Would you receive this man?
This man is attempting to be your spiritual leader. Here is his resume. He says your eternal destiny hinges on whether you believe , or disbelieve him. He claims to be Jewish, and to have your best interests at heart. The Old and New Testaments teach that the truth of a matter is established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1). If you heard of this man and then heard him speak, would you believe him or the witnesses who spoke against him?
He said his ministry was given to him by God. He had no Bible school teaching or training. He did not study beforehand to give his teaching or his message in his new direction of life. He had no notable authority who instructed him or was over him. Authorities and many other people did not receive him or his message. He seemed to be a person attempting to get people to follow his message and himself. No one else they knew was speaking the things he was declaring. Some of the statements he was declaring were outrageous. No one else had ever said such things, but yet he was persistent in speaking them. Listed below are 20 points of his life to consider in making your decision. They explain what is known about him, what many people have said about him, and even what he has said about himself. What decision would you make in allowing this man to be your spiritual leader? Would you receive him and his message, or reject him as your teacher because of the testimony of those who heard him and knew him?
What is Known About His Life?
1 – He boasts of himself and he asks the assembly to receive him as a fool.
2 – He speaks foolishly, and he does not always speak after the Lord.
3 – He boasts after the flesh, he is bold in his ways, and he speaks as a fool by his own confession.
4 – He labors in his ways among many; and has been whipped for his ways.
5 – Five times his brethren took the time to correct him by giving him 39 stripes. He received the penalty of a convicted felon.
6 – He has been close to death for teaching his doctrine among men.
7 – Three times the rod was used on him to help him see the error of his ways. Three times he suffered shipwreck, many thought it was a sure sign that God was not with him, or for him.
8 – He was in the sea for one night and one day, but he still did not change his ways. He continued to make trouble whereever he went.
9 – He has been in prison, suffered much weariness, painfulness, hunger, thirst, fasting, and was without clothes and very cold at times. He is weak and he also has problems with burning. Are not all of these more signs that God could not be with him?
10 – He glories even in his own problems. He tries to get others to follow him in his course. He resists authority, by his own admission. He tries to bring God into all his problems.
11 – What did others who had direct contact or heard of him think of him? Some plotted to kill him. Even his own people did not receive him.
12 – When he tried to join others of his own religion, they did not trust him and were afraid of him.
13 – Sometimes when this man spoke, his words caused people to blaspheme, when attempting to set him straight.
14 – Some looked upon him as a pagan god, but others stoned him for blasphemy.
15 – He had arguments with main-line teachers who would not accept his teaching. Some of those who were close to him had contentions with him. He was mocked by other people with whom he tried to make friends.
16 – While in their holy place he was accused of defiling it. Then some of those people sought to kill him.
17 – Some gave him a fair hearing and listened to him. When the hearers could stand no more, they said he is not fit to live. They then tore their clothes and threw dust into the air and some made a vow to kill him.
18 – When he was brought before a judge, he was accused of being a creator of dissension among those of his own religion. This happened everywhere he went. The judge was told that he is a ring leader of a religious sect. Besides the accusers, many other people agreed that these things were true.
19 – One who was a judge, judged these matters; and after hearing him, was afraid and sent him away.
20 – Many, in another country, whom he thought were his friends, turned against him. One close friend even left him because of his beliefs and teaching.
Who Is This Man?
It is evident that this man had few friends. Most thought his religion did nothing but stir up people’s anger wherever he went. He caused trouble in many places, and left people angry when he left. One could say he was a “pesky fellow”. He seems to think he could overcome authority with what he calls infallibility. Many authorities do not accept this doctrine of his. The question someone would have to ask is why would anyone go to such effort, just to endure all the pain and suffering and life threatening statements against him? Why could he not understand that the pain would stop when he quit making people angry? One authority, after listening to him, said, “You are beside yourself! Much learning has made you mad!”
