A brother went up to a preacher who was known for taking regular trips to the Holy Lands and asked, “How are the Christians in the Seven Church of Asia doing?” It was a serious question by a man who was a new Christian. He was unaware of the ancient demise of those churches.
Another preacher recently went to search for believers in Ephesus, and was surprised to find but a handful meeting together for worship. Though we don’t know how many believers are in any given place at any given time, we do know that by the end of the apostle Paul’s life a lot of churches had been planted throughout the Mediterranean.
Paul did not shy away from telling things as they were. He upheld the Gospel in its perfection, but withheld nothing when dealing with the imperfections in the churches. He loved each and every soul that Jesus put into his care and spent his life “exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).
But even this great apostle knew that his days were numbered. He looked back on his faith and missionary work, and forward to meeting Jesus, and said:
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
All of us look back and wonder about the impact of our faith and good works for Jesus. We take courage from Paul’s utter confidence that:
“God is able to protect what I have put into his care until that Day.”
The writer to the Hebrew Christians cheers us on toward the finishing line with these words:
“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Hebrews 6:10).