Monday, September 22, 2014

Saul Versus Paul

Dedicated to God, heart, soul, mind and body; Saul was deeply entrenched in the teachings of Master Teacher, Gamaliel. Thoroughly educated in the Hebrew faith of his heritage, pleasing God became Saul’s pearl of great price

His choleric temperament drove him to drink deeply, when others merely sipped from life‘s cup. Competitors quickly fell short of Saul’s driving passion to be a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” In quenching that thirst, he launched his crusade in defense of the Almighty. The self-sufficient, impetuously hot-tempered law student threw down the gauntlet defending Jewish monotheism against the heretics of this prophet called Jesus.

En route to Damascus, Saul made a life-changing discovery: life did not center in his values and beliefs. Suddenly, Jesus took on a whole new dimension, as the fire-breathing exponent of Jewish Legalism recognized a new perspective!

No longer able to look upon humanity “according to the flesh”, Saul discovered “God was in Christ, reconciling us to Himself” and he became a new man. , Paul now found himself an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16; Romans 1:16-18).  

In the cross of Christ,
Saul of Tarsus experienced resurrection and empowerment
to live a new life.

“And I, “said Jesus, “if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32 NASV).  Death came to Jesus, “that men … should cease to live for themselves,” and “live for him who for their sake died and was raised to life” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NEB).

Saul of Tarsus, a Hellenist Jew with a Pharisee’s pedigree as long as his arm, experienced a metamorphosis in meeting Jesus. That encounter transformed the arrogant Pharisee into a humble follower of Jesus, the Christ, and Saul, the terrorist from Tarsus, became Paul, the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.             

The message of the cross empowered the transformed Saul
to disengage from racism, culturalism, and creedalism and
be metamorphosed into Paul, the zealous Christian Apostle.

Through the cross, God empowered Jesus to overcome sin and death through the resurrection and enable Christ‘s disciples to live like Christ, or as “little Christ’s.

Paul consequently confessed, “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.” Thus, he reasoned, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, NASV).                    

Through the cross
Saul found power to become Paul,
a man with a vision of hope for human potential.

Saul went into his spiritual cocoon a sinful worm; Paul came out a grace-full butterfly, enjoying
G od’s
R ichest
A t
C hrist‘s
E xpense.
From then on, Paul regarded no person from a worldly point of view; rather, he saw the cross of Christ as a divine invitation given to all:

               Beneath the cross of Jesus [I] gladly take my stand  . . .
               The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
               And from my smitten heart with tears, Two wonders I confess--
               The wonders of His glorious love And my unworthiness.
--Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1872

The church, concluded Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is “our hope for the present and the future.” He followed in the wake of our Ancient Fathers who said, “God [is] our Father, the Church our Mother, Jesus Christ our Lord, [and] that is our Faith.  Amen.”
               1 Mary Bosanquet, The Life And Death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  (New York:  Harper & Row, Publishers, 1968), p. 65.

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