In a message, “Christ’s Purpose in Evangelism,” Dr. John Piper said:
When Jesus looked into the future and predicted what would happen to his disciples, he said something very sobering, but also very encouraging. He said (in Luke 21:12–13),
They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony.
The sobering thing here is the fact that, even though the cause of Christ will eventually triumph in the whole universe because he is alive and sovereign, nevertheless in the short run following Jesus will definitely mean arrest and persecution for some of his disciples.
The encouraging thing in these words is that God intends the persecution and imprisonments to be a strategic opportunity for witness to the truth of the gospel. Luke 21:13—”This will be a time for you to bear testimony.” Imprisonment will interrupt your evangelistic strategy, but it will not interrupt God’s evangelistic strategy.
Paul’s Plans and God’s Plans
Have you ever stopped to think how much of Paul’s witness to Christ was given in circumstances he did not plan? I’m not debunking planning. It’s essential. Paul had very clear evangelistic plans. That’s obvious from Romans 15 and from the book of Acts. The point I’m making is that God is the master evangelistic planner. What he wants is people who wear the shoes of readiness to move with the gospel (Ephesians 6:15). And once we are moving with a heart for lost people, there will be many interruptions and surprises—but none of them without evangelistic purpose.
“They will deliver you up to prisons and take you before governors and kings. That will be a time for witness.” In other words, always and in every circumstance—especially the unexpected ones, and the frustrating ones—be ready to bear witness to Christ.