Other than Christ Himself, the man who has likely had the most impact on the cause and the call of the church has been a man by the name of Paul. Paul is believed to have written over 25% of the New Testament and to have started more than a dozen churches.
However, before Paul became the influential champion of Christianity, he was known as an assassin of Christians. Paul was transformed by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Although he had reason to regret his past and to be held back by shame, he was infused with his divine purpose and his unmatched call.
Paul knew who he was in Christ and that immovable knowledge buoyed his hope and stirred his resolve.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God," are Paul's introductory words to the book of Ephesians. Paul knew that anything he was called to do and anything that he would become was because of Christ Jesus. Paul did not identify himself as a murderer or as a terrorist; all of that was behind him, and he was assured that God had appointed him and was using him. Like Paul, we must leave our past in the past and refuse to be paralyzed by past sins or compromise. If God had an assignment for Paul, He also has one for you.
"I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus," are the words that begin Chapter 3 in the letter to the church at Ephesus. Not only does Paul identify himself as an apostle but also as a prisoner of Christ. Paul refused to be defined by his earthly prison because he knew that the chains of the Roman prison had no power of him. Paul realized his greatest calling and connection were to the unshakable kingdom of God. Paul was chained to his calling and to his commitment to preach the gospel to those who had not heard.
What are you a prisoner of? What holds you in chains? We are all a prisoner of something, whether it is eating, spending, success, entertainment or sports. We all choose our chains; make sure that the chains that bind you are the glorious and emancipating chains of being bound to Jesus Christ.
"Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace" is a phrase found in Ephesians 3:7 (NASB) that also reveals Paul's surety of his identity in Christ. Not only was Paul a minister in the kingdom of God, but so are you. You have received God's grace and His power; you have not been left out or ignored. The calling on your life is as great as the calling on Paul's life 2,000 years ago. Every day when you wake up, ask God to give you a personal assignment. Pray for His purposes and plans to be activated in your life just as they were in Paul's life.
"To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given" (Eph. 3:8a) are Paul's words of humility and praise to the Father. We have been saved not merely to escape hell but that God may present a people who will astonish the world. Your life was always meant to be a shining example of what the grace of God is able to do in the life of a man or a woman. If heaven could use Paul, heaven is certainly in need of your commitment and your life. God is depending on you and me to reveal the God of Paul.
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