Trouble is Good, Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #11)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message

TEXT: Acts 14:19-22

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about trouble in the Christian life. Everybody has experienced some trouble at one time or another. Dr. R.G. Lee once said, “Well-thronged is the road of trouble — traveled by many who find the road rough and the going tough.”

In this series, as we travel through Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, we saw that Christian was met with trouble when he came to the Hill called Difficulty. His two companions, Formalist and Hypocrisy, quickly abandoned him and took what appeared to be easier routes around the Hill. As we look at the issue of trouble in the Christian life, we find three reasons why trouble is good from the Word of God in the life of the Apostle Paul.

1. Trouble is good because it can solidify our commitment to Christ. Paul was a missionary and minister of the Gospel who faced much persecution and hatred, not only from nonbelievers but even from some who claimed to be Christians. Yet, he remained faithful to Jesus Christ. In our passage, he and Barnabas are preaching the Gospel in Lystra, when the crowd turns on him, stones him, and drags him out thinking he was dead. The trouble Paul faced did not cause him to run away from the faith. Rather, it caused him to draw closer to Jesus Christ as His source of strength during difficult times. If you persevere through trouble, that is one way you (and others) can know for sure that you are committed to Jesus Christ.

2. Trouble is good because it lets us know who our real friends are. Verse 20 of our passage states: “Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about [Paul], he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” Even though Paul had been stoned to within an inch of his life, he wasn’t alone. “The disciples” did not abandon him when he faced trouble. Sometimes God allows difficulty in our lives in order to show us who our true friends are and to separate us from people who could be a hindrance in our walk with Him.

3. Trouble is good because it puts us in a position to encourage others. Look now at verses 21-22: “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

God raised Paul up after he was nearly stoned to death. What did Paul do? He kept right on preaching. He went back to the same cities he had preached in before — the same cities where the Jews and some of the Gentiles protested the Gospel message. But, this time, he went to confirm and strengthen those who had turned to Christ because of his preaching. Perhaps these new believers had seen how Paul had been treated, and this was causing them to falter in their faith. Or, perhaps, they were now subject to some of the same persecution that Paul had experienced. What an encouragement it must have been when Paul and Barnabas came back through town still fearlessly preaching the Gospel.

Because of his experience, Paul was able to say to these new believers, “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Paul did not make the mistake that some church leaders make today. He did not allow these new believers to think that because they were now following Jesus Christ, their lives would be free from hardship and difficulty. No, Paul said, that we must through MUCH tribulation enter the kingdom of God. Paul knew this because he had experienced that tribulation all throughout his first missionary journey.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Awesome” by Charles Jenkins and “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day

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