The man described here is the Apostle Paul, writer of the New Testament Epistles. The love of Christ compelled him to lose all things that men hold dear in this life. Even while enduring all the pain and suffering, he was also being attacked with fiery darts of the devil (harassing spiritual attacks by demonic spirits, Ephesians 6:16) and the corrupting doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). He was also being attacked by the Judaizers who were attempting through the teaching the Law of Moses, to undermine the gospel of the Grace of God that he had taught to all the churches (Galatians 3:6-14). Paul had suffered the loss of everything, so he could walk after the Spirit of Christ and proclaim Him to all people without compromise. By God’s revelation, he understood that only in Christ is redemption received through truth (Christ), and the Apostle Paul determined he would follow only Him. Paul found out the cost of being a true disciple of Jesus. This cost for Paul is the same as it is for every disciple of Jesus who picks up their cross to follow Him. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
The hate mentioned here is nothing more than a person’s priorities. The God of the heavens and the earth must have first place in the person’s life or he will have no divine life from God at all. Jesus Christ is that God. Paul said: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7, 8).
God commissioned Paul as an ambassador of Jesus Christ to all men, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receiveforgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me (through Jesus Christ)” (Acts 26:18).
Paul, by dropping all religion and following only a life of truth in Christ, could proclaim this truth to all people. He could then say, “I am innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26). He had made the gospel of Christ known wherever he went and gave out the truth of the revelation of God. He also explained what the true pathway of a Christian life is, in the Epistles, written in the New Testament so all people could become saved, and become children of God.
“Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness; but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).
Why would Paul be willing to suffer all these things? What would cause him to risk everything in his life? The answer is because of the divine appointment he received when he heard God from heaven speaking to him. It was the voice of Jesus Christ!
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
When Jesus Christ came into Israel, He fulfilled the ancient prophesies of the Messiah who was to come. He was promised to come to Israel, as recorded in the Law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. He was received by many people and did many miracles, signs and wonders among them. However, the Jewish religious leaders in Israel refused to receive Jesus or His teachings, and eventually had him crucified. After Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights, he arose from among the dead, alive forevermore. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Revelation 1:18). This was prophesied in the Old Testament. A prophetic description of Jesus in His crucifixion was written in detail 1000 years before it happened (Psalms 22:1-21).
Jesus prophesied to His disciples of what was going to happen to Him in the near future, that He would be killed and that His body was going to be in the grave three days and three nights. Then He would rise again (Luke 18:31-33). He used the prophet Jonah’s experience as prophecy of what was going to be fulfilled in Himself (Jonah 1:12-17; 2:1-10 and Matthew 12:40). The resurrection of Jesus is prophetically given in several prophecies in the foreknowledge of His resurrection, as spoken to in Psalms 16:5-11; 71:20, and the fulfillment in Matthew 28:1-20 and Acts 2:25-36. The evil forces (Ephesians 6:12) went to war to stop the resurrection of Jesus but did not prevail, as shown in Psalms 18:4-19.
After His resurrection, Jesus spent many days with His disciples, and then He told them He was going back to His Father in heaven. He assured them that when He left, He would send the Holy Spirit from heaven to live inside them (John 14:17), to teach and guide them into all truth (John 16:13- 15).
Jesus Christ a Life-Giving Spirit
When Elisha the prophet had died, and his bones were in the tomb, another dead man was put in the tomb on top of Elisha’s bones. When the dead man’s body touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man became alive again. The life-giving Spirit of God had not yet left Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21).
Scripture tells us that all of mankind are dead in trespasses and sins (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1). Anyone who touches the once dead, but now resurrected Christ, by having faith in Him through His Word, will no longer be a dead person (John 3:16). That person will then become a dead person with a new resurrected life, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into that person to create a new life within him, an eternal resurrected life (John 11:25-26; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:27). The Christian can say, “Whereas I was dead, now I live by the power of the resurrected Christ who overcame death forever” (Revelation 1:18). This life is a life in communion with God forever (John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 1:9)). Paul spoke of the born-again life, how he put to death his old nature to live in the new resurrected life in Christ.
