By Brooke Holt
“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. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 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.” (Galatians 1:14-17)
I fully appreciate Paul because he was 100 percent in for whatever he committed to doing. You know those people who are passionate about their causes, work, or service in this world. Paul studied the Hebrew Scriptures most diligently and with the very best teachers. Paul did not just oppose the growing church, but Paul passionately persecuted the church intending to annihilate the mission. And then, once Paul encountered the risen Christ, he was even more zealous in building the church he once sought to destroy.
Why? Because Paul has a deep and personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Not only did he see the risen Lord and hear his words, but Paul, chief among sinners, was the recipient of God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (See 1 Timothy 1:12-17). Where once Paul has been passionately working against the Lord even to the extent of murder, Paul was now much more zealous for the Gospel of grace. Paul knew the depths of his sin and the depths of God’s grace in his life.
It was that grace of God that transformed Paul. Having seen the risen Lord, Paul would comprehend his unworthiness to stand before the Lord of Lords. Upon writing this letter, Paul was cleansed of all his unrighteousness and then called to serve as an apostle of Christ. What a glorious conversion!
Grace didn’t require Paul to change; grace changed Paul. We often expect people to get their lives right before a holy God. Here, Paul reminds us there is another way, the only way to be made right before God. The grace of Jesus Christ invites the sinner into fellowship with a holy God as the blood of Christ washes a believer clean from every sin and defilement. Restoration comes through grace.
Paul was called by grace. You have been called by grace.
Are you marveling in this amazing grace of the Lord today and sharing that grace with others? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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