There is a fabulous paradoxical combo-lesson about salvation from the life of Paul: (1) If someone as bad as Paul can be saved, then so can we and (2) If someone as good as Paul needed to trust in Jesus to be saved, then so do we. In other words, he was so bad but not beyond salvation and so good but couldn’t earn salvation.
I was reading Philippians last night and thinking about how I like the Apostle Paul. I appreciate his writing and especially his passion in conveying the word of God. He gets a bad rap for allegedly being anti-female, but if you read him properly and in the context of his culture, he was quite the feminist (in the good sense). A woman in a Bible study once said, “I don’t like Paul. He’s a chauvinist.” I thought to myself, “I’ve got bad news for you. You’re wrong, and he wrote much of the New Testament.”
Paul had perhaps the most dramatic conversion experience ever. He went from a full-time job of persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist for Christianity of all time. That would be like Osama Bin Laden quitting terrorism to head up the Anti-Defamation League.
Paul’s life has at least two great lesson about salvation, though it is powerfully important how different they are:
1. If someone as awful as Paul can be redeemed, there is hope for us. Jesus’ sacrifice covers all our sins if we will only repent and believe. In Acts 9:5, Jesus said that Paul was persecuting Christ himself. Paul went about terrorizing, jailing and murdering Christians as his day job. If his sins can be forgiven, so can yours.
2. If an outstanding Jew like Paul still needed Jesus to be saved, then so does every other human on the planet. Consider Philippians 3:4-6:
“. . . If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”
Paul had the ultimate Jewish resume — part of the chosen people, well educated, zealous, very righteous on human terms and so much more. He had all that going for him but He still needed Christ. If such a stellar Jewish person like Paul had to have faith in Jesus to be saved then, then so do we. (Side note: What makes any Christian think we shouldn’t witness to Jewish people?)
Don’t swallow the stereotypes. Read Paul (and more!) and learn for yourself. Rejoice in the truth that just like him, you need to be saved and you can be saved.
0 thoughts on “The Apostle Paul: Two major salvation lessons”
I don’t think people realize that when they say “I don’t like Paul ” – they’re really saying –
I don’t believe Paul was a prophet of God.
For if they question Paul’s teachings & writings, they are certainly questioning God’s inspiration. Either God told Paul to write this down, or Paul was just crazy.
As you say, Paul must be read carefully & in the context of the text.
Great post. Paul is the most prolific of all of the inspired NT writers. I get sick of people claiming to be “red-letter” Christians that dismiss his teachings. I guess they skip the parts where he quotes Christ (like: “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, try to find that in the 4 Gospels).
For those who think Paul was anti-women, I would highly recommend What Paul Really Said About Women by John Temple Bristow.
Paul is my homeboy. :0
Yes, Paul rocks. The poor guy is just misunderstood.
Neil, I enjoyed this post. Thank you .
All I can say is AMEN! Well written.
I keep wondering when people complain that Paul asked wives to ‘submit’ to their husbands (I don’t think it is just bodily submission, but let’s assume it is for now) how come they miss the part where he asks husbands to love their wives to the point of giving their lives for them. Male chauvinist, indeed!! Paul is certainly awesome!! Actually I have seen that people who had rejected Christ first and then had accepted Him, are the ones who are more stronger and vocal in their faith. Paul must be their biggest inspiration!!!