Saturday, September 10, 2011
“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13,14 KJV).
Saul of Tarsus, a religious fanatic, hated Jesus Christ. According to Philippians 3:5, Saul was a Pharisee, a religious leader in Israel, and a member of the Sanhedrin (Israel’s governing religious council). If Saul heard you had trusted in Jesus Christ, he wanted you imprisoned or dead (Acts 26:9-11)!
Jesus of Nazareth threatened his religion, so Saul personally made sure Jesus’ followers deeply suffered (see today’s Scripture). In a great persecution immediately following the prophet Stephen’s death, which Saul encouraged, Saul forced every Jewish believer in Jesus out of Jerusalem, except for the twelve apostles (Acts 8:1).
As angry Saul was heading north to Damascus, to arrest any Jewish believers in Christ there, the Lord Jesus from heaven suddenly struck down Saul and saved him in His grace and mercy (Acts 9:1-8)! Saul’s fanatical ministry against Jesus Christ was eternally “out of commission;” his fanatical ministry for Jesus Christ had “come into commission!”
For the next 35 years, Saul of Tarsus (now the Apostle Paul) served and preached Jesus Christ, the very Person he had so hated (Acts 9:21): “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name [Jesus Christ] in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Galatians 1:23: “…That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.”
Until his death, Paul tirelessly preached God’s grace and Christ crucified, suffering greatly for Christ’s name (2 Corinthians 11:22-28). Paul was once known for his zeal against Jesus Christ. But, even to this day, he is known for his zeal for Jesus Christ.
By faith, we follow our Apostle, considering the name “Bible fanatics” a privilege. 🙂