Paul was a man with a mission, even before he became a believer in Christ. I find it interesting that when God changes a life He keeps the original DNA and refocuses our purpose. Since God wired us in a certain way, if you were a great leader of others in your old life, God can use that quality to make you a great leader with a renewed purpose in your new life. If you were generous in your old life, God can use that strength for His kingdom in your new life. God used Paul’s natural giftedness and retooled him for kingdom purposes. Let’s look at what Paul did after coming to Christ.
After his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul is told to go to see a man named Ananias (Acts 9:10, 17, 18). Paul’s eyes were opened, literally and figuratively. In Galatians 1:14-18, he mentions that he did not go up to Jerusalem or consult with any of the apostles, but went down to Arabia after his conversion. He needed to get to know the One who seemed to know him so well. Unlike us, Paul’s need was not discipleship from other believers and to know the Scriptures, he needed to get to know the author of the Scriptures. He runs off to the Arabia, likely to the mountain of God, Sinai, where God met with Moses and gave the Law to His people. All he had ever known in Scripture needed to be interpreted in light of Christ.
The result was that Paul grew more and more powerful and the Jews were astonished with his teaching, proving that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah (Acts 9:22).
- The word “powerful” is the same word used to describe Samson in Hebrews 11:34. I remember reading from an ancient history called, The Acts of Paul and Thecla, 1:7 “At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a low stature, bald (or shaved) on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel.” A balding, bowlegged man with a boxer’s nose was not much to look at, but he had the power of God within him.
- Paul also spent time proving to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. The word “proved” means to come together, or bring together, or knit together. He literally knit together the old and the new; that Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of the promise is found only in Jesus. The whole of Scripture speaks of Christ, not just various parts of it. Luke 24:27 tell us that Jesus explained to the two on the Emmaus Road what was said in all the Scripture concerning himself. I like that, ALL the Scripture, not just a few isolated passages. Unlike the Greeks, the Jews knew Scripture. They just had not recognized the One they were waiting for.
What was the result of Paul’s ministry?
- At first, the Jews sought to kill him (Acts 9:23, 24) even the Greek speaking Jews (Acts 9:29).
- When he came to Jerusalem all the disciples were afraid of him (Acts 9:26). They were understandably cautious of Paul, knowing his past. Perhaps they were being punked and it was all a trick. But there was one guy, a man named Barnabas (the son of encouragement) who took Paul and brought him to the apostles (Acts 9:27). I can imagine the grumbling that must have taken place when Barnabas brought this despicable person into the room. I like this guy because he was willing to give people a chance even when no one else would.
Application: There is nothing greater than the men of God willing to become vulnerable in obedience to Christ. What can we learn today?
- How about standing up for the truth when those around you fall?
- Are you willing to become vulnerable enough to develop relationships with those considered to be on the outside?
- Can you spend time getting to know God in such a way that your confidence in the truth soars to a new level?
- Are you willing to take a risk, becoming like Barnabas to encourage other people, even if it will cost you something?
- None of us may be very impressive to the world, but are you willing to allow God to use you for His kingdom in ways that you could never have imagined? This is not just for pastors and missionary types, God can use each of us right where we are. There are people around each of us that only we can impact.
Get to know the author of Scripture and not just a head full of biblical knowledge. Allow God to change your focus and be used for kingdom work in ways you never thought possible. It takes only a step in the right direction and you begin the journey of a lifetime.