The conversion of Saul of Tarsus was a turning point in the church’s history, and God used several people to touch his life. We remember Paul and forget the people who helped him get started and kept him going forward.
Mr. Fuller remarked: “There is a gold-mine in India, but it seems as deep as the center of the Earth. Who will venture to explore it?” An answer and a man were in waiting. “I will venture to go down,” replied William Carey; “but remember that you, must hold the ropes. This,” said Mr. Fuller afterward, “we solemnly engaged to do, pledging ourselves never to desert him as long as we should live.”
William Carey spent 41 years in India, and translated the Scripture into 40 languages.
Who are the people on the end of the rope?
First of all, they are converts! (Verse 5) Praise the Lord for people who go soul winning and win people to Christ! We see here that Paul became a convert. The greatest need today is for more people to get involved in producing more converts. We all need to pray and ask God to give us more converts. What a tragedy that many Christians will stand before the Lord one day and not have one convert in their lifetime. I keep preaching that America is a Christian nation, but to be a Christian nation we must have Christians. If every Christian would have a convert who would have a convert, who had a convert we could reach the world for Christ. We need to remember that converts belong to the Lord. This would help us value them more. We see so many people come to Christ and forget them. The people on the end of the rope for missions are real converts who have given their life for the Gospel.
Secondly, we see that these people are chosen vessels. (Verses 15-16) We see Paul was chosen of the Lord to bear His name before the Gentiles. We need to show our converts that the Lord has something for them to do. The people on the end of the rope will be used to do great things for the Lord.
Thirdly, we see the people on the end of the rope have had their lives changed. (Verse 20) Paul here is preaching the very Christ Whom he had persecuted. When we get saved, our life begins to change. I can remember when I first got saved and went to work the next week. We would go to a bad bookstore during our lunch break. I was with some of my coworkers and had gone there many times before. But, this time when I went to open the door of the bookstore I couldn’t open it and go in. The Holy Spirit would not allow me to go in because it wasn’t right to be in there with that kind of material and atmosphere.
Fourthly, we see that the people on the end of the rope are our missionaries; those who are taking the Gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ in all the world. The Gospel is to be preached to every creature.
Who are the people holding the rope?
This is a great example of people helping others do what they themselves cannot do! Paul was the greatest teacher, preacher and missionary the world has ever known outside of Jesus Christ! Yet, he would not have done it all if someone hadn’t held the rope! Let me share with you some of the people who can be rope holders!
We need people like Ananias who the Lord asked to help guide the young missionary. Ananias was asked to help guide Paul. Ananias was asked to do something that he thought was difficult. Our young missionaries need someone to help them when they first start out in their life as a missionary. Many pastors and churches are asked to help missionaries get started. Many churches are asked to do some things that seem difficult for them when the missionary first starts. Thank the Lord for those churches that are not afraid to do the difficult.
We need people like Barnabas who will take them in and encourage the missionaries. Paul was willing to do what the Lord chose him to do, but not everyone believed in him. Many young missionaries have been questioned about their call to be a missionary. They need people to believe in them and encourage them along the way.
We need people like the disciples who would hold the rope when needed. There are times when things can get dangerous for the missionaries; when their life is on the line, facing health issues, financial stress and persecution from others.
You don’t have to be well known to hold the rope. We don’t know the names of these disciples. God can use widows, teenagers, children, single parents and well-to-do people. As a missionary myself, I have had many different types of people hold the rope for my family. Holding the rope can be dangerous and time consuming, but we must be faithful to the end!
The results of people holding the rope.
This is where it gets exciting. They held the rope not knowing the future! We never know what God will do with our missionaries. Look at Paul! He was a great soul winner, preacher of the Gospel and church planter. He went on three great missionary journeys. He was credited as the author of 13 books of the New Testament! All of these things could not have been done without those who held the rope for Paul that night.
Others like Adoniram Judson, who translated the Bible into Burmese, planted 63 churches and had 7,000 converts. Some of our missionaries are doing the same thing by starting churches around the world! We need to pray for more Bible preaching, soul-winning missionaries! We don’t know all that the future holds for our missionaries! What will be accomplished because you are part of those that are holding the rope for your missionaries? Please let me use this story I heard on this topic.
“Through the quiet streets of a fishing village a cry rang out, ‘Boy Overboard!’ Quickly a crowd gathered and anxious eyes looked out over the rushing water to see the figure of the drowning boy. Every anxious mother’s heart cried, ‘Is it my boy?’
A rope was brought, and the strongest swimmer in the village volunteered to rescue the drowning lad. Tying one end of the rope around his waist, he threw the other end into the crowd and plunged into the raging waters. Eagerly everyone watched the swimmer break the tide with strong, sure, strokes and a cheer went up when he reached the boy and grasped him safely in his powerful arms. ‘Pull in the rope!’ ‘Pull in the rope!’ He shouted over the furious waters.
The villagers looked from one to another, ‘Who is holding the rope?’ they asked? No one was holding the rope! In the excitement of watching the rescue, the end of the rope had slipped into the water and disappeared. Powerless to help, they watched not one, but two precious lives go down because no one had made it their business to hold the short end of the rope!”
If we are not careful, we will not only lose the lost, but also some of our missionaries! We need more people in the basket, and we need more rope holders. Has the rope slipped through our churches and left the lost without a Gospel preaching missionary? Better yet, has the roped slipped through your hands leaving people drowning in the gulf of sin that will send them to Hell? Be sure that you hold the rope!
Dr. Steve Heidenreich