From Promise to Fulfillment

In Acts 23:11 we read (in KJV):

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

What a comfort.  Paul had been abused by the Jews of Jerusalem, arrested, and thrown in jail.  But, now the Lord, Himself, gave Paul a promise that he would go to Rome and testify there.  End of story.  All’s well that ends well.

Not quite.

The next few chapters describe that the following events occurred between the ‘promise’ and its ‘fulfillment’:

  1. Paul is in bonds (chains, shackles) and prison for another two years.
  2. Paul is aboard ship and in a storm that is so strong everyone thought they were going to die.
  3. He is shipwrecked, and must swim to an island.
  4. He is snake-bit by a venomous snake, while gathering wood for a fire

What happened???

The promise seemed so simple and direct, what had gone wrong?

Nothing.

Christians who have studied this passage sometimes come up with their own version of the events, that might go something like one of these:

  1. It wasn’t that difficult for Paul.  After all, he knew the promise and who made it.
  2. There was a purpose in every event, so it’s no big deal.

Ok, let’s look at this differently then….  “You” know the promise that has been made you, and “You” know that there is purpose behind every event that comes your way – so, what is YOUR problem?

Yes, it feels differently when put that way doesn’t it?  Of course it does.  The truth is that this was a very difficult and trying period for Paul.  Paul, the evangelist.  Paul, the church planter.  Paul, the church encourager and overseer.  Now, Paul the prisoner.  Not for a few hours, days, or even months.  We are talking about years here.  Oh yes, we could do that.  Really?

The truth about Paul’s experience may be a bit more complicated than it appears on the surface.  There is an enemy of the gospel, and this enemy was determined to see Paul stopped.  However, Paul had an advocate (attorney), who saw to it that Paul survived any obstacle thrown at him.  Now here is the clincher to this discussion — while God delivered Paul from every obstacle and challenge, He did not stop them from coming his way.  He did, however, give Paul the power to overcome every challenge that came his way, and Paul was assured nothing would keep him from the promise that was made earlier.

So, my friend, do not think you are immune to the storms, imprisonments, beatings, snakebites, and poking of the enemy.  You are not.  But, you are also not a rug to be walked on, trod on, beaten down, or destroyed.  God has given you the provisions and training necessary to win.

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One Response to “From Promise to Fulfillment”

  1. beamcguire@gmail.com Says:

    Can’t tell you the numbers of people I have encountered that believe once one becomes a Christian there are “no problems” and when trials and tests come they just about go off the deep. Obviously they don’t know the Word and what it states about these things. Excellent blog and a good reminder that we WILL have troubles along this journey of life. It’s easier though if we keep our eyes on the promise and not the problems! Blessings….

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