The Appearance of the Apostle Paul

I stole the title of this post, "The Appearance of the Apostle Paul," from an old friend of mine. I don’t remember precisely what he taught, as that was 20 years ago, but I’m pretty sure it was similar to what I’m about to say.

What I’m about to say comes from 1 Thessalonians 2.

I really want to get back to Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians, but apparently that’s not for today. I really want to cover this.

Boldness

I Thess. 2:2: After we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi … we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the Gospel of God amid much opposition. (NASB)

One of my favorite people is K.V. Daniel of Mercy Homes Ministry.

K.V. is always focused. He’s relaxed and pleasant to be around, but he never loses focus of his goal. He is preaching the Gospel, making disciples, serving, and raising up children for Christ.

If what’s going on doesn’t enhance that purpose, then he’s moving on to the next thing.

The apostle Paul was like that. He’d been beaten and jailed in Philippi, then run out of town. But when he got to Thessalonica, he wasn’t thinking about resting … he was thinking about the Gospel.

He put aside everything else, and he preached the Gospel.

Notice that I titled this section "boldness," but I talked about purpose.

That’s really important.

Bold preachers of the Gospel have purpose, not just courage. If they relied on courage, then you and I would have an excuse. Maybe we’re not gifted with courage.

It’s not courage; it’s purpose.

Paul was focused on the goal; K.V. Daniel is focused on the goal; Noah Taylor (Rose Creek Village) is focused on the goal.

Those men inspire me. They are not more courageous than you and me; they are more focused than you and me.

It’s time for us to follow them.

No Flattering Speech

1 Thessalonians 2:5: We never came with flattering speech … (NASB)

This is tied to purpose as well.

Paul knew why he was preaching the Gospel, and it wasn’t to get people to agree that what he was saying is true.

Let me repeat that …

Paul knew why he was preaching the Gospel, and it wasn’t to get people to agree that what he was saying is true.

It was to transform people.

The Spirit of a Python

I mentioned the trouble Paul in Philippi. Do you remember why it happened?

While Paul was preaching a slave-girl with a spirit of a python …

I’m actually cheating a little here. The Greek word for the spirit she had is, literally, "python." However, the word is in reference to a legendary serpent from Pytho that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.

The snake we call a python is named from that legendary serpent. Luke wasn’t actually calling it a spirit of the snake we know, but a spirit of divination like what the Oracle of Delphi had.

Oh, yes. The Scriptures teach that spirits or demons are real, and we’ll survive our battles much better if we know the Scriptures are correct on that matter.

So this slave-girl with a spirit of divination doesn’t oppose Paul, she supports him!

She follows him around crying out, "These men are slaves of the Most High God, and they are proclaiming the way of salvation to you!"

Nice, huh?

Paul didn’t think it was nice. He wasn’t looking for approval, he was looking for transformation.

Therefore, he wasn’t going to share the stage with a demon.

You know the rest of the story. He became "greatly annoyed" with her, cast the demon out, ruined her owners’ business, and was thrown in jail for being a troublemaker.

Flattering Speech in the 21st Century

We’re not as astute as Paul. We share the stage with the devil all the time.

The Scriptures say that anyone who makes himself a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. In fact, friendship with the world is enmity with God.

Nonetheless, when we find that our Gospel is so watered down that it’s not saving anyone, what do we do?

Do we fix it?

No. We add friendship with the world.

We add basketball courts, rock ‘n roll music, rap, worldly hairdos and clothing styles, worldly speech, sports, and anything else we can do.

Then we obtain a modicum of success by preaching the world!

There’s a difference between loving those who are captured by the world and preaching worldliness.

I don’t want the stinky, homeless guys to be afraid to approach us. I don’t want the guys with the rings in their eyebrows to feel put off by us, nor the girls with the mohawks and black fingernails.

But it’s ridiculous if we’re encouraging followers of Christ to do those things!

Christ’s way doesn’t involve being cool, looking rebellious, or running contrary to the society in our clothing and hair.

We’ve done far worse than use flattering speech. We’ve changed the Gospel!

