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Paul’s Life In One Phrase (Adam Faughn)

by

Adam Faughn

 

AdamFaughnSometimes, it just hits you. It is the realization that these people in Scripture were actually people. We can read the Bible (and even think about it) as if it were filled with fictional characters who never really lived. Of course, we know they were real people, but sometimes that realization just hits you so strongly.

Last night, I was preaching on Paul’s conversion. In my preparation for the sermon, I had a thought that hit me like a ton of bricks, and I want to share it with you. This may be something you’ve thought about hundreds of times, but it had never touched me the way it did in preparing this lesson.

To a Jewish council, Paul stated, “Brothers, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day” (Acts 23:1). Even when Paul was persecuting the Church, he just knew he was doing what was right in the eyes of Jehovah. Of course, all that changed when he met Jesus, but his zeal and faithfulness did not change. Though he went from the Jewish faith to being a disciple of Jesus, Paul was still just as strong and zealous as he had ever been.

And, though he would write about the need to follow Christ instead of the Old Law (if you don’t believe me, spend some serious time in Romans), he could not forget his former time as a faithful Jew.

There are several times in his life where Paul reflects back on his formative years as a Jew. You might consider Philippians 3:4-8, where Paul speaks of his “resume” as a Jew to show that certain false teachers were not as influential as they might have thought they were.

But it’s another phrase that hit me. In fact, it was the whole picture in my mind that really struck me. Scholars are quite certain that the final inspired letter, and probably the final letter of any type, written by Paul was what we call Second Timothy. The final chapter is where Paul famously talks about having “fought the good fight, finished the course, kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Get this picture in your mind. An elderly, battered man in prison. One who knows that his time is very short. One who probably has shaking hands as he dips his quill into ink for the final few strokes of his life. It is possible he is even hearing the chains coming down the corridor to get him, and take him to be executed for his faith.

Here was a man who still, in these final moments, was thinking of his whole life. From one who was a zealous Jew to one who was as faithful to the Messiah as anyone has ever been. And how did he choose to summarize his life?

“I am already being poured out as a drink offering.”

Paul summarized his entire life in one phrase. Those offerings from the Old Law, the ones he had spent years learning about and knowing everything about? They well summarized his life, because he had given his all. It was all poured out, but it was poured out before the God of heaven. It was offered to Him, and in His cause.

When I read that phrase, I see Paul reflecting on his whole life. He remembers it all. He can say that he has lived before God in all good conscience and be perfectly honest in that assessment. But, as his life nears its close, Paul can also say, “I’m so glad I’m not that Jewish Pharisee any longer.”

 

Lord, pour me out.

 

     Adam Faughn lives in Nashville, TN and preaches for the Lebanon Road Church of Christ




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33