This past Sunday I got the distinct honor of preaching for our youth (Fusion) here at Element Church. The last time I spoke at Fusion was April 14, 2009. I remember the date because it was significant for 2 reasons: 1 - it was 3 months EXACTLY after God confirmed my call to ministry and B - it was the very first time I got to preach...EVER! So Fusion holds a special place in my heart and when Pastor Andy asked me to teach on Paul, he didn't even finish the question before I answered, "Abso-freaking-lutely!!!"
The first part of the message was just laying out Paul's life. I pointed out some facts about who he was before his conversion, what happened during his conversion and what his ministry looked like. Then I got to share the stuff that God revealed to me about Paul's life. There is so much in Paul's life that God used that absolutely applies to our lives today as it relates to living a radically changed life marked by radical obedience.
1. Paul responded to Jesus’ call.
Jesus called him on the road to Demascus and instructed him to go into Demascus and wait (Acts 9:6). So Paul got up and went to Damascus (Acts 9:8). Then he didn't wait to be told to preach the Good News. Instead he immediately began teaching about Jesus (Acts 9:20).
I think for some of us we struggle to hear from God. So how do we hear what He wants to say to us? Through spending time with Him. Prayer is how we talk to God, the Bible is how he talks to us, and spending time with other believers (The Church) is how we get to see Him move and work.
2. Paul acknowledges his sinfulness (1 Tim 1:15), but also acknowledges his righteousness in Christ. (Phil 3:8-9).
In 1 Tim 1:15 Paul says, "This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'—and I am the worst of them all." He calls himself the worst of all sinners, but he doesn't leave it there. He doesn't wallow in the guilt of who he used to be or what he had done. In Phil 3:8-9 he says, "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith." Paul acknowledges that his righteousness is in Christ.
Not only does he acknowledge where his righteousness lies, but he also understood that Christ was making him different, new. He got that Jesus had radically changed him and that he was meant to look like Him. In Col 3:10, Paul tells us to, "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." So it isn't enough to just acknowledge our righteousness in Christ, but we must also reflect it to others.
3. Paul was obedient even though he suffered.
The Holy Spirit told Paul time after time that he would suffer wherever he went, but the thing is...he still went. And the flip side to that coin is even though he was obedient, God still allowed him to suffer.
In 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Paul tells the church in Corinth, "even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
You see, the fact is that neither our good times nor our bad times are evidence of how much God loves us. God’s grace and what Jesus did on the cross is THE evidence of how much He loves us and our obedience (regardless of our circumstance) is evidence of how much we love Him.
4. Paul lived a missional life.
Paul lived his life for the purpose of seeing others brought home to God. Here's how he says it...
Rom 10:1 - Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.
1 Tim 2:7 - And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.
Not only did he desire to see people saved, but He trained others to preach the Good News and sent them out to tell others.
You see, Paul knew that Jesus had radically changed him and wanted to live his life with the same radical obedience. So Paul responded to Jesus’ call, acknowledged his righteousness, he was obedient (even through suffering) and lived a life on mission for Jesus. That is Radical change…and the ONLY response to that is radical obedience.
So if you want to know if you’re living a life that has been radically change and desire to live a life marked by radical obedience here's some questions you can ask yourself:
1. Am I responding to what God is saying to me?
2. Do I acknowledge and reflect the righteousness that I have in Christ?
3. Do I trust Jesus through the good and bad times?
4. Am I living my life on mission for Jesus?
Asking those questions,