Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Encountering Jesus 3/30/2013

Grace and mercy be to you today from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


In the name of Jesus, we read our text of meditation for today.


Apostle Paul's Previous Life
Galatians 1:11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.1
12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.
14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Paul's Call to Repentance by His Grace
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,
16 was pleased to reveal his Son to1 me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;2
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.
19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.
20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)
21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.

People's Response to Paul's Conversion
22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
23 They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
24 And they glorified God because of me.truth.

As we continue in our series in Galations, in which Paul is addressing false teachers who are trying to trick Christ followers into adding to that which Christ has done through His death and resurrection, Paul is warning them of this with extreme language as he begins this letter. He now gives his "credentials."

As we can well imagine, the first thing that those who would be resisting Paul entering into this discussion with the false teachers would be saying would be: "Who do you think you are?" Especially in light of what his former life was.

Much of his early life is recorded in the book of Acts for us. The first part concerns Stephen preaching to the Jewish leaders and describes their resistance to the true Gospel of Christ. Please note the Apostle Paul's participation in this event. who is still referred to as Saul. (His name eventually was changed to Paul)

Saul's first appearance in the Scripture is at the martyrdom of Stephen, who when defending the true Gospel preached a sermon which described the history of God's work of redemption in the Old Testament to the current day. Our references are from Acts 7:51-8:4 and Acts 9:1-23. Paul also gives his testimony in Acts 22 and 26, the first one before an angry mob and the second before King Agrippa.

ESV Acts 9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,


Wow, what a turnaround. Whereas Saul was for the killing of the true messenger of God, things had completely reversed. Now he was being hunted to be killed by the very ones that he had been working with. All who heard Saul preach, like Ananias, and like any of us had their doubts about the turn around of Saul, from a persecutor of the Christians, and to a preacher of the Gospel? How can we believe that, they said? Was he faking it? No, he was not.

Paul became a preacher of repentance, that people might see their sin so that they will be able to receive the forgiveness of sins. For without a conviction of one's sinfulness, grace will not be received. In the following account we see that he was living under guilt of conscience.....For Christ in that moment told the soon to be Apostle that as he was persecuting any of his followers, he was persecuting Christ Himself.

13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,1 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

What happened to Saul when Jesus met Him on the road to Damascus?

1. He was stopped in his tracks so to speak, because the Lord is full of grace and mercy, and He had need of him to be a vessel for Him.

2. He heard the Lord tell him that his persecution of the church was persecution against Christ Himself.

3. He heard the Lord speak to him of his guilt for what his life was now.

4. He was led away physically blinded to the home of Ananias so that through Ananias he would regain his sight.

5. He regained his sight, was baptized, ate and after a few days with the disciples there, began to preach Christ the Son of God.

All this because of the Gospel of Christ, which is given to us by the grace and mercy of God in Christ. Paul received it by faith, for he knew in whom he believed and was persuaded that He was able to keep that which he had committed unto Him against that day. God is gracious and merciful through Christ Jesus, He has reconnected Himself with the world through Him and He calls upon us today to be reconciled to Him through repentance and faith.

Years ago there was a small notice in the Chicago paper: "Switchman found dead on tracks."

The article explained the rest of the details. The switchman whose job was to electrically move the track from one side to the other to save the two trains from colliding had evidentally tried to switch the track the usual way, but the electrical part had malfunctioned. As he saw the two trains approaching, he realized that unless he did something quickly they would have a massive headon collision. So he did what needed to be done, he layed his body across the track in the front of the uncoming train, hoping that the current would go through his body and cause the track to switch to the other side. Unbeknownst to the people on the two trains which passed in their normal and safe manner, the wheels of the trains crushed the sacrificial offering of the switchman which was headlined the next day with the mere words, "Switchman found dead on tracks." Instead of "Switchman saves two trains and their passengers," it merely said "Switchman found dead on tracks."

Christ was the Switchman for us, for He saved us from death in order to give us life, eternal life. We have received grace and mercy, and by faith we have eternal life, for He paid a debt He did not owe. Let us close by thinking on the words of the song we sang earlier today....

He paid a debt He did not owe

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay;
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And, now, I sing a brand new song,
“Amazing Grace.”
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

He paid that debt at Calvary.
He cleansed my soul and set me free.
I'm glad that Jesus did all my sins erase.
I, now, can sing a brand new song,
“Amazing Grace.”
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

One day He's coming back for me
To live with Him eternally.
Won't it be glory to see Him on that day!
I, then, will sing a brand new song,
“Amazing Grace.”
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.
Yes, Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

Author: Ellis J. Crum

Have we received this gift through repentance and faith?

Grace and mercy to all this day through Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala













Posted on 30 Jun 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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