PAUL'S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY -All Asia Hears the Word - It Travelled From Paul's Lecture Hall
Ephesus was the major city of Asia Minor. Paul did not dissipate himself by going all over the province. Instead, he stayed in Ephesus and trained the people of Asia. Then his disciples went out to evangelize and teach their own people...“so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” While Paul stayed in Ephesus for two full years, a number of his disciples and colleagues carried on missionary activity in the neighboring cities. It was during these years that the churches at Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea were founded, although Paul does not appear to have visited these cities in person (cf. Col. 2:1, 4:13). It is possible that all seven of the churches of Asia which John
addressed in Revelation were founded about this time. The province was intensively evangelized, and became one of the leading centers of Christianity for centuries afterwards. Paul later stationed Timothy at Ephesus. He wrote—“Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus...that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim.1:2-3).
Truth Has a Cost
Eleven years later (68 A.D.), Paul said to Timothy: “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim.1:15). Many in Asia Minor were not loyal to Paul or the truths he had taught them. It was the same in all the Galatian churches, too. Many of these people received the truth and greatly rejoiced in it for a season (cp. Jn. 5:35, 6:66). After a time the pressures of life challenged these truths and they lost them. This is an awesome thing that we should understand—we do not own
these truths until we have paid for them. Hearing them does not make them ours. Handling them, admiring them, quoting them, and even preaching them does not mean they belong to us. They are purchased at a very high cost (see Job 3:20, Prov. 23:23, Rev. 3:18).
It is one thing to preach on meekness, but quite another thing to possess it. Meekness is “holy acceptance of our circumstances.” People can preach about meekness until something very unfair happens and then they turn sour and resort to vengeance. We can speak of God's love but true love “bears all things and endures all things.” Some of the greatest advocates of the love message cannot bear or endure anything. Grace is “divine enablement.”It is a divine substance that God pours into us to sustain us when we are in need (Heb. 4:16). His grace is sufficient. Grace enables us to bear up under any pressure. The greater the pressure, the greater the grace that is poured into us … unless we harden our hearts and cut off that life flow of grace. We have seen many who have failed to receive available grace in their time of trouble (Heb.12:15).
All of the Bible truths are so good and right and it is so easy to say “Amen” when we hear them preached. The question arises, “How much have we allowed these truths to penetrate our hearts and change our lives?” Everyone will be tested on the truths he receives. If we have not permitted God to work them into the fiber of our being they will only be theories and truisms to us, and eventually we will lose them (cf. Mk. 4:24-25). Bible truths are like beautiful pearls. Yet we cannot claim
ownership of these gems until we have paid dearly for them. Spiritual blessings and truths are not bought with money but with something far more expensive— the cost of obedience (Isa. 55:1-3).
A number of years ago, I resided in a church that had experienced revival for ten years. This church had tremendous spiritual life and vision. Everyone seemed to be walking together with the same common purpose. Then the scene changed and God created new circumstances to test the people. He wanted to see if they would be faithful to the truths with which they had been entrusted. To my surprise, most failed the test. Many were living superficial lives and disregarded those sacred truths.
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