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Paul didn’t just say he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel. He said there is a reason he’s not ashamed of the Gospel …

Rom. 1:16-17 (wording from NASB, formatting from me):

I am not ashamed of the Gospel because …

  • it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …
  • in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith

Paul’s Gospel transformed lives. It did so because he didn’t compromise it.

He didn’t change it because he was beaten with whips in Philippi. He didn’t change it to make people feel good. He gave it out true and straight, just the way he got it from Jesus.

What was it? His description of his Gospel was: “Repent, turn to God, and do works appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20).

Of course, this repenting, turning to God, and doing works was accomplished by a grace that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10).

And that Gospel worked.

The Gospel and the Revelation of the Righteousness of God

Look at what Paul said …

In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith

When Paul’s Gospel was believed, a righteousness of God was revealed.

There’s a righteousness that the Law produces. Paul wasn’t impressed with it. It involved a lot of failure, a lot of stealing, and a lot of adultery (Rom. 2:1-3; 17-24).

But Paul’s Gospel, when believed, caused a righteousness to come forth in believers that revealed the righteousness that God wants to bring to the earth.

That’s why the Gospel is of faith and not of works. It’s not that God doesn’t care what works you do. God knows that in your conscious, western, logical, overconfident, arrogant, selfish mind, you don’t even know what good works are, much less have the power to do them.

But if you believe the Gospel and obtain grace, then grace will teach you how to live seriously, righteously, and godly in this present age (Tit. 2:11-14). You will be created anew to do good works that God himself has prepared for you to do (Eph. 2:10).

Paul wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because he was seeing it create disciples who revealed the righteousness of God. They were living the life of Christ through the incredible power of grace, a grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:14; 8:13; Gal. 3:3; 5:16-18; etc., etc., etc.)

More</h3

Well, that's more than enough for one post, don't you think?

I guess I'll leave …

  • not with a pretext for greed
  • nor did we seek glory from men
  • proved to be gentle among you, like a nursing mother
  • so fond an affection for you
  • imparting our own lives as well as the Gospel
  • working night and day
  • behaving devoutly, uprightly, and without blame
  • and exhorting, comforting, and testifying so others would walk worthy of God

… for future posts.

The part in 1 Thess. 2:13 that says that the word of God "performs its work in you who believe" (NASB), is basically covered above under "The Gospel and the Revelation of the Righteousness of God."

 

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8 Responses to The Appearance of the Apostle Paul

  1. Joel D. says:

    This can change your life… if you purpose it to. I wanted to see what else I could get out of this subject and found something in Acts.

    Acts 11:23 [Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.]

    It seems that it's our human tendency to become complacent (at least I know I struggle with it but I doubt I'm the only one) and having a reminder like this from you is much needed and appreciated. I dare say we all need to be exhorted to be purposed towards God because when I think of us purposing ourselves it is setting the very foundation for our endurance (Mat 24:13). Even on a natural level, you increase your endurance through exercise but if you don't purpose yourself to do the exercise you won't get very far.

    Anyways, we love you all and are praying for you while you're in CA.

    • shammahbn says:

      "Purpose" is somewhat equal to "seek first the kingdom of God." I've been learning on this trip how many of us have no idea about the things we put in front of the will of God, so that the very will of God is offensive to us because it gets in the way of our will. Yet we run around doing our own will and thinking that God is first in our life.

      Only Jesus Christ can save humans from themselves. We're so easily deceived.

      • John Michael says:

        Thanks for the revelation. I was reminded that Watchman Nee said that, while it is a work of God and we can't speed it up, we can keep from slowing down His work by giving ourselves to revelation and discipline. Now to give ourselves to discipline…

        • Shammah says:

          That teaching by Watchman Nee you mentioned has helped me for 25 years. In my mind, I shortened it to: “If you want to grow as fast as possible, don’t complain about anything that happens to you. Instead, consider it essential and grow from it.”

  2. Pingback: The Rest of the Old Old Story » Greed and Glory from Men: The Appearance of the Apostle Paul, Part 2

  3. John Michael says:

    And, for those of us that have always been scattered, alot to pray about. Thanks

  4. this gives me a lot to think about. Thanks friend

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