SAUL of Tarsus – what a guy! He would describe himself a ‘Master of Israel’. Saul of Tarsus – one well-learned in the Torah, the Scripture, the Oracles of God -Circumcised the eighth day – of the stock of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin. Concerning the righteousness which the Law of Moses demanded, blameless. A Hebrew of the Hebrews. Concerning the Law, a Pharisee. Wow.. what a GUY!!! Oh, what tremendous strength of character, what wonderful self-assurance. What magnetism was in Paul. This was a ‘must-be-seen-with’ type o’ guy. What self-confidence – what self-sufficiency – what self-reliance – what a MAN!!! This was a man after men's own heart!
But Saul of Tarsus met Jesus and had to be taught some of life’s toughest lessons. He learned that his own wisdom; knowledge; charisma and ability counted as nothing. He learned about faith: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1Cor.2:5. Paul came to the point of absolute surrender, full submission – a totally broken man.
Paul realised he was utterly blind; utterly ignorant; utterly helpless; utterly pathetic. Paul discovered his great learning and stunning personality had its roots in evil self, and that he, of all men, needed God’s tremendous, wonderful, amazing grace.
Paul was led of the Spirit to realise that he needed to be brought very low. He was led to understand that he had to be brought to the place of death to self. He had to come to grasp what God’s actual plan and dear desire for him was. Now that is grace… God’s tremendous, wonderful, amazing grace.
It was not when that dazzling light, blinded his eye on the road to Damascus, but through years of isolation and a life-journey of trial – he came to understand. Through Paul’s wilderness walk – he received an ever-growing conception of Christ. Through Paul’s rich, full, unusual, astonishing life – his vision of his Lord grew.
God unfolded to Paul the truth, that God desires that we all come to apprehend. And so at the end of his earthly life Paul cried out – that I may know Him. That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Phil.3:10. At the start of his journey, Paul knew what God’s good pleasure was. We read in Galatians 1 verse 6 that it was God’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in me” Gal.1:6 But at the end of his life it was as if he knew nothing of his Lord and King.
He had to come to an understanding that his Christ was immeasurable. He slowly grasped that his dear, sweet, precious Jesus was beyond conception, and Paul launched into eternity with the deepest desire of his heart expressed - That I may know Him. Phil.3:10
It is Paul’s comprehension of Christ that individually and collectively we should seek – an ever-growing understanding of Christ; a discovery of Christ; exploring of Christ. This was the thing that maintained Paul in his life and throughout his ministry.
Paul’s own, Jewish conception began on a temporal plane, with an earthly kingdom, but after 'it pleased God to reveal His Son in me' – Paul’s conception enlarged. All through his life was an ever-growing unveiling of what God was maturing in him.
It was not just earthly blessings and temporal power that Paul discovered. It was a cosmic redemption – not merely a delivery from Rome’s tyranny. Paul discovered that God truly has delivered us. God has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Col.1:13
And as his life advanced so his conception of his Lord developed and increased, until Saul of Tarsus, that master of Israel, that magnetic, self-sufficient guy… Saul of Tarsus.. one well-learned in the Torah, the Scripture, the Oracles of God: Saul of Tarsus.. that self-confident; self-sufficient man after men's own heart, became simply Paul. Paul.. a little man abandoned in absolute surrender to his Lord. Paul… a man fully submitted in total brokenness to his Christ – Paul a bond-slave of Jesus.
The work in Paul’s life is the work that the Lord seeks to do in each of us, but we have to willingly submit to His challenging examination of self. God has an eternal purpose in all of life’s trials and troubles – an unbroken, uninterrupted, unparalleled purpose from eternity to eternity - that in the ages to come God might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7 !! WHAT GRACE !!
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