GOD WILL WORK THROUGH ANYONE, AND USE ANYTHING IN ACCOMPLISHING HIS DIVINE PURPOSE!
ACTS 9:6,”Lord, what will you have me to do?”
3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” [1 CORINTHIANS 4:3-4,]
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [PHILIPPIANS 1:21 NIV]
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [GALATIANS 2:20 NIV]
What would motivate a person to say such things, except they be totally submitted to a cause? As they say, every effect has a corresponding and sufficient cause. Nowhere is that more exemplified than in Paul, the apostles journey, as testified by the Christians of Judea, “He that persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” The Lord had turned tables, taking captivity captive, and making a fierce persecutor himself forever afterwards the “prisoner of Jesus Christ.” From a developing manuscript, I examine biblical evidence and non-biblical examples of God working through people and using things, to accomplish His divine purposes.
In this excerpt I look at Paul, the apostle of Christ. It is impossible to cover Paul’s life and ministry in a Facebook post, but I attempt to highlight four outstanding traits that place him in the ranks of impacting personalities in that, the Christian doctrine is largely influenced by Paul’s Letters and Epistles. Paul features prominently in the New Testament but is not in any way equal to, or at par, with the Lord Jesus Christ, except as the servant of God and apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God [1 Cor. 4:1-5]. Clarence E. Macartney in the book, “Paul the Man: His Life and His Ministry,” observes:” About the time that a mother’s heart rejoiced over the child which lay on her breast in a manger at Bethlehem, another mother in far off Tarsus held in her arms of love another child whom his parents called Saul. Two infants with two destinies. But one was destined to be the world’s Saviour and Redeemer, and the other to be his great apostle. In the mysterious purposes of God the star which halted over the manger at Bethlehem whispers concerning the future to the star which halted over the house of the Pharisee in Tarsus.
God had spoken through the elements, nature and the entire creation, affirmed it! Talk of stars! If we are keen, we will see God at work through humans, in nature, technology, science or in supernatural occurences around us. We will see Him in signs and miracles. But not all miracles and signs are His. Apostle Paul distinguishes himself as a most eloquent preacher ever, and appears upon the stage of human affairs at a great epoch. Jesus Christ had come, taught, done wonders, died, risen again from the dead and ascended into heaven, leaving to His disciples the work of preaching the Gospel to all the world. Paul describes the apostolic mission and terms of reference clearly: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” [1 Cor. 4:1-2 KJV]. But how strange and dramatic are the ways of God?
Apparently, in the continuation of Jesus’ great work, the foremost place was to be taken by one who not only was not of the original disciples and followers of Christ, but who was a chief enemy and campaigner against His Church. Out of the ranks of haters and adversaries of Christ, God chose Saul of Tarsus to carry the story of Christ and Him crucified, to the nations of the world. How ironical? Who knows God? Who can really figure out God? Who can fathom the mind of God? But hey, nobody is suggesting we can pick just anyone to serve God without the leading of His Spirit. Human wisdom and planning would never have shortlisted such a man for any function within the church. No way! But the ways of God are not the ways of man, and it was the fierce, persecuting hater of Christ and His disciples whom God settled for and called to be a “chossen vesel” to bear His name before nations and kings and the children of Israel.
After Christ Himself and the Scriptures, St. Paul is the greatest possession of the Christian faith and advancement in diversity, yet we can easily describe him in four ways:
- FIRST, as an incomparable example of Christian character, mindset and behaviour. He says to the church in Corinth [and by extension we], “Be ye followers of me even as I am also of Christ” [1 Cor. 11:1]. If we had no record of the life of Christ in the Gospels, that statement plus what we have in the pages of the Acts and the Epistles, would suffice as an indication of the glory of the Christian life and the way to follow Christ.
- SECOND, as a great mind in whom Christianity is secured with rare tact, diplomacy, enthusiasm; Logical, searching and thoroughly analytical, Paul is not just content in declaring that the death of Christ on the Cross is the ground of our forgiveness, but he also shows why and how it is the manifest satisfaction for our sins.
- THIRDLY, as a great preacher, missionary and church builder whose intellectual and practical gifts marched illustriously. One is left to wonder what to marvel at, about Paul’s life and ministry more: is it his grand utterances concerning the Christian faith and hope, or in the way he dealt with all kinds and conditions of men and situations in meeting their diverse needs? Is it in addressing mobs in Jerusalem? or speaking before the Sanhedrin? or disputing in the synagogues? or addressing a bunch of philosophers on Mars Hill? or exhorting the peasants of Galatia? or pleading his case before Festus, Agrippa and Felix? or encouraging the despairing passengers, fellow prisoners and crew in a shipwreck? Be it any of these, Paul is at home with amazing adaptability and versatility that stirs his audience, nonetheless. If they are not left rioting, they are completely wowed to the point of declaring him some god, or revived and converted to follow Christ. Certainly, he leaves “no stone unturned and perturbed!”
- FOURTH, Christianity gained in St. Paul a most powerful evidence of the truth of the Gospel, hence, gospel truth. Saul of Tarsus, the fierce bigot, blasphemer and persecutor of the people of the Way, became Paul the Apostle, Christ’s noblest friend and advocate; Saul of Tarsus, the chief campaigner, destroyer and waster of the churches, became the chief builder of them hence the greater mind of the New Testament and most profound statement of Christian truth, winsome and beautiful presentation of the Christian graces and virtues that leave no doubt as to the ultimate triumph of the Church of Christ and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against. Halleluya!!
There’s no doubt whatsoever that God prepared Paul from birth for such a role, the same way He has prepared any of us for what we are doing, no matter how insignificant. The important thing for us to do is to allow ourselves to be used of God as we yield to His voice through the Holy Spirit. We should never attempt to “assist” God where He has not called us or go ahead of Him in our mind and flesh. We will miss the assignment and yet still be forced to wait upon Him for instructions. That can be very frustrating. Meanwhile, the example from Saul serves right to make us remember that God will not always go for the pious or righteous to do His will. Even the “crooked” and most wicked among us, are and can be His chosen instruments. Truly, God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. “Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will. “The apostle Paul was a superbly educated logician who could skilfully weave together history and philosophy, yet he also brooded over his missionary churches like a parent.
He asked the Corinthians pointedly, “Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” [1 Cor. 4:21]. He appeared on the stage of Christian history just to hear the first martyr pray, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” [Acts 7:59] and yet having in like manner endured a stoning experience, Paul, passes from the stage of Christian history with a similar prayer with Stephen’s great expectation in his heart: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” [2 Timothy 4:6]. Behold Stephen’s farewell, spoken with bleeding lips, with Saul urging those who hurled the stones, and Paul’s farewell, a prisoner in chains, written in the damp and gloom of the Mamertine dungeon, we see the face of the martyr and the face of the persecutor and inquisitor. Lo! and behold, there lies the great miracle of Christian history, the conversion of Saul to Paul and the signature of God’s own handwriting, that indeed, He will work through anyone and use anything, to bring His purposes to bear.
Shalom! Shalom! Shalom!
©2020 by Daniel Mathews W’Obukosia