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Archive for the ‘Lessons From Paul.’ Category

Driven by love…


“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
– Ephesians 4:2

Recently I was in Greece following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, and we finished the trip in Athens, on a hill near the Areopagus where you can see the Parthenon and the Acropolis in the background, and all the white buildings. There, I preached a sermon called “Paul: The Apostle of Love.”

And that’s exactly who Paul was. Paul was an apostle of love.

Many people read Paul’s writings and they think he was strict or stern because of some of the language he uses.

But truly, when you read Paul’s letters and read Paul’s story, the message that comes across over and over again is the grace and love of God towards us and the grace and love of God we ought to show towards one another.

It is the same message that Jesus had – the love of God and the love of your neighbor.

This was what Paul was driven by: He was driven by the love of God that was shown to him in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul believed that if God gave Jesus for Paul, that means that God loves Paul as much as He loves Jesus.

And if that’s true, it also means that God loves you as much as God loves Jesus. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have given Christ on the cross for you and He did.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you so much for your unending love and for showing your love to me through your Son, Jesus Christ. Without your love, I would be lost. Help me to share that same love with everyone I meet. Amen.

Devotion: How do you show God’s love to others?.

By Bobby Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

Did Paul Change the Meaning of the Crucifixion?.


The apostle Paul wasn’t even present at the crucifixion of Christ, yet he declared that this act was an act of cosmic and supernatural proportions.

This was a real drama of theological redemption.

 Here the curse of God’s law was visited on a man who bore the sins of His people.

For Paul, the crucifixion was the pivotal point of all history.

Paul was not satisfied to give an account of the event.

While affirming the historicity of the crucifixion, Paul added the apostolic interpretation of the meaning of the event.

He set forth propositions about the death of Christ.

The issue before the church is this: Is the apostolic propositional interpretation of the cross correct or not? Is Paul’s view merely a first-century Jewish scholar’s speculation on the matter, or is it a view inspired by God Himself?

What difference does it make?.

 This is not a trifling matter or a pedantic point of Christian doctrine.

Here nothing less than salvation is at stake.

To reject the biblical view of atonement is to reject the atonement itself.

To  reject the atonement is to reject Christ.

To reject Christ is to perish in your sin.

Please let us not soften this with an appeasing dance.

Let us be clear.

 Those teachers in the church who deny that the death of Christ was a supernatural act of atonement are simply not Christians.

They are enemies of Christ who trample Jesus underfoot and crucify Him afresh.

Taken from “Accepting the Atonement of the Cross” by Ligonier Ministries (used by permission).

By R.C. Sproul.

Did Paul Undermine Slavery?.


 

The historic and contemporary reality of slavery is never far away from how we think about the Bible. Instead of a frontal attack on the culturally pervasive institution of slavery in his day, Paul took another approach, for example, in his letter to Philemon.

Onesimus was a slave. His master Philemon was a Christian. Onesimus had evidently run away from Colossae (Colossians 4:9) to Rome where Paul, in prison, had led him to faith in Jesus. Now he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon. This letter tells Philemon how to receive Onesimus.

 In the process, Paul does at least 11 things that work together to undermine slavery.

1. Paul draws attention to Philemon’s love for all the saints. “I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” (1:5). This puts Philemon’s relation with Onesimus (now one of the saints) under the banner of love, not just commerce.

2. Paul models for Philemon the superiority of appeals over commands when it comes to relationships governed by love. “Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you” (1:8-9). This points Philemon to the new dynamics that will hold sway between him and Onesimus. Acting out of freedom from a heart of love is the goal in the relationship.

3. Paul heightens the sense of Onesimus being in the family of God by calling him his child. “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment” (1:10). Remember, Philemon, however you deal with him, you are dealing with my child.

4. Paul raises the stakes again by saying that Onesimus has become entwined around his own deep affections. “I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart” (1:12). The word for “heart” is “bowels.” This means, “I am deeply bound emotionally to this man.” Treat him that way.

