Welcome Valley Media                                                                                                                                                                      

Grown-Up Bible Stories

Willing to Pay the Price

The news facing the missionary wasn’t good. Everywhere he went, sincere Christians warned that he was heading for serious trouble. The warnings didn’t come as gossip or idle chatter. They rose from the speakers’ personal communion with God. They had heard God’s voice in their hearts, and now passed on what they’d heard to their friend.

The missionary recognized God’s voice in these warnings, but he also believed God was telling his heart to continue into danger. When friends wept and begged, he asked them not to break his heart. He was willing to be chained in prison for the cause of Jesus Christ. Beyond that he was even willing to die. He would go where he felt he was needed. He was totally sold out to his Lord and willing to pay the price of that commitment.

Ironically, this most famous of missionaries wasn’t leaving for the mission field. He was returning to his homeland, and Paul did return, all the way to Jerusalem.

Paul had angered many of his Jewish countrymen by encouraging foreigners to come to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. While his fellow citizens weren’t opposed to the conversion of outsiders, Paul called on people to come to God through Jesus Christ. That message must remain totally unacceptable to the politicians who had influenced the Romans to execute Jesus. For Paul to merely show up would offend some of them. But Paul showed up. He was a missionary. He had found eternal life in Jesus Christ and was willing to pay the price for sharing what he’d found with others. [This essay considers historical events from long ago. It is not the intention of the author to cast judgment on any ethnic group or to suggest the collective guilt of any nationality for the actions of a few individuals in history.]

Paul’s challenges didn’t only come at the hands of his enemies. He also needed to show his deep respect for the sensibilities of some of his fellow Christians. The earliest Christians were Jewish. In spite of a growing rift between Christianity and its parent religion, these believers retained their traditional values and practices while also believing in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. Rumors that Paul taught people to abandon the old ways had caused concern among such Christians.

The leaders of the church knew the rumors were false and that Paul himself was faithful to the old practices. They encouraged Paul to publicly worship in the temple to demonstrate his loyalty. Paul agreed.

The temple was an international worship center. People came from all over the ancient world to pray and sacrifice there. Among those who came were some of Paul’s enemies from the eastern part of the Roman Empire. These individuals saw Paul doing the same good religious things as themselves. Unfortunately, they assumed the worst and shouted an unfounded accusation. They claimed he had brought heathens into the temple to defile it. People went from worship to violence at their cry. The crowd became mob-like. Many didn’t even know what the noise was about. It only appeared that a very bad man was in their holy place. Paul faced sudden death at the hands of people whose religion demanded a fair trial. He had done his best to represent Jesus Christ well among his people. His effort had backfired, and now the price that he was willing to pay came due.

At that point in history, Roman troops occupied and policed Jerusalem. A detachment of soldiers soon ran from their fortress to address the growing unrest in the temple. They charged into the violent scene and wrestled Paul from the blows of the crowd. They carried him as a prisoner back to their headquarters, literally carrying him as they fended off the mob.

Paul caught the attention of the military commander when they arrived at the fort entrance. He asked for a chance to speak to his assailants. He then tried to explain what Jesus Christ meant to him and how the Christian message related to their own faith and history. But the mob became enraged again. The Romans locked Paul safely away. He’d been willing to pay the price. Now he had to actually pay up.

The rest of the Biblical account of Paul’s life isn’t about a healthy missionary seeing countless people pass from death to life as he preached in exotic cities. Rather it is about an old man chained in brutal ancient prisons. It’s a story that fades out before detailing what other sources indicate was its hero’s death as a martyr of Jesus Christ. Paul had stated his willingness to pay the price of serving Jesus. A few bold days of travel, a few days of shamelessly representing the Gospel, and the decision to pay the price was over. Deciding took far less time than did the actual years in jail.

Yet, before shaking your head at the senselessness of it all, consider the rest of the story. Paul the prisoner shared the message of God’s love and eternal life with kings and governors—the most important people of his world. He would hear the notoriously immoral King Agrippa testify that he’d nearly persuaded him to become a Christian. When his life was threatened, the government moved him to a safer prison under escort of hundreds of cavalry and infantry. When the prison ship in which his guards sought to transport him to Rome wrecked, Paul survived. In fact an angel appeared to him—a rare event in itself—and promised not only his own survival, but safety for all the others aboard the ship as well. When a poisonous snake bit Paul, he didn’t get sick. When he encountered a sick man, he miraculously healed him. Christians he’d never met came to cheer him when he was discouraged. He penned words that we still recognize as actually originating with God. And that weary, unfairly imprisoned old missionary brought the gospel of Jesus Christ into the palace of the Roman Emperor.

So which ending do you prefer for this story--the old man rotting in jail because he chose to serve God or the miracle-working holy man who brought God’s message to the power center of the ancient world? They’re the same man. It’s the same story. The second ending was paid for by the first. The Christian church, then as now, needed someone willing to pay the price. One man stood willing, and the world has never been the same.


Those of us who are Christians know that peace with God and eternal life (what we call salvation) come as a free gift. We do not pay for it. It is given to us simply because we trust in Christ. Jesus Himself paid the price for salvation on the cross. We rightly become concerned when people talk of earning their way with God.

What we don’t always remember is that there is a price to pay if we are to get the most out of our free gift. God reserves His biggest blessings for those who are willing to go all the way with Him. For Paul, paying the price involved imprisonment and ultimately death. For many of us it’s less dramatic. But dramatic or otherwise, benefitting the most from the free gift of salvation comes at a cost.

What about you? Are you struggling spiritually? Have you ever pondered that maybe the reason God never seems to help you overcome temptation relates to the fact that you are unwilling to give up the pleasures and benefits your particular sin offers? Maybe you’re not willing to exercise the self discipline necessary for victory. Maybe you’re unwilling to humble yourself and submit to authority. Maybe you would like to see God use you in His service but are unwilling to yield full control of your life to Him. Maybe you even want to become a Christian but are unwilling to experience the changes God will work in your life when He gives you that free gift. You can only know the fullness of God’s grace and power if you are willing to pay the price. Are you?

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Paul in Philippians 3:8-10)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


How to Have a Relationship with God

Home    Bible Studies    Easy English    Essays    Grown-Up Bible Stories   Multimedia    Stories from the Book Itself

About this Site    Copyright Release    Links    Contact: mail@welcomevalley.com