What made the Apostle Paul suddenly eager to bring the Gospel to all?
Well, God can see into the mind’s of men and women.
1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139
As evidence of this truth, God gave the power to know what people were thinking to Jesus on a number of occasions such as when he healed the man who was ‘sick of the palsy’. He then answered their ‘evil thoughts’ with a miracle showing he had the power from God to do both.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. Matthew 9
There we have of proof of what has been said. The men said nothing – just had an evil thoughts: Jesus read their thoughts and answered them. Then he did a miracle to show he had power from God to do these amazing things.
Now let us turn to the apostle Paul, initially called Saul. God, who had the power to read the minds of men and women, would know that Saul had a character suitable for enthusiastically preaching the gospel. As Paul said in later life,
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Acts 22
Many people believed in the promises in “the perfect the law of the fathers”, and had a zeal toward God. This was demonstrated by the crowds that came to John the Baptist, because,
15 … the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were ‘The Christ’, or not. Luke 3
If you read on in Luke 3 you will see that John told them that he was not ‘the Christ’, but that ‘Christ the Messiah’ would soon come. The trouble was that many did not believe that Jesus was ‘the Christ’, especially the religious leaders of the day.
But when …
1. … the resurrected Jesus, who had been murdered by the combined forces of the Jews and Romans, met Saul face to face on the road to Damascus,
3 … suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9
2. … Later one of Jesus’ followers called Ananias restored Paul’s sight by a miracle.
17 … and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts 9
3. And recovering from the shock of his experience, in the care of his new found Christian brothers, he was soon convinced that Jesus was the Christ – the Messiah and Son of God.
19 … he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. Acts 9
As the result of another important and valuable experience of Paul, he told the Galatians that to complete his preparation for preaching to the Gentiles he had a revelation of Jesus, who taught him the things of the Gospel of Kingdom of God.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1
Apparently, they met in the wilderness for a period of strengthening and preparation for the work God intended to do which would meet with much persecution. For he was to be …
15 … a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. Acts 9
Paul realised his life, like a number of other prophets and teachers was, wholly in their Heavenly Father’s hands.
… it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Galatians 1
He certainly had a very hard life and suffered from much hardship as he was provoked into revealing to his unjust critics.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11
If we ask ourselves, “Why did he do it?” We suggest, on good authority, it is undoubtedly for the same reason as Jesus suffered.
2 … Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12
He did it for the joy and beauty, the anticipation and satisfaction, of the promised things to come compared to what this world had to offer him, and all of like precious faith to him.
Paul, writing to the believers at Corinth compared a Christian’s life to an athlete’s, but with an important difference …
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9
All, not just one, can win the race to life if they compete according to the rules. And Paul was convinced that whatever sacrifice was involved in following Jesus paled into insignificance when compared to the glory to be revealed when Jesus returns to this Earth to establish God’s Kingdom.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8
What the world offers is worthless by comparison, in his opinion!.
8 … I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Philippians 3
That’s in the sense of relative valuation. Everything that men and women value in the world that is in the hands of men and women is but refuse, whilst the Kingdom of God is priceless and the man or woman appreciating its true value is prepared to give up everything for a place in it.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13
Paul goes on to tell us that receiving the commendation of Jesus on the day of judgement will only follow a responsible life of worthwhile work when he might well say,
17 … Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. Luke 19
The change of body that will be given to those who are accepted by Jesus to help him establish the Kingdom of God will be amazing. Paul contrasts it with the hopeless nature of the body that most men and women put their trust in which will always let them down.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 3 (NKJV)
The result will be wonderful.
Revelation 21 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
No wonder Paul and all true Christians put their trust In the promises we have from God in His Word in this Bible presentation.
We will take just one more piece of advice from Paul.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3
This was Paul’s aim in life and it should be ours also if we wish to receive the amazing reward a faithful life of belief in Jesus and obedience to his teaching will bring,
Followers of Jesus should never think they have ‘done enough’ (apprehended) to receive the reward. This is not decided until they meet the judge – the Lord Jesus Christ. The parable of the sheep and the goats – Matthew 25:31-46 – tells us the kind of words the faithful (the sheep) hope to hear’
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25
The scriptures witness, not only to the marvels of the future reward promised the faithful, but also to the lives of men and women like Paul who were prepared to suffer the loss of anything that competed against the honour of serving Jesus in the future. May we be like minded, prepared to put the failures of the past behind us, in our desire to press on towards the hope the kingdom.
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