From the Pulpit: The Apostle Paul: From persecutor to preacher to persecuted
When Saul held the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen, little did he know that he would soon be preaching the same gospel! He went from being a zealous opposer to the foremost preacher and writer of the New Testament. Paul later said that all that he had and had achieved were as ‘filthy rags’ compared to knowing Christ.
This man who had the most radical of conversions, completely dedicated his life to serve our risen Lord. His blessings are an example to us all on how the Lord rewards obedience. How much can He do in your life and in mine? Whether we obey or disobey, His will is done and we can be blessed or miss the blessing!
The word of God says in Phil. 4: 13: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Strengthen yourself with prayer before we begin.
Please read the following scriptures and we will begin this study: Acts 9: 1- 15 “…I will show him how many things he must suffer for my namesake.”
Paul the Persecutor
Imagine the stoning of Stephen then ask: Isn’t it ironic that the persecution began by Paul and his fellows resulted in the spreading of the gospel in many lands?
Please read: Acts 7: 58 – 8: 4 (Paul/Saul as persecutor.)
This is a most important principle: The Lord’s will is done regardless of the circumstances. Indeed, even today the gospel spreads in direct proportion to the persecution of Christians. Did you know that there were more martyrs in the last century than in any previous century!
Paul the Preacher
Imagine having the ‘Damascus Road experience’. Now Read: Acts. 9: 23-30 (Paul early preaching, rejection and escapes from Damascus and Jerusalem.) Here is another most important principle: When you suffer a radical conversion both your friends and your enemies may reject you!
Imagine, Paul’s former friends were mad enough to try and kill him and his new friends were still afraid of him! We may not face such extremes but after our own conversions we may face rejection because of our faith. In fact, the Bible guarantees you will!
Paul the Persecuted
Please read: 2 Cor. 11: 22-27
As you can see, the word of God outlines just how much Paul suffered for Jesus’ namesake. This life is often miserable or downright brutal. We may not be happy very often but we can be joyful! ‘Joy’ is the result of having a Christ-like attitude borne of a personal relationship with Jesus. Paul did not become overwhelmed by discouragement.
Please read: 2 Cor. 12: 7-9
How would describe how Paul handled being persecuted and afflicted. I believe he acted fearlessly, which is how should share our faith!
Here is a man whom God used to heal others of numerous afflictions yet he was not healed of the ‘thorn in his side’, despite asking God three times! The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Again, Paul did not become overwhelmed by discouragement.
Another most important principle: The Bible says in Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
The one who is in us is more powerful than the one who is in the world. Accept the promises of God, be obedient to His word and be joyful in all things! Here is where the ‘rubber meets the road’. If you are not sure that you know Jesus as your Lord and savior, yet you feel God’s conviction. Now is the time to settle that issue once and for all. Heaven or hell, which will it be?
Accept Jesus as your Lord and savior. Believe that he has the power to save you from your sins. Confess your sins and commit your life to Jesus!
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)