Summary: Like Paul we need to pray that we as His ambassadors do not water down the word of God in our lives to appease our culture but instead fearlessly proclaim the truth to all we meet.
FEARLESS PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL MESSAGE (Ephesians 6:18-20)
• Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, the one called to proclaim the Gospel message to the Gentile people asked the church of Ephesus for prayer that he might fearlessly proclaim the Gospel message.
• In the sermon I am going to break down this compound word into two components: fear and less. Fear is a negative word and it is based on the assumption that one will get negative consequences for one’s behavior. Paul lived during the times of the Roman empire. This was an empire that was relatively peaceful as long as you were bowing down to the emperor and a multitude of Roman gods. Those who did not bow down were severely persecuted because it threatened Roman unity. Paul not only received persecution from Roman but also from the Jewish people. They believed Jesus was an impostor because He was cursed on a tree and because He did not conquer and kill Rome.
• Due to our fear of not conforming but to be loved by this world we as Christians allow the word of God to be more and more watered down in our lives and as a result we become less and less likely to be effective as lights unto the nations or to fulfill our roles as His ambassadors
• We as modern Christians do not face the same persecution as Paul but with what little persecution we do face – loosing friends and family or maybe even a career opportunity – we tend to conform to this word more than to God’s holy word
• While it might appear this passage has nothing to do with us as modern day Christians I believe it has everything do with how poorly we are living our lives. Do we as Christians fearlessly program the Gospel message or has His message flowed right off our backsides into the oblivion called modern day living?
THE AMBASSADOR’S CALL
Paul is Called
• Paul’s reaction to hearing about Jesus Christ was one of indignation and violence. He got letters from the high priests to take anyone who belonged to the Way and have them imprisoned at Jerusalem. Paul spoke murderous threats to Christians and he was present for the stoning of Stephen with full approval even though sentencing someone to death was illegal for the Jewish people to carry out.
• Fearless was Ananias’ response when Jesus told him to speak to Paul and give him the Gentile calling. Can you imaging what he must have thought? Ananias being a Christian, who was a devote follower of the law and a member of the Synagogue, rightly feared Paul in a human sense. He ended up trusting in Jesus and delivered a profound message to Paul: you have been chosen to proclaim the Lord’s name to the Gentiles, kings and Israel and you will suffer greatly for saying YES.
• The Pharisaic persecutor becomes an apologist and missionary.
• Paul had every reason to fear his missionary especially when it came to travel and to preaching to both the Gentiles of Rome and the Jewish people.
Paul’s Missionary Journey
• Based on the map outlining Paul’s third missionary journey – he travelled both by land and sea from one place to another. Travel was dangerous even in Roman times.
Shipwrecked at Sea
• Twice Paul states he was shipwrecked at sea
• For example, on his way to Rome a great storm hits so strong that the people on the ship don’t eat for fourteen days while the storm rages.
• They were in 90 feet of water so drowning was a grave possibility
• Since they did not have the sonar equipment we have today seeing reefs was impossible at night time. They threw overboard four anchors to keep the boat from hitting reefs and waited for morning
• It as so bad that the sailors tried to abandon ship on a life boat but Paul convinced them to stay
• At daylight they sail for a beach only to hit a sand bar and tear the stern to pieces
• Those who could swim jumped overboard and the rest grabbed planks and paddled there
• Rome built roads from one major settlement to another within the Roman empire.
• Historical Saying – “All Roads lead to Rome” was certainly true
• These roads were primarily safe because they were patrolled by Roman guards
• However, at night many bandits would hide in the cliffs or hills waiting to jump anyone who travelled – they would hit fast and run away before anyone could catch them
• Paul states he was in danger of bandits at all times during his journey
Persecution from Jews and Gentiles
• Persecuted by Rome for not bowing to the emperor and for not having belief in a single god