Pain Changing Into the Blessing to Save the Age (Acts 18:1-4) November 6, 2011
Everyone has pain and suffering that no one else knows about. There are many different kinds of pain such as individual, familial, societal, or generational. I read a book called “Crossing the Borders of Heavens” last week. It was a journalist account of North Koreans who staked their lives to survive as they crossed the border. It has been made into a TV documentary and drove the entire world into tears. I teared up a number of times reading it. “There are people who suffer and cry tears of blood in this very age in which I am living. Why did God let me read this book? What must I do?” I thought about the pain of this age far greater than the pain of an individual and family and prayed for North Korean missions. People live as they translate pain into many different shapes and forms. Some take it as their fate and some struggle to death in order to change their fate. On the other hand, some just live with it through tears and pain because there are no other options. What answer does the Bible give us? Some say pain and suffering are the “refining of faith” or “hidden answers and disguised blessings”. That is why they say “You must bear with it and wait in faith.” It is right, but you must have at least two answers before you come to that conclusion.
1. God has given us the fundamental solution to all problems we face. It is not just a religion; it is the Gospel.
1) What is the Gospel? God sent His son with the authority of Christ. Through that Christ, the three fundamental sources of all of our pain and suffering that we all face. What are those three sources?
a. Curses – It refers to the curses that come as a result of the Original Sin, curses of the family, and curses that come through your personal transgressions and sins. Blessings must come in your life, but curses that you do not even know about come moment by moment. It is a tremendous fact that Jesus died for you on the cross, cleansed all of your sins and curses, and made you the source of all blessings. How God called Abraham out of a region, family, and household of idolatry and made him the “source of blessings” is the blessing we must enjoy (Gal.3:29).
b. Spiritual problems – Spirits of the Darkness and curses that are invisible to your eyes are hovering over your life. Jn.10:10 calls them “thieves”. They thieve your life without your noticing. You try to live an honest and diligent life, but frustrating and incomprehensible things that drive you to failures constantly occur. You have no choice but to face failures and pain. Christ resurrected, crushed the devil’s head, and destroyed its work (1Jn.3:8).
c. Separation from God – Man, who was made in God’s image and was made to enjoy all of His blessings left God and live as a wanderer. Have you ever got lost? Time passes, and you later break out in a cold sweat. That is not the end. You do not know the way of your life. You do not know where to go or what to do. You just live. That is why you worry about tomorrow, and have to struggle on your own when problems come.
2) Because they do not know this Gospel, unbelievers live in pain, suffering, and failures. Even believers have no choice but to live a pitiful life like unbelievers if they do not know Christ and the blessings they received through Him. A wave of curses will come over you as long as you live in this world. Satan is clearly doing evil deeds. He prowls like a roaring lion looking to devour believers. People look unto the world instead of God because of immediate hardships. That is the idol worshipping of believers. They look at other things (world, money, fame, and people) and receive strength.
a. Israelites in the Old Testament are the prime example. They were the chosen people. They were liberated from all sins and became the sources of blessings through the blood of the lamb. They only needed to hold onto the word of promise and follow God. The Bible says they will be blessed whether they come in or go out. They were to be the nation of priesthood that must save the world through the blessings they received. That is the blessing of the Gospel. The U.S. was blessed as that nation for at least a century. But now it has lost hold of all these blessings. They gave blood sacrifice, but did not know the significance of the blood of the lamb. They did not know what their identity is. They looked unto other things but God. They eventually fell into the world worshipping idols, and became enslaved, captivated, and colonized. That is the history of Israel.
b. Today’s passage emphasizes that Aquila was a Jew. He did serve God to a degree, but he did not know the Gospel at all. He was eventually banished from Rome because he was Jewish. How miserable would that have been?
c. In 1910s, North Korea was called the Jerusalem of Korea. But unspeakable pain and curses came upon the region where the first Korean theological seminary was established and great revival once took place. And it began through a Christian family. Kim Il Sung’s mother was Encourager Kang Ban Suk. It says in Mt.16:16-19 that those who have the mystery of Christ are the rock, which is pronounced “Ban Suk” in Korean. It is a tremendous name. But a child who later brought misery to one age came from her. She must have not really known Christ.
2. Now, hold onto the answer of what must we who have the Gospel do.
1) Understand Christ who came as the Gospel and enjoy holding onto Him every day, every moment in every problem and incident.
a. First, you must realize. “God has resolved my curses, Satan’s authority that worked within this world and my life, and spiritual problems through Christ. God is with me, and I am bound to receive His blessings.”
b. Hold onto this. It is an expression that only we use. When problems and incidents come, this gets thrown out the window. So we fall into discouragement and scars and that is when Satan comes attacking. At that time you must hold onto Christ through the Word and within prayer.
2) What happens when you continue to do this? You will come to experience the Gospel.
a. It is not just to an extent your problems are solved. God will make everything into evidence to the ends of the earth according to Acts 1:8. His country went astray and he was taken captive, but God raised Daniel as the prime minister. Aquila also went back into Rome. He did so with the evidence of blessings incomparable to what he had lost.
b. Aquila later reached a point where he could explain the Christ he realized and held onto and preached to others. Even in Corinth to where he was chased away, he realized Christ through Paul, received training continuously, and prayed. In Acts 18:26 and on, Aquila and his wife Priscilla later explained Christ to a Jewish man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures named Apollos. This is an evangelist.
c. In Rom.16:3-4, the couple became the coworkers of Paul and the main figures to save Rome. They were Paul’s coworkers who saved the superpower of that age, Rome. I hope all of you may become coworkers to one another to save the United States. They knew the reason for their living and death. They needed not to fear anything. They were happy.
I hope God may use you like Priscilla and Aquila (especially interracial couples). If you have pain and problems that no one else knows, hold onto Christ more and experience that Jesus is the Christ. I bless and hope that your pain may change into the blessing to save this age and that you may become witnesses to save the United States.