Acts 26:15 -18 ” ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet.  I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you  from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am sending you to them  to open their eyes  and turn them from darkness to light,  and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins  and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “

     When God put His call on Paul we can clearly see what Jesus wanted of him.  Paul was to be a servant and a witness to his personal experience with Jesus. Paul practised open disclosure about his past.  He openly told others that he was a first class sinner; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)  There was no hiding of who and what he was in Paul’s ministry.  There was no self righteous pretence but rather an open heart wrenching declaration of his own spiritual need; “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

     Paul had a tough time in his ministry; “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; 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; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Cor 11:25-27)  God opened the door for Paul and it was a rough ride.  But through it all God was faithful.  In one of Paul’s tough times he declared; “. . . the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:17)

     The Gospel that Paul preached, the Gospel that got Paul beat up and shipwrecked was straightforward; “For Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:17,18)  No great fanfare or brilliant theology just the plain truth; “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:1,2)

     Paul wasn’t a professional and he didn’t preach like one;  “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power . . . ” (1 Cor 2:3,4)  Why? What was Paul’s intent in preaching plainly and humbly?  The next verse tells us; “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  What is this power of God?  “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  (Romans 6:4,5,6)

     This power of God makes a new man out of a ‘dead man walking’.  This power of God transforms an individual from the inside outwards until all witness the change.  Paul exhorts us; “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6,7)  Paul warns us to watch out for; ” . . . empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

     This is the Gospel and we like Paul are called by Jesus to share it.  Don’t expect the world to open its arms and embrace His Word or you.   The world likes its gospel complicated, nuanced and accommodating.  One website advises; “We must present the Gospel differently in a postmodern situation. People may not initially be interested in our version of truth, especially if it is presented dogmatically and without humor. However, they may well be interested in solutions which meet the problems they face in life. An apologetic approach can be valuable in our postmodern culture.”

     No one will come awake with our version of the truth.  No one will be set free from the power of Satan with our version of the truth.   No eyes will be opened by our version of the truth.  It’s not our version of the truth that counts.  Rather it is His truth that saves!  Paul was right and righteous when he declared; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)  Share His message by living it; loving God first, loving your neighbour as yourself, and un-apologetically being a witness to His transforming power in your life.

    Praise the Lord!

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