His words are recorded here:
“I have been crucified with Christ; 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 gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Saul the Pharisee and His Conversion
Saul, who later was called Paul, was a first century Jew who had applied his life to the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses consists of 613 laws, as stated in the Old Testament, Genesis through Deuteronomy. It must be acknowledged that every inspired word that God spoke is His law, as stated in Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4. Of all the sects of Judaism, the Pharisees were among the most strict. Saul, a Pharisee, was born in Tarsus of Cilicia. He was taught by a well-known teacher, Gamaliel, who was zealous for the Law of Moses. Saul also became zealous for the Law of Moses, but most zealous toward God (Acts 22:3).
The leaders of Judaism had Jesus Christ crucified because He was not following their religion. The Jewish leaders were infuriated with Jesus. They were now going after all people in Jerusalem who believed in Jesus Christ or were following Him. At this time Saul was given authority from the Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders in Jerusalem) to go to Damascus in Syria and put Christians there in chains and take them to Jerusalem. Once in Jerusalem they were to be killed, or be persecuted and put into prison (Acts 22:5). On his way to Damascus, he suddenly saw a bright light shine down on him. He wrote the following of his experience.
His words are recorded in Acts 9:3-6: “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. Upon hearing a voice, I fell to the ground. The voice said to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” So I answered,, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said to me, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, “Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.”
When Jesus spoke to Saul from heaven, Saul was an enemy of Christians. But, at this point, his life changed completely. He became a total and complete follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus was going to make him His chosen vessel to go to the Jews and the Gentile world to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was God’s call to all people, to come into the kingdom of God. Paul, in obeying Jesus, would suffer much for the name of Jesus (Acts 9:15- 16). Soon after this, Saul became known as Paul (Acts 13:9).
Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ
Because Paul had been known as one who killed and persecuted Christians, he had to explain his new life in Christ to the Christians who were afraid of him, so he wrote to the Galatian assemblies, to let it be known to everyone: “You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I had advanced in Judaism beyond many of my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors” (Galatians 1:13-14).
The traditions Paul is speaking of is the Law of Moses (Philippians 3:1-9). Paul then explains God’s calling of himself. “But it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” (Galatians 1:15-16). When Jesus spoke to him, Paul received the revelation of Christ.
God then gave Paul apostleship in the ministry of Christ , which is revealed to all Christians. That is, they that are now dead to the Law of Moses are alive unto Christ, as shown in Romans 7:1-4. In this Scripture, the first husband, who died, was the Law of Moses. The second husband is Jesus Christ. From this time forward Paul went to the Gentile nations and made the gospel of Jesus known to all men that he encountered. He understood the suffering he went through in preaching the gospel from those who did not receive it, but it was not a reason for him to stop giving out the knowledge of Christ. “For there is no other name where by a person must (can) be saved” (Acts 4:12).
It was at this time that Paul tells of a man caught up into the third heaven into paradise (2 Corinthians 12:3-5). Many believe Paul was that man. He heard things he could not utter. This revelation of God was not second-hand information to him, and the knowledge of God through revelations, such as this one, was the power of the Holy Spirit that was working in him, and through him. It was Christ in him (Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:27) that enabled him to perform the will of God. Paul, by faith, produced fruit unto God, by the Spirit, touching people all over the world for the last 2,000 years with the knowledge of Christ. This he did by the Holy Spirit working in him, without human clergy (the Christian’s High Priest is in heaven), hierarchy (the Christian’s ruler-ship over him is in heaven), or headquarters (his headquarters are in heaven, where Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1-2). Paul was a brother among the Lord’s brethren (all Christians), a faithful servant of the Lord, with only one Master, Christ Jesus (Matthew 23:8-11).