To read the other ways Paul undermined slavery, see “How Paul Worked to Overcome Slavery” (used by permission).

By John Piper.

Healing the Spiritual With the Physical.


Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

Philippians 4:14

Recommended Reading
Philippians 4:10-19

If you have ever extended yourself on behalf of others and not been thanked for your efforts, then you know how the apostle Paul felt.

Though Paul did not serve the early churches in order to be rewarded, it seems strange to us that his work went unacknowledged.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that in the early days of his missionary work “no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving” except the Philippians (Philippians 4:15).

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Paul was in spiritually trying circumstances when he wrote that–under house arrest in Rome and witnessing other preachers misappropriating the Gospel for their own benefit.

But his spirits were lifted when Epaphroditus brought a gift to him from Philippi— perhaps food, clothes, or funds.

Often a physical, tangible act of kindness can lift the spirits of a discouraged brother or sister.

And it doesn’t take a lot.

A phone call, a note, a meal delivered, an invitation to lunch or dinner, an offer to babysit or help with yardwork–all of those physical actions can restore the brokenhearted.

The faintest whisper of support or encouragement uttered by a Christian in the ears of his fellow believer is heard in heaven.

John J. Murray

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Romans 4:1-7:25

Conversion of Paul – Bible Story Summary.


The Damascus Road Conversion of Paul was a Miraculous Turnaround

Conversion of PaulConversion of Paul by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio(circa 1600).Image: Public Domain

Scripture References:

Acts 9:1-19; retold in Acts 22:6-21 and Acts 26:12-18.

The Conversion of Paul – Story Summary:

Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee in Jerusalem after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, swore to wipe out the new Christian church, called The Way.

He got letters from the high priest, authorizing him to arrest any followers of Jesus in the city of Damascus.

On the Damascus Road, Saul and his companions were struck down by a blinding light, brighter than the noonday sun.

Saul heard a voice say to him:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4, NIV)

When Saul asked who was speaking to him, the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6, NIV)

The men with Saul heard the sound but did not see the vision of the risen Christ that Saul did.

Saul was blinded.

They led him by the hand into Damascus to a man named Judas, on Straight Street.

For three days Saul was blind and did not eat or drink anything.

Meanwhile, Jesus appeared in a vision to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and told him to go to Saul.

Ananias was afraid because he knew Saul’s reputation as a merciless persecutor of the church.

Jesus repeated his command, explaining that Saul was his chosen instrument to deliver the gospel to the Gentiles, their kings, and the people of Israel.

So Ananias found Saul at Judas’ house, praying for help.

Ananias laid his hands on Saul, telling him Jesus had sent him to restore his sight and that Saul might be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again.

He arose and was baptized into the Christian faith.

Saul ate, regained his strength, and stayed with the Damascus disciples three days.

Points of Interest From the Conversion of Paul:

• After his conversion, Saul changed his name to Paul.

• The conversion of Paul shows that Jesus himself wanted the gospel to go to the Gentiles and that it was no human being’s idea.

That would quash any argument from the early Jewish Christians that the gospel was only for the Jews.

• The men with Saul did not see the risen Jesus, but Saul did. This miraculous message was meant for one person only, Saul.

• Saul witnessed the risen Christ, which fulfilled the qualification for an apostle (Acts 1:21-22).

Only those who had seen the risen Christ could testify to his resurrection.

• Jesus did not distinguish between his church and his followers, and himself. Jesus told Saul he had been persecuting him.

This serves as a warning that anyone who persecutes Christians or the Christian church is persecuting Christ himself.

• In one moment of fear, enlightenment, and regret, Saul understood that Jesus was indeed the true Messiah, and that he (Saul) had helped murder and imprison innocent people

. Saul realized that despite his previous beliefs as a Pharisee, he now knew the truth about God and was obligated to obey him.

