By Alfred Cuellar
Saul, born in Tarsus, a city in the Roman Province of Cilicia (Acts 22:3). A Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:25-28), a Hebrew of Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). Saul or Paul the Apostle who began using the name Paul during his first missionary journey on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:9). Two thirds of the New Testament is penned by the Apostle Paul.
Paul, “a chosen vessel by God” (Acts 9:15). A man that was “separated from his mother’s womb for the work of the Lord by the grace of God “(Gal. 1:15-16). The persecutor of the Church becomes the persecuted for the Church.
Paul is first introduced by the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts 7:58. After approving the stoning of Stephen, he relentlessly sets out to destroy the “way” (Acts 9:2). Paul was sincere about destroying this new movement, because he had a zeal for the traditions of the fathers of Judaism (Gal. 1:13-14).
Imagine That … He Encounters The Risen Lord
While on his way to Damascus (130 miles from Jerusalem), he encounters the risen Lord Jesus and is blinded by the light (Acts 9:3, 8; 26:13). This was the pivotal point in the life of Paul, and he would be obedient unto the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). Before his encounter with the risen Lord, Paul thought that he was without fault, that he was defending the religion of God. Paul was a Pharisee, he showed his righteousness according to the letter of the law. He was ritualistic, and personified an outward holiness and righteousness, which meant doing the works of the law even to the point of approving the stoning of Stephen.
My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts
During the execution of Stephen, the first martyr of the church, I believe Paul thought that by putting Stephen to death, this would bring glory to God and advance his cause. The truth of the matter is, that Stephen’s death did bring glory to God. The death of Stephen would be embedded in the mind of Paul. In 1 Timothy 1:12-15 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy… that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
What A Story Of Redemption!
Paul’s life is the amazing story of redemption, where God’s mercy and grace was poured into his life. He of all the Apostles clearly understood a righteousness that comes by faith and not by the works of the law (Romans 3:28). The parable of the Pharisee and the publican is a good example of the righteousness by the law and a righteousness by faith (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee exalted himself, while the publican humbled himself. One was found dressed in worldly glory, while the other was found naked before his maker. Today in the Christian landscape you will find people adhering to these two beliefs.
Time To Spring Clean Our Souls
Paul emptied himself of his vain glory, so that the love of the Saviour would saturate his soul, his life, his all. Love was the motivating factor of how God captivated this broken vessel; “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, though wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Who Lives In You?
If you want to live for Christ, then you must allow Christ to live in you!
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20).
Is Christ living in you today and every day?