GRACE IN THE LIFE OF APOSTLE PAUL #1: AN OVERVIEW OF HIS LIFE AND LESSONS THEREFROM
Praise God, this is the fourth post in our Grace Series and it begins our discussion of grace in the life of Apostle Paul. Here’s a rundown of the previous posts in the series. The first explained the meaning of grace, in part, and stressed how it should be reflected in our relations with others. The second was a testimony of grace derived from my interactions with some believers online. In the third, we looked at the three major works of grace in the believer’s life. You may wish to click’on their titles to read these previous posts if you haven’t already seen them to get yourself up to speed before reading the present title.
AN OVERVIEW OF PAUL’S LIFE AND LESSONS THEREFROM
If asked to choose the apostle they envy his zeal and commitment to matters of the kingdom, most Christians would definitely choose Apostle Paul. Paul was so sold out to the work of God that he didn’t have a family. He explained the advantage of this in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 as freeing the unmarried from the concerns of pleasing their spouse, and I would add family, to render undivided devotion to the Lord.
Although the married have more physical responsibilities, they can still serve God acceptably if they eschew unnecessary distractions. Like Paul and the Lord Jesus before him, we can all give single-minded devotion to God by His grace.What are you allowing to come between you and the Lord? Click To Tweet
Paul, previously called Saul, was a lawyer by training, belonged to the Pharisee sect notorious for nitpicking others on matters of the Law, and was convinced the followers of Jesus were perverting the faith of their fathers. He made it his mission, with the backing of the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish ruling body) to exterminate them within and without the borders of Israel. He entrapped and arrested them in large numbers. He also oversaw their execution, the case of Stephen being an example (Acts 7:57-60). Paul was zealous for the wrong cause. His zeal was based on ignorance of the truth.What are you zealous for? Is it a cause assigned to you by God that honours Him? Click To Tweet
On one of his expeditions to hunt down some of the saints in foreign lands, this time in the city of Damascus, Paul had a life-changing encounter. The Lord Jesus appeared to him in blinding light and pointed out the futility of his agenda. Paradoxically, Jesus told him that in his attempts to persecute Him, Paul would only hurt himself.
“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'” – Acts 26:14Anyone fighting the Lord would only end up hurting himself or herself. Click To Tweet
We remember Emperor Nero who had many Christians killed on the trumped-up charge of burning Rome. He committed suicide not long after the massacre. Countless more examples abound in history.
The Lord then commissioned Paul to preach the faith he had sought to destroy. The full account can be found in Acts 9:1-19, 26:12-18.
Shortly thereafter, true to his all-out style of handling whatever he believed in, Paul commenced preaching that Jesus was the Christ in Damascus to the consternation of the Jews and followers of Christ. A plan to assassinate him was hatched, the first of many in the years to come, and his ministry of suffering for the name of Christ as the Lord Jesus had confided to Ananias in Damascus (Acts 9:16) had begun.
Subsequently, Paul played, presumably, the most significant role of all the apostles in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles (non-Jews) and his own people in line with the mandate given to him by the Lord (Acts 9:15). He journeyed to many lands for the cause of preaching and strengthening his converts and ended up writing most of what became the New Testament, besides the Gospels.
It is assumed that Paul was eventually martyred in Rome. It was recorded in the Book of Acts that he was living there (under house arrest), having been handed over to the Romans by the Jews for preaching Christ and the resurrection from the dead that accrues to those who believe in His name. The last we heard of him was in his Second Letter to Timothy, probably towards the end of his life (chapter 4, verse 6), where he made his famous and triumphant declaration:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7 & 8
What a glorious testimony! What an amazing work of grace! And it so turns out that it is from Paul we learn the significance, or better still indispensability, of grace in our lives as Christians. His writings were suffused with mentions of grace, each letter beginning and ending with a greeting or prayer for grace (See Romans 16: 7 & 20, Philemon 1:3 & 23).
The Grace Series will continue soon with a discussion of some MANIFESTATIONS OF GRACE IN PAUL’S LIFE. Glory to God!
Oh Lord, give me the grace to live in such a way that in the end, like Paul, I will be able to say, “I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.” Let it be so, dear Father, in Jesus’ name.
The scriptures used in this study are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible.
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