Monday, April 29, 2013
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Philippians 3:7,8 KJV).
I was recently encouraged to hear two dear brothers in Christ discuss their transition from being denominational preachers to grace preachers. The Apostle Paul summarized his in today’s Scripture.
Saul of Tarsus was a religious zealot: he was a religious leader of Israel, a wealthy Pharisee (Jesus had condemned Pharisees as self-righteous and greedy.) Jesus Christ and His Jewish believers were a threat to Saul’s religion; thus, Saul mercilessly hunted down and dragged these Messianic Jews to prison. In Acts chapter 7, through the prophet Stephen, the Holy Spirit pleaded with Israel’s leadership to accept Jesus as their Messiah. Alas, unbelieving Israel stoned Stephen to death—Saul witnessed it with pleasure! (Saul was highly influential in Israel’s fall before God.)
God’s wrath on wicked Saul of Tarsus, the whole world, and especially Israel, was swiftly approaching. Just before that wrath fell, God’s grace and peace interrupted it.
In Acts chapter 9, once Saul thought he had arrested every Jew in Jerusalem who had believed Jesus was Messiah, he headed north to Damascus to arrest Messianic Jews there. Before he reached Damascus, he personally met the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ and was never the same again! He trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, and he quit his silliness in religion. For the next 35 years, he preached the grace of Jesus Christ, the Person he had so vehemently opposed.
Once he made the transition from the traditions of men to the message of God’s grace to us in Christ, Paul lost his fame and fortune (sounds familiar, huh?). His salary as a denominational leader dwindled, his “friends” scattered, and he was branded a “heretic” (sounds familiar, huh?). So what! In his own words, that was all “but dung” (today’s Scripture)—he “won Christ,” and never looked back… May we follow his ensample. 🙂