted on the rock of Jesus Christ as our foundation of truth and not on man. When our feet are planted anywhere else they are on shifting sand. We can trust in the Word when it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God: “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us form the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:35-39). God did not promise us a rose garden when we gave our life fully to Him; but He did promise fruit in our lives (John 15:5). I am telling you with all certainty, my friend in the fight, in the last day, that fruit will be all that has ever mattered in this life. this life is only as long as a vapor; all else will be forgotten. The phrase that I would like to coin for this chapter is this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but converts live forever, and ever, and ever.” A-men or not!
Well, as you can tell, I’ve begin preaching a sermon alone in my office and it must be a good one because no one in the room is asleep! But I must move on. The second thing that I would like to focus on today is verse 22. This sentence says a great deal about the life of the true believer. The text doesn’t say that evangelists, or pastors, or deacons, or Sunday school teachers or any of the like must by “many tribulations enter the kingdom of heaven.” He is talking about people who have genuinely given their life to Christ. If there is no battle, there is no enemy advancement. If there is no enemy advancement, one is not a threat. If one is not a threat, they are not a kingdom dweller. Those who have had the Spirit of God revived in their lives cannot help but to focus on making disciples. This is what Satan is trying to destroy. If there is not fruit in the life of someone, even if they have an assigned pew at church, they are not one of His. Jesus said that we will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). This gives us a new view of words of the disciples that seem so foreign. We see often that they rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. This suffering means that evidently they are making Kingdom headway.