Monday, October 24, 2011

Saul or Paul?

Let me give you all a new series of reading material which I think will be useful for soul-searching people out there. Here is a Bible Study Tools that I personally studied myself. I hope you can all learn what I have learned as well.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Phil 4: 13

When you have decided to follow God, was life more easier for you? Or was it more difficult?

What I can say is that when I decided to follow God, I have a better understanding of why I experience sufferings, how I should solve it, what I need to solve it and whom I should ask for help. And in my opinion, I believe that I may have a different understanding and different approach in solving my problems if I have not followed God. One thing is certain, when I was an unbeliever and when I experience difficulties in life, I always felt alone and I always felt like I am against the world. It was hard for me to find strength when people around me have their own problems to settle and it made me feel very low of self-esteem and I had self-pity.

Now, being a Christian made me feel confident knowing God is with me always. There maybe times that I tremble but once I realize God is with me and He gives me strength, it made me feel secure. There was this certain disciple of God that made an impact to Christians up to now. His life is a good example of how even a vilest offender can have a great purpose in God's work and his name is Paul.

Saul of Tarsus

Before Paul became God's disciple or when he was still called Saul, he was a determined persecutor and most Christians were afraid of him. He was Christian's public enemy no. 1. During those times Saul's determination gave him power to eradicate Christian churches but of course God did not allow that to happen to his children. This is a good illustration of how God loves us. Imagine your worst enemy turned into one of your greatest ally.

It is Saul who approved that Stephen be put to death (Acts 8: 1)
In Acts 9, he continued to pursue other Christians and asked the support of the high priests.
As we can see, power is in Saul's hand. He even have the authority to end life. 

Saul's Characteristics

Saul's character were persistent, wise and has authority which are all great characteristics of a leader. But let us see how Saul used those characteristics. (Acts 9: 1-2)
  • Saul was persistent on his goal to persecute Christians.
  • He was fearless in persecuting multitude of Christians.
  • He was wise to know whom to seek power in order to pursue his goal. He went to the high priest and ask their approval in pursuing the Christians. (Acts 9:1-2)
  • And he had the authority or power in making decisions in persecuting and ending life of Christians (e.g.  Stephen)
But God did not allow Saul's goal to continue and because God may have found Saul's character crucial to his work, he was made a chosen vessel (KJV), chosen instrument (NASV / NIV) .

We are Like Saul

We may not know it but we are like Saul, maybe not responsible for killing Christians but like Saul, we used to be God's enemies (refer to Rom 5: 10) and we also have characteristics like Saul had. Let's see how most of us use our characteristics.
  • We are persistent in pursuing our goal. We work hard everyday, some even work abroad just to support the family or buy their dream house, support the education of siblings or just working to bring food on the table.
  • We work fearlessly. Most overseas worker leave their families behind just to earn money to support them. For female overseas Filipino worker or OFW, most of them even knew the risk of being raped, abused or molested by their employers but they fearlessly accept the job. And with the current statistics, most broken families are from families with an OFW family member and leaving their family behind is a great risk already.
  • We were wise because we knew where we should go, what government body we should seek in order to validate our application and make sure that we can go properly to our new workplaces abroad.
  • Working abroad enabled us to come up with money to purchase what we desire which of course gave us purchasing capabilities more than we used to. This gave us authority and power to make decisions on what should or should not purchase. For parents, we have authority on where we should use the money that we have earned.

Being a New Creature

When Saul was converted, his best qualities were still with him but he became a new creature. And like Saul, when we accepted God we became a new creature like what it says in 2 Cor 5: 17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Saul became Paul and these were his new characteristics:
  • He was persistent in sharing and spreading the word of God. (Acts 9: 20-22)
  • He was fearless in speaking the word of God. (Acts 9: 28 - he was speaking out boldly in the name of God). He knew that his life is now on the line because before he used to be one of the persecutors.
  • He was wise to know whom to seek power. Before it was the high priest but now his strength comes from God. What did he say in Phil 4:13? His strength is from Christ.
  • He has an authority and power to spread the word and give life to those who do not yet believe God. It was God who chose him and gave him the authority (Acts 9:15)
Being a new creature, we begin to understand why things happen and learn to accept things easier and learning to draw strength from God.

In Which Authority Do I/We Share God's Words?

Authority is given unto all Christians (Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. - 1 Tim 4: 2) but with great responsibility. And since the world is against God we must reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine which means we will experience persecution and we should patiently-endure all of the persecutions that we'll be experiencing. It is not always pleasure serving God, it is also suffering for God's sake.

But when we suffer pain, do not immediately think that God is punishing you. It is just how God equips us because all things work together for good to all those who love God. We should thank God for everything.

If we think we are not capable to lead and share the word of God think again. We can do all things through Christ. We can be like Saul or our old self or we could be like Paul. And like Paul, we can be capable of great things through God's given strength.

We already have the characteristics, we just need new directions and guidance from God and channel those great characteristics that God gave us already. We can do it... through Christ.

Saul or Paul?

Will we continue to be like Saul or our old self? or we put on our new self - a new creature like when Paul was converted? A Paul who learned to draw his own strength from God.

So when we suffer pain, think what Paul said and let us draw our strength from God. We cam do it.


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