Paul, a bond-servant, set apart for the gospel, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. The well-known writer of 13 letters to believers across the Roman Empire; equating almost half the books in our New Testament. He was an incredible man of God; but why this man?
When we first read about Paul, he was Saul of Tarsus, a violent persecutor of the early Church; and he did so with zeal, believing himself to be righteous in the sight of God for opposing the ‘blasphemy’ of those who would claim that a man called Jesus of Nazareth was God. In his letter to the Romans Paul speaks of his fellow Jews in words that could also describe himself before he met Jesus, “they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” So what changed? How did Saul of Tarsus, a sinner, spiritually dead in his transgressions, become Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ? In Acts 9:16 we read that as he was approaching Damascus, “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” He met Jesus in a rather spectacular encounter which left him blind for 3 days. Then to a disciple named Ananias the Lord Himself speaks concerning Saul saying, “he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.”
Why choose Saul of Tarsus? Why the persecutor? Why choose any of us for that matter? For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul writes in chapter 1 verses 12-16, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
If Saul of Tarsus, the “violent aggressor” was shown mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief, is there anyone beyond God’s mercy? Paul immediately continues saying, “the grace of our Lord was more than abundant.” Not just abundant, more than abundant! The grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in limited supply, in fact, it is for this reason that He came down to earth, to save sinners; to offer grace and mercy to anyone and everyone who might accept it. In mercy, He paid the price we couldn’t afford, and the grace that He offers is His very own life, eternal life; Life that is more than abundant.
This Saul of Tarsus, a man spiritually dead, was offered the life of Jesus as an example for all those who would believe in Him for eternal life. So that in Saul, as the ‘foremost among sinners,’ “Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience,” and this perfect patience doesn’t change, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Therefore we don’t need to fear when we turn to Jesus, because He is patient, merciful, and abounding in grace. And when we accept His grace, then we, like Paul, can say, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17
By: Caleb Waters