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Paul – God’s Mistake Maker
Father wants so much more than to “just” give you personal salvation!
What patch of