• Saul of Tarsus possessed perfect qualifications to be an evangelist for Christ: He was versed in Jewish culture and language, his upbringing in Tarsus made him familiar with the Greek language and culture as well, his training in Jewish theology helped him connect the Old Testament with the gospel, and as a skilled tentmaker he could support himself with that trade.

• When retelling his conversion later to King Agrippa, Paul said Jesus told him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

(Acts 26:14, NIV) A goad was a sharp stick used to control oxen or cattle.

Some interpret this as meaning Paul had pangs of conscience when persecuting the church.

Others believe Jesus meant that it was futile to try to oppress the church.

• Paul’s life-changing experience on the Damascus Road led to his baptism and instruction in the Christian faith.

He became the most determined of the apostles, suffering brutal physical pain, persecution, and finally martyrdom.

He revealed his secret of enduring a lifetime of hardship for the gospel: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)

Question for Reflection:

The same Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and did such a mighty work in Paul wants to work in my life too.

What could Jesus do if I surrendered as Paul did and gave him complete control of my life?

By 

The Miracle Of Belief.


“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility; but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his “excellency of speech.”

Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God.

The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented.

The preacher is there as the representative of God – “as though God did beseech you by us.”

He is there to present the Gospel of God.

If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ.

Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.

“I, if I be lifted up . . . , will draw all men unto Me.”

By ELDER MARVIN.

Apostolic Beheading; the Death of Paul.


The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, summed up his own contribution to Christianity better than anyone else could.

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

Wherever he carried the gospel, the church put down deep and enduring roots.

He saw himself as primarily an apostle to the Gentile races.

Paul was ideally equipped for the role. In him three great cultures merged.

A Roman citizen, he had entree to the entire Roman world.

Steeped in Greek culture, he could convey his ideas across the Hellenized world.

A Pharisee, strictest of the Jews, he carried in himself the Mosaic law and had points of contact in the synagogues of the empire.

Paul began his career as a persecutor of the faith.

After meeting Christ in a daylight vision on the road to Damascus, where he was traveling to arrest Christians, his life was transformed.

Christ ever after was all to him and he gave us insights into the Lord as deep as any found in the writings of the apostles who walked with the Lord.

“I resolved to know nothing among you except Christ, and him crucified.”

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”

“He was the firstborn over all creation.”

“That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, both in heaven and the earth and under the earth.”

In addition to his Christology, Paul pioneered the missionary tactics of the early church, brought the gospel to the Gentiles and came as close as any apostolic writer to creating a systematic theology.

His Letter to the Romans has had a profound impact upon our understanding of guilt and grace, predestination and faith.

Wherever reformation has come to the church the ideas of this epistle have played a leading part.

His letters were prized by the early church.

His fellow apostle Peter recognized their worth and included them with the other scriptures.

According to The People’s Chronology, Paul was beheaded with a sword near Rome, possibly on this day, June 29, 67.

This date is open to dispute.

Paul’s death has been variously placed between 62 and 67.

We shall probably never know for sure.

What we do know is that he gave his life for the faith he had persecuted.

At his conversion, a prophet named Ananias was sent to him to show him what things he must suffer.

In an early letter he catalogued some of those sufferings.

It is a long list. His beheading was but the culmination of a life of sacrifice “poured out as a drink offering” to his Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:6).

Bibliography:

  1. Bible. New Testament, especially autobiographical passages from Paul letters and biographical passages from the book of Acts.
  2. Daniel-Rops, Henri. The Heroes of God. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1965, 1958.
  3. Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998.
  4. Lockyer, Herbert. All the Apostles of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1972.
  5. “Paul, St.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Churchedited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  6. Pollock, John. The Apostle, a Life of Paul. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1969.
  7. Prat, F. “Saint Paul.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  8. Vigeveno, H. S. Thirteen Men Who Changed the World. Glendale, California: Regal, 1966.
  9. Various encyclopedia and internet articles.

Last updated April, 2007.

By Church History Timeline.

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