REJOICE AND PRAISE
The Book of Acts relates how the apostle Paul was stoned to
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the
people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had
been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples
stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he
departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” Ac. 14:19, 20.
I heard once that people who are stoned are taken to a certain place
where there is a depression in the ground and the people stood above the
victim. Rocks and stones thrown from
above have much greater force.
Sometimes, there was even a platform high above the victim, from which
large stones were dropped.
You can be sure that Paul was in terrible physical condition
when he was dragged out of the city. He
was probably bleeding from wounds all over his body and especially his
head. He died. Yet, the very next day “he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” Verse 20.
Not only did God bring him back
to life, He miraculously healed the great apostle. How else could Paul have walked to another
city the next day?
During the fourteen years immediately following, the apostle
Paul endured many incredible trials and sufferings
Are they ministers
of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am
more, in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more
frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews
five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in
perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in
perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in
cold and nakedness.” 2 Co. 12:23-27.
We marvel over what Paul suffered
and endured. In the very next chapter he
knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot
tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one
caught up to the third heaven. And I
knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God
knoweth;) how that he was caught up into
paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to
utter. Of such an one will I glory, yet
of myself I will not glory but in mine infirmities. 2 Co.
The apostle Paul wrote his
letter to the Philippians when he was in prison in Rome and about to be tried. He knew that his time on earth was about to
end. In Philippians 1:21, he says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is
gain. But if I live in the flesh, this
is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a
desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more
needful for you.” The apostle had a
longing to be with Christ in heaven, and was unafraid of the future no matter
what it held for him.
Despite his sufferings and imminent death he exhorted: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” Phil. 4:4.
He said further, “Be careful for
nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let
your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all
understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ” Phil. 4:6-7.
“I can do all things through
Christ, which strengtheneth me.”
the apostle have such peace, joy and confidence in the midst of turmoil and the
possibility of execution? What gave him
such great faith?
Bible scholars have traced Paul’s journeys backwards fourteen years in time and
concluded that Paul was talking about himself in 2 Corinthians 13:2-4. He was the man who had been taken to
paradise. When the apostle was stoned to
death, God took him to heaven where he saw and heard what awaited him after he
finished his course on earth. It was so
wonderful, that he could not speak of it.
Words could never explain what he saw and heard. It would be an injustice to even try.
as Christians, have a future in heaven that is so wonderful that there are no
words that can adequately describe it.
Whatever happens to us on earth is nothing compared to our reward in
heaven where we will be with Christ forever.
Most of us are not afraid of dying, but we dread the suffering. Yet, trials and sufferings are more precious
than gold. 1 Pet. 1:7. Why?
It is because God is perfecting you and will do so until the very
end. It is because the Lord loves us and
He wants the absolute best for us when we get to heaven. There are many levels of reward in heaven and
He wants you to be as high as you possibly can.
“Women received their dead raised
to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they
might obtain a better resurrection.”
records that many early Christians stepped forward and revealed that they were
Christians so that they could be martyred for Christ and receive a better
reward in heaven. Many thousands were
cruelly burnt at the stake, split apart, killed by the sword and mangled by
bears, lions and tigers. All knew that
glory awaited them in heaven.
God has a
purpose for each one of us. Whatever
that purpose is, let us strive to fulfill it.
Even old age has its virtues.
Wisdom, gentleness, knowledge, understanding, compassion, patience and
faith often grow stronger with age. Even
though we may think that there is only grief and suffering as we grow old,
there is also peace, joy and closeness with our Lord Jesus if we do not
falter. No matter what lies ahead, there
is glory waiting for each one of us, if we endure.
us can ever come close to what the great apostle suffered and endured with
rejoicing. He served as an example for
later Christians, including us. In
truth, all of the disciples did likewise.
Be encouraged and endure with patience, faith and joy, no matter what
God has purposed for you. Glory is on
the other side, where there will be no more sickness, suffering or death. We will not go to our heavenly home one
second sooner or later than what God has assigned to us. Meanwhile, continue to fight the good fight
for the Lord Jesus.