God has said: “… For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30). Paul’s honor in obeying the Lord was complete and without compromise.
The Church is Born
On the day of Pentecost (approximately 33 A.D.) when Christ ascended, He filled the disciples of Jesus with his Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). When this happened, the Church of God was born into existence. For all who received the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) were baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, which is the church (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The Church consisted of all who believed God in following the Messiah, Jesus. It was the year of God’s eternal Jubilee (Redemption) (Leviticus 25:8- 24). The Church was called “The Way”. Those who were in Jesus had believed the gospel, which is that Jesus died for our sins, was in the grave three days and three nights, and then rose again from among the dead, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Way grew and multiplied because of the many people who believed and received Jesus Christ. He was the very Word of God in human form (John 1:1,14). They eventually became known as Christ ones, or Christians.
The Christians did not pursue the Law of Moses (613 commandments) which God had given to Israel. They believed the gospel and followed the voice of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and they followed the Scriptures, which the Holy Spirit opened up to them. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). They became known as those people who turned the world upside down, by following Jesus Christ (Acts 17:6). In the beginning they were all Jews who followed the Law of Moses. But with revelation and understanding in following the voice of Jesus, they no longer followed the Law of Moses. Every Christian had become a New Creation of God, the Church, by the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Church was a New Creation. It was now the temple of God on earth (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 2:19-22).
Assemblies of The Way (The Church)
The Apostle Paul had been arrested and was speaking before the Governor, Felix, in Caesarea. He had been arrested for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 21:27-40; 22:1-29).
Paul stated: “But this I confess to you, that according to The Way, which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14).
After Pentecost, assemblies of believers gathered only to the name of the Lord Jesus. These believers and the assemblies were called The Way, just as they are today in some places and countries.
These assemblies came together on the foundation of Jesus Christ crucified, Who died, was in the grave, and rose from among the dead. They gathered unto the Lord Jesus, plus nothing else added. The Doctrine of Christ was their truth to follow (2 John 9). The Gentile assemblies had little background knowledge of the God of Israel. Letters of God’s revelation, written to assemblies by the apostles of Jesus, were in the form of teaching the revelation of Jesus Christ. They became known as the Apostles’ Doctrine (Doctrine of Christ). These assembles spread throughout the known world, where the Holy Spirit had touched untold numbers of Gentiles to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
One could truthfully say that wherever people are, there are problems and sin. However, where the assemblies of The Way followed the Apostles’ Doctrine, the correction unto true doctrine prevailed. The Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to write teachings and corrective letters to many assemblies, which copies were made and passed on to other assemblies. We have these today in the New Testament Epistles. The truths in these letters are the bulwark of Christian truth. This is true of the other apostles’ letters as well.
Paul wrote to the assembly in Thessalonica. These letters of the apostles are not the opinions of men, but God’s word:
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing because, when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
To The Jews – To the Gentiles – To the Church
What did the Apostle Paul proclaim and teach to make him so unpopular with the majority of the people?
Jesus said, “And this condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Jesus said “…they hated Me without a cause” (John 15:25).
1. To the Jews: He proclaimed the same as Peter did at Pentecost. Seven distinct truths were proclaimed by Paul to the Jews in the synagogues throughout the Roman Empire. They are as follows: Peter’s message to the Jews at Pentecost:
- Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you Jews by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him (Acts 2:22).
- Jesus was given up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; you (Jews) have taken Him by the hand of lawless men (Acts 2:23).
- You have taken Jesus and crucified Him putting Him to death (Acts 2:23).
- God raised Him up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by death (Acts 2:24).
- Therefore Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33).
- He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, and He poured out the Holy Spirit on the day of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (Acts 2:33).
