Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Born Out Of Due Time

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, (1 Corinthians 1:1)

He wrote more books of our Bible than any other apostle. Some of them wrote none. As I was going over notes from Sunday’s sermon in 1 Corinthians 1, I was struck as to how Paul had so much to overcome in convincing people, which makes his witness so much the greater.

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1)

Paul had not been convinced by the witness of men. Stephen’s impassioned telling of the gospel did not impress him, though Stephen had impeccable credentials:

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts 6:8)

Yet, Stephen died, while Paul not only watched but was complicit in the execution.

And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. (Acts 7:58)
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

Think a church would hire him to be their minister? But, he didn’t stop there:

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3)

Doing that locally wasn’t enough. Saul enlarged his coast, his goal stretched wider:

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)

Unlike Moses, who said he could not give a speech, or Jonah, who just ran away, we have no indication of Saul listening to God’s calling after witnessing the gospel. Why was Saul given what no other received after Jesus’ death – apostleship:

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:3-4)

My personal opinion is that he was called to do exactly what he did – witness to Jesus’ ability to change lives. Yes, the other apostles changed, and they witnessed, but not as dramatically as Paul:

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: (1 Corinthians 15:8-10a)

We, too, can be the recipients of that same grace. The ability to change lives is in God, not the passion of men. Paul endured the same punishment he had been intent on giving to believers simply because he believed. Or do we fear that grace?

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