THE STORY chapter # 29
(My home church is participating in the study of THE STORY – The Bible As One Continuing Story Of God And His People. Foreword by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. Each week, my Thursday post focuses on our current study chapter.)
Paul the apostle, also known as Saul of Tarsus, vehemently hated Christians and set about destroying and persecuting them. His initial hostility toward Christians caused them to spread out and flee, thus, giving them the opportunity to share the gospel elsewhere. This action of Christians moving about is just what Jesus instructs us to do.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15
Paul actually witnessed Acts 7:58-60, and approved of Acts 8:1, the stoning death of Stephen, “a man full of God’s grace and power.” Stephen was the first to give up his life in this world, for a heavenly life in Christ. But Paul’s initial despise of Christians turned into a fervent, dedicated life to serve God; preaching the Gospel throughout the known world.
On a road to Damascus, where Paul had permission from the high priest to come and search out Jesus followers to take prisoner, Jesus appeared to Paul.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:7-8.
For three days, Paul “was blind and did not eat or drink anything.” Then God sent a disciple named Ananias, to go to the place where Paul was staying and place hands on Paul that he may be filled with the Holy Spirit. After this happened, Paul was then baptized. He ate, gained back his strength and at once went out to preach the Good News; that forgiveness of sins now come through faith in Jesus Christ, a gift of God’s grace! Paul was transformed from persecutor to preacher!
His hateful time of walking through life as Saul of Tarsus was over, as he now ran devoted into the arms of Jesus Christ. He became Paul the apostle. With all the zest and zeal he once used against Christians, he now used it to share, spread and acknowledge who Jesus is.
Paul traveled to Seleucia, Salamis, Paphos, Perga, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Troas, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, the region of Galatia and Phrygia, and Macedonia, to name a few. Whenever he could, he entered synagogues to preach the Way, or went to peoples homes to share the Message. He spoke to Jews and to Gentiles, teaching of salvation – the gift of Jesus Christ.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1:21-24
THE STORY foreword by Max Lucado & Randy Frazee