- Therefore let all the house of Israel know for sure, God has made this Jesus whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
These words, spoken to the Jews, brought fury against Paul wherever he traveled. However, the word of the Lord was made known to the Jews and Gentiles wherever he traveled. Their reaction is seen in these verses in the Bible (Acts 9:20-24; 13:6-8; 13:44-45; 50; l4:2-4, 19; 15:1; 16:16-24; 17:1-6; 17:10-13; 18:4-6, 12-17; Acts 21:27-34; 22:22-23; 23:12-14; 25:7-8; 25:10-12, 24-25; and Acts chapter 26).
2. To the Gentiles: The Prophet Isaiah (767 B.C.) prophesied that the Gentiles would see a great light.
“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:1-2).
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes…” (Isaiah 42:6-7).
“Indeed He says, it is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
“The Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:3). “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory…” (Isaiah 62:2).
“…And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles” (Isaiah 66:19).
The Apostle Paul was sent by God to the Gentiles to bring the Light of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 9:5; 22:21; 23:11; 26:17; 28:28; Galatians 2:2, 7, 9). Paul did not resist God’s call to go to the Gentiles and bring them the light of God, Jesus Christ, and He was received by many Gentiles.
However, there were many Gentiles as well as Jews,who saw this light, as an attack upon their religion and answered Paul with violence, which can be seen in these verses: Acts 13:6-12, 48-52; 14:1- 7, 19-20; Acts 16:16-24; 17:22-32; 19:23-41; 20:1- 36.
Before Paul left Ephesus, he told the Ephesian assembly of the many trials and hardships he suffered from the Jews who had stirred up the Gentiles against him. Paul proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ of God and Savior of all men who believe with repentance toward God (Acts 20:17-27). Paul was God’s apostle to turn the Gentile world upside down, to repentance and to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew the cost, “…The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me” (Acts 20:23). The reward he received from this world, for bringing the light of the kingdom of God to all men wherever he went, is said to be the same as his Master who was murdered on the cross. Many historians believe he was tried, and convicted for making the kingdom of God known to all men, and possibly beheaded him (believing he was the creator of dissension).
3. To the Church (The Way): When the Holy Spirit worked through the Apostle Paul, he had founded assemblies in the Gentile nations who believed God through the gospel of Christ Jesus, and assemblies of believers came together unto Jesus. To those assemblies Paul gave the revelation he had received from the Spirit of God (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7; Galatians 1:11-12, 2:2; Ephesians 3:3). These instructions and commandments of Jesus (Apostles’ Doctrine) to the Church are found in the New Testament epistles. Paul went to most of the Gentile world within the Roman Empire. The gospel was taught and received in these countries. They would be the foundational assemblies the Holy Spirit used for gospel outreach to unreached countries at a future time.
However, in these assemblies, there were many problems with the devil using men to reject what the Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to proclaim in the gospel of Christ. Therefore, He became a figure for these evil people to attack and undermine the gospel. He speaks of these people in many of the epistles. In fact, Paul was under attack everywhere. Most notable of the rejection of Paul is when he was arrested.
He wrote to Timothy that all of the assemblies in Asia (Turkey today) had turned against him (2 Timothy 1:15). When he most needed support, it appears that the assemblies turned away. The reason may be that the Roman government was arresting Christians. In any event, he found himself rejected. But Paul wrote to the Philippi assembly of the benefit to the church for the things he had suffered. “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
Paul was clearly like his master, Jesus Christ. Jesus was rejected by the bulk of men, but was completely in favor with God (Matthew 3:16-17), for God sent Jesus to do exactly what he fulfilled. Paul In completing the race, could say:
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give to me on that day and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Jesus said to those who followed Him alone: “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27).
Paul Teaches the Normal Life of Faith
Paul’s words to all who would follow the Lord Jesus explained the normal life of faith. These words were spoken to King Agrippa of whom he was being judged:
“Then (king) Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” “And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and all together such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:28-29).
