WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PICTURES DEPICTING VIOLENCE.
Who in the Bible am I describing?
- This person knew multiple languages.
- This person’s parents were Pharisees. Religious leaders who upheld the OT laws.
- This person was well educated, one of the best students at his school.
- This person studied under the best teacher in Jerusalem, (Gamaliel) guh-MAY-lih-ehl
- Highly respected by his peers.
- Born in TARSUS, a busy metropolitan area with diverse cultures, international commerce and trade.
- It was a male.
- He believed in the God of OT, but did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Answer: The Apostle Paul, also known as Saul early on.
(Who do you think guessed correctly during Bible study?- Al Flannigan! Let’s go!)
Paul hated those who believed in Jesus. For that reason, he persecuted them and, in some cases, assisted in killing them. He threw them into prison, dragging them out of their homes for teaching/ preaching. He didn’t want to contain them in one spot. He wanted to rid Christianity from the face of the earth.
The scriptures tell us in Acts 9 that many followers of Jesus had left Jerusalem and were hiding out in Damascus. Paul asked the High Priest for warrants that would allow him to travel to Damascus and arrest the Christians. The High Priest granted his request.
On his way there we read in Acts 9…
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
(Lord was used in Greek for humans in position of authority. Saul was showing respect).
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So, they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Why do you think God blinded Saul/Paul? I believe one reason is so he wouldn’t think it was a dream! It was supernatural.
Through this event Paul was eventually baptized, spent several days with the disciples and the rest of his life devoted to sharing the truth of Jesus , the one he once denied.
The same dude that killed and persecuted Christians, wrote 14 of the 27 books in the New Testament.
Paul was committed to telling others about Jesus. In fact, he was so committed he was eventually killed for doing so (beheaded).
Paul got his head cut off for his belief 2000 years ago…BUT this is modern day!
This was a video on YouTube that has been removed of Isis beheading Christians in Lybia. (Jesus says, “If they persecuted me they will persecute you also”. Sometimes, I wonder if I am NOT being persecuted, am I really living for the Lord?.
It’s not just men who are persecuted...
This was in a city called Mosul, not far from Damascus.
Isis and radical Islamic groups turned Christian churches into torture chambers.
And if believers didn't convert to Islam they were crucified in public…Just like Jesus was.
Like believers during the time of Paul, Christians all over the world continue to be persecuted for their faith in Jesus.
What can we learn from Paul’s life?
1. Life Application: It doesn’t matter how your start, it’s how you finish.
In basketball it’s not how you start your SEASON, it’s how you finish.
Same goes for your life with the Lord. Finish well. No sin you commit is too great. God is always willing to forgive. That is why Paul was able to say, “I have finished the race, I fought the fight, I kept the faith”. He finished well.
2. God Application: I believe God used Paul because he was so well respected & educated. He already had a platform, and God used Paul as his “Chosen instrument” vs. 15. God has given each of you a platform. How are you going to use it?? NIL? Social Media? Are you going to glorify self or God? How can you use your platform to honor God?
3. Basketball Application: Paul gives us all an example of what commitment looks like. He gave everything he had. He was beaten. He was thrown in prison multiple times, he was stoned, left for dead on an abandoned Island, lost friendships, and finally was martyred for his faith in Jesus.
I encourage everyone to be committed to the Word, be committed to working hard, be committed to learn, be committed to being a good teammate, be committed to making sacrifices, be committed to pushing your body to the limits.
I’d love to see players, at the end of the season, come up to me and say, "Jeremy we believed, we were better together, we stayed committed to this team just like all the examples you have shared in the Scripture, and we have a championship because of it."
But you know what I would love to see and hear more? Players come back one, five or ten years from now and say, "Jeremy, I have kept my faith. I have represented Christ and I am not ashamed. I made him the LORD of my life and I live for him."