Steven Cole, in a sermon from Acts 20:1-16, “HOW ONE MAN CHANGED THE WORLD”
The apostle Paul changed the world as few other men have ever done. He lived in a day before jet airplanes or cars and paved highways. He had to go everywhere by foot, on donkeys, or by sailing vessel, none of which were very speedy. He did not have a telephone to call and talk with the leaders of churches that he had founded around the Roman Empire. He couldn’t even call someone across town. If he wanted to see the person, he had to walk across town and hope to find him at home. He didn’t have computers, email, copy machines, or other modern tools that make communication easier. He spent many years of his ministry in prison, unable to move about freely. He contended with fierce opposition both from outside and inside the church. And yet, after 25-30 years of ministry, he left a lasting impact on the world, not only in his time, but also for all times.
How did he do it? Much of it must be explained as God’s sovereign working through this man. As Paul taught, God has allotted to each of us various gifts and measures of faith (Rom. 12:3- 8; 1 Cor. 12). Thus even if we’re all faithful to the Lord, we will experience differing results in our ministries. It would be wrong to condemn ourselves because we don’t see the same results that Paul or Hudson Taylor saw. But we can learn from the apostle the biblical principles that governed his ministry and seek to apply them to our own lives, whatever gifts and calling God may have given us.
I am convinced that at the heart of Paul’s strategy was his unswerving commitment to establish and strengthen local churches.