Read Acts 16:9-40. According to the passage, why did the Philippians react so negatively to the gospel? What important principle can we find in their reaction that we always need to be wary of ourselves?
In what other ways can this principle be made manifest, even in the lives of professed Christians?
The gospel is the good news of God’s mighty actions in Christ that lead to forgiveness, acceptance, and trans-formation (Rom. 1:16, 17). Through sin, the whole world was condemned; through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the whole world was given a new opportunity to have the eternal life that God originally wanted for all humanity. God’s mighty work was done for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). This work of redemption was accomplished outside of us, by Jesus, and we can add nothing to it—nothing. Yet, the gospel becomes real in our lives only when we accept not only its condemnation of our sins but God’s forgiveness of those sins through Jesus.
Being that the gospel is such good news and is free, why would anyone resist or fight against it? The answer is simple: accepting the gospel calls us to set aside confidence in self and in worldly things such as money, power, and sexual attractiveness. Money, sex, and power are good things when submitted to the will and ways of God. But when people cling to these trivial matters that substitute for the assurance of the gospel, the gospel and those who proclaim it become a threat.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2: 1, 2. Paul and Silas entered Thessalonica in pain, their bodies bearing the cuts and bruises they had received from their heavy beating and confinement in Philippi (Acts 16:22-24). But tokens of the mighty power of God (Acts 16:26, 30, 36) had encouraged their hearts. They boldly entered the synagogue at Thessalonica, in spite of their pain, and spoke again of the Messiah, who had changed their lives and sent them on a mission to preach the good news in places where it had not been heard before.
What are the things of the world that, if we’re not careful, can draw us away from the Lord? Why, then, is it so important to keep the Cross and its meaning always in the center of our thoughts, especially when the lure of the world seems the strongest.