There are stories, since time immemorial, that remain untold. Hidden away under lock and key, or perhaps, even hidden in the hearts of man. Due to the nature of the story, perchance, the people deemed it fit to keep it secret.
In a bid to maintain stability, and what they perceived as a peaceful coexistence, the secret remained a secret. Yet, then again, is there really such a thing as a secret between two people?
On the other hand, stories based on truth have also been told. However, over time such stories have become distorted through people’s exaggerations or filtered through individualistic perceptions. Without a physical recording of the original story, no one can really prove or disapprove an event that happened many years ago.
Yet, one truth-based story remains unaffected by time. The original happenings all recorded and kept in pristine state. Care to take a guess? That’s right, the Bible. This one book has changed the lives of millions and continues to do so even today. I dare say that it will continue to do so until the stars fall from the sky.
Mark 13:25: and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. (NASB)
However, today we shall be focusing on one particular individual, whose very foundation of everything he knew was shaken. He pursued the early church relentlessly, believing that he was doing God a great service. He turned cities and towns upside down as he persecuted and instigated the death of Christians.
Paul, the writer of a number of life-changing epistles in the Bible, did this. It’s hard to believe or even begin to imagine, right? His fight against God and against Christianity ended up becoming his turning point.
He had an encounter with Christ Himself as he was on his way to Damascus. He discovered love, he discovered grace and he discovered truth. Essentially, He found our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Acts 9:3-5: “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting…” (NASB)
From the above excerpt, we see that Paul encountered Jesus Christ. Once a person encounters God, it’s hard to remain the same. By studying Paul’s epistles, it doesn’t take much to realize that Paul was Christocentric, as well as his messages.
Paul and God’s Grace
In Paul’s Epistles, notice that he always opens his letters with the words, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7) Additionally, Paul always closes his letters with a benediction that pertains to Grace.
He, Paul, uses the word Grace at least 100 times in his letters. Evidently, grace was a very important reality to him, and rightly so. It was God’s grace that took him from what he used to be, to a great man of God.
Ephesians 3:7-8: “… of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ…” (NASB)
From the above verse, Paul considered himself to be the least of all saints. (We are considered saints once we get saved. Even though we still have a sinful nature, we now have the power to resist sin.) So, why did Paul consider himself the least of all the saints?
The below verse answers our question:
1 Corinthians 15:9: For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (NASB)
Yet, this is a man who turned the world upside down preaching the word of God. God did not look at his deeds and reject him. He used him for something even greater. This is a picture of God’s grace.
This, however, begs the question, what is grace? Grace is the unmerited favor from God.
What is Grace?
There are a number of ways to define grace. According to The New American Standard Bible’s Concordance, grace is God bestowing upon a person good things that he/she does not deserve. Grace is something we cannot earn because there is nothing we can do to deserve it.
Grace is when Jesus Christ hung on the cross, for human beings that did, and still, do not deserve it. Yet, because of God’s goodness and love, He still bestows on us good things. For instance, the gift of salvation, which was the price for our sin.
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NASB)
This is what Paul received and experienced from God. Grace is what God extends to us on a daily basis. The Good Lord knows we need it, and even more as each day goes by.
The Picture of Grace
When Jesus Christ appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, He uttered the words: Acts 9:5: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (KJV)
What did Jesus Christ mean when he uttered the phrase, “kick against the pricks?” The term, “pricks” can be used interchangeably with the term, “goads.” Though we may not be familiar with such a phrase or term, it was well understood in Paul’s time.
A goad is essentially a long stick like structure that is sharp on one end. Farmers would often use the sharp end to prick an animal into moving or working. Animals were known to kick against pricks or goads, an action that would only hurt them.
In essence, God was already pursuing and working on Paul. Yet, Paul stubbornly refused to yield due to his self-righteousness. The more the Lord nudged Paul, the more he resisted, taking his anger out on the Church.
Eventually and finally, face to face with Jesus Christ, he yielded and a servant of God was born.
Is God trying to get your attention? Has He been prodding and nudging at you? If He is, why not let Him in? He wants to use you in an incredible way if you only let Him.
Matthew 9:37: Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (NASB)
His grace is innumerable and immeasurable; enough for everyone. Don’t think about what you’ve done, or think that you are too broken to be used. God will use you just as you are. Paul was most certainly not perfect, and you don’t have to be. You just have to be willing to serve Him.
2 Corinthians 12:9: And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NASB)