Posted by: gmscan | July 15, 2010

Reading Paul, continued

As I continued reading Paul’s letters, all of my questions about him were answered. I came to realize that Jesus chose Paul because of me. Paul’s mission is aimed like a bull’s eye at me, and all of the people like me who are new to the church (which at the time was almost everybody.)

Those he wrote to were also new to the church and, for the most part, were not grounded in the Jewish tradition or law. They didn’t know much about the Old Testament – about how to build a temple, or sacrifice lambs, or what part of a cow could be eaten. Nor did they know about the prophesies and how Jesus fulfilled them.

He cautions us against false teachers and opportunists who try to use the story of Jesus for their own purposes. Have we seen a few of these in our day? You betcha! In fact, they seem to be everywhere today and they are a big part of what had kept me away from the church for so long. I was sickened by child-molesting priests and by televangelists telling old ladies to send in all their money so the preacher could buy a mansion. And I was infuriated by the people who pick and choose Bible verses to advance a political agenda.

Paul knew all about these hucksters, and he is telling me, “Greg, don’t let them fool you. Don’t let them distract you from what Jesus is really saying, his true message.”

And, WOW! What a message it is! In my 60+ years, no one had ever told me I can’t work my way to salvation. There is nothing I can do to earn it because I am already saved. “Huh?” I thought, “you’ve got to be kidding. No one has ever given me anything. Everything I’ve got I had to work for.” *

No, it turns out Paul was not kidding at all. That is the whole point. That is why God squeezed himself into a human body and experienced all the things we experience – the limitations, the temptations, the doubts, the pain, and the death. But unlike all of us, He did it perfectly. He showed us what a sin-free life is, and how we can never match it, no matter how hard we try.

But because Jesus lived on this fallen earth as a human and was perfect, we don’t have to try. All we have to do is accept that He did it. Not only that, but that He was crucified for it. And even in dying He asked God to forgive his executioners.

Because He was able to do it, He was glorified. Even after death He walked on the earth in his human body and rose to Heaven in his human body. And all God wants us to do is accept that Jesus did all that to save us, too.

And THAT is why Jesus chose Paul – to explain that to me.

[* I’ve also come to realize that even in this life, everything I’ve “earned” is also a gift from God. I may have worked hard, but anything I’ve earned is only because God gave me the ability to do it. I didn’t do anything to deserve whatever gifts I have. That lesson is only a taste of what is to come.]

Next time: Salvation and Heaven

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Responses

  1. Hi Greg,

    I love your transparent thoughts and your sharing how the word is transforming your mind. (Romans 12:1-2).

    I thought I would recommend one of my favorite movies “Amazing Grace” to you as it is all about politics and a man following God’s calling on his heart dispite the opposition he receives. Good came to mankind and God was glorified because of his persistant and principled faith.

    Take care my friend…

    Tom


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