To the Christian
Because Paul kept the faith, according to the truth in Christ, he could say “I am innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26). Paul had not wandered from, or compromised the revelation of Christ shown to him. He kept the faith above everything else, and above every person. This revelation of truth in Christ God intends to be followed by every Christian so we may have boldness (1 John 4:17) when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Christian’s sins were judged and paid for at the cross of Calvary in 33 A.D. The judgment seat of Christ is for the Christian’s works while living as a Christian on earth ( 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
To the Unbelieving
And for those who did not receive Christ, Paul did his upmost to bring the knowledge of Christ to everyone so they could be saved from the eternal judgment of God. This judgment is for all unbelievers, unsaved people, whose sins are still on them (Revelation 20:11-15).
The Cost to be a Disciple
Jesus made it clear when he said: “If any man comes to me and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” ( Luke 14:26).
“Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
The Riches of God
“There is He that makes himself poor, and hath great wealth” (Proverbs 13:7).
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that for your sakes He being rich became poor, in order that you by His poverty might be enriched “ (2 Corinthians 8:9).
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
Paul was led by the Spirit. The Spirit did not lead him to be: a church member, a clergyman on a salary, one of the hierarchy of a sectarian church, a worship leader, one who plays an instrument in a church band, a choir member, a leader of a men’s group, or a guest speaker at a men’s retreat. Nor was he led to be a money raiser for a church building committee.
He knew human religion does not bring life in the Spirit.
Paul was led to build the true church, the body of Christ. He was led by the Spirit to go out to the sheaves (unbelieving people) and become one with them to make Christ known and win them to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Paul knew the Holy Spirit is the only One who leads, and opens the eyes of the heart of people, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Paul was fully aware that human religion quenches the Holy Spirit from working. In fact, most of the oppression he suffered was from human religion.
The Holy Spirit led Paul to pen these words to all believers, “to imitate him (Paul), just as he also copied Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Again the Spirit speaks through Paul, “Therefore I urge you, imitate Me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). to follow the inspired instructions given by Paul to the Corinthian assembly which included all the churches for the entire church age (1 Corinthians 1:2).
Paul did not follow the religion of man or human opinion. He went out to the sheaves, and the Spirit changed the planet through him and through the other apostles who did the same. What all the apostles spoke was not their opinion, but the word of God, including what Paul spoke (Thessalonians 2:13). Paul spoke these words “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). To believe God, according to the revelation of Christ in Scripture, is the normal Christian life.
What is the normal standard for a Christian life? Jesus Christ is the acceptable life before God. He obeyed every word His Father gave Him (John 8:29). The acceptable life of a Christian to God is the same, believing every word of God (Matthew 4:4) through the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), not adding to, or leaving out, parts of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 22:18).
Paul outlined and compared the Christian’s reward in suffering for Christ as a Christian: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). It seems obvious that the Apostle Paul did not believe he was paying too high a price to be a Christian, following Christ alone. He considered His life to be the normal Christian life for any Christian walking in faith to the voice of Jesus. This does not mean that others would or should have the same gift as he had, but that his faith was in every word of God, the normal Christian life.
The Christian is living in this world which is under the kingdom of darkness. Satan is the ruler of darkness over this world (John 14:30; 1 John 5:19). The Christian has the power of Christ in him (1 John 4:4). That power is Jesus Christ, the only light in the world and the light of life itself (John 8:12). This gives the Christian all he needs to overcome Satan and his kingdom of darkness. “… for whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) can conquer all things that challenge him. In Christ Jesus he can overcome all things (1 John 5:4-5), for all things are subject to the Lord of glory.
What can a person do? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! What does a person believe? Paul declares the gospel, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
To see the accusations against the Apostle Paul read 2 Corinthians 11:5-11.
Violence began on the earth
“Then men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
God’s promised future
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
The Christian’s heart
“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
Fulfilling the purpose of God
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
What God has given to the Christian
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours” (1 Corinthians 3:21).
The Christian’ path to grow into the image of Christ Jesus
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
God has given to His own the wealth of His kingdom
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, That though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).