“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:9, KJV)
I have heard this preached many times, and it makes sense. When you are serving the Lord, there will be opposition. Moreover, when you are seeing much success in the ministry, expect great opposition. I have seen this personally in ministry. While I was in Savannah, I participated in a ministry at the beach in the summers. We had a praise and worship band that was pretty good. So, we would go to the pavilion on the beach, set up our band and play music, and serve hotdogs and sodas free of charge. As soon as the music started playing, people would come up from the beach to sit in the shade, listen and partake of our food and drink. When they came up, we would have one of our band members share their testimony and I then would visit people at the tables and share the gospel with them.
However, sometime later, we began getting complaints. First, we were told that we could not give out hotdogs and sodas as it was competing with the snack bar on the pavilion. I clearly understood this and agreed. It was an oversight on my behalf. So, we quit this practice. We just had the band play and we shared the message with people. the snack-bar revenues must have increased while we were there, because every time we cranked up the band, people came up and purchased food.
However then, I was informed that we could not use the public pier any longer for free. We would have to reserve it and pay a fee. This we did and felt things were fine. Then a while later, I was called to a meeting with one of the city officials. He claimed to be a member of a Baptist church. He stated that we could no longer, share testimonies, the gospel, or play any sort or Christian music on the public pier. His statement was that people did not go on vacation to hear that sort of thing. Of course, this was not what we were experiencing when we were there.
While ministering in Ephesus, Paul was having a highly effective ministry and yet, encountered opposition to the message of the gospel. He indicated that there were “many adversaries.” Regarding Paul’s work in Ephesus, Luke recorded the following.
“But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19:9, ESV)
Paul presented the gospel in the synagogue at Ephesus and spoke for about three months. Many believed and yet, some as mentioned here started “speaking evil” of the message. Paul then did not quit but moved to a new location “in the hall of Tyrannus.”
There are countless ways that we will experience opposition to the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes this happens from forces within the church and sometimes from those outside of the church. Yet, in both cases, any opposition to the work is from the evil one (Eph 6:10-12). Things like divisions, descensions, and divisiveness within the church can cause great harm to a fruitful ministry. Opposition is always present on the outside of the church. I personally experienced opposition both within and outside the church to the gospel. Yet, there is only one way to overcome this. James gave us the formula, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, KJV) It may take time, but we must be continuous in James’ exhortation.