Wednesday, August 31, 2016

“The Offense of the Gospel"

"The Offense of the Gospel"

    During his earthly Christian lifetime, the Apostle Paul did not enjoy the respect his name has inspired throughout most of church history.

    "Am I not an apostle? am I not free?  Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?  Are not ye my work in the Lord?  If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord" (I Corinthians 9:1-2).

    Many believers questioned Paul's spiritual authenticity, first because he persecuted the church before he became a born again Christian.  However, his message provided just as much grist for the mill of criticism as through Paul, God greatly amplified the implications of His grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:25-26).  The legalizers of Paul's day hated his message because it struck at the very core of human pride and self affirmation.  Moreover, it directed all glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain, and to "the Name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9).  

   Paul's Gospel, or rather, the fullness of New Testament teaching, still offends those whose message either directly or implicitly deemphasizes the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.  Is Christ's grace enough to save human souls from their deserved condemnation?  Is His grace enough to enable a subsequent life of faith and faithfulness?  Or do we look to another?  Do we trust in our own works for obtaining and maintaining our relationship with God?  Do we follow those whose message exalts human flesh rather than the Divine Savior?  How we answer these questions has much to do with how we view Paul and his writings.  It has even more to do with how we experience the Lord Jesus and His living presence.  We either trust Him with all our hearts, or we leave room for faith in someone or something else.  To the degree we follow the latter path will be the degree to which we experience the power of God as it motivates, guides, and empowers our walk with Him.  Long ago, the Apostle Paul suffered much rejection and disrespect because his message constituted an offense to human self-importance.  Nothing has changed in 2,000 years, and we do well to join our brother of old in his determination to exalt the Savior and His gift of wondrous grace…

"We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
(Philippians 3:3)
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
(Ephesians 2:4-7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised."
(Hebrews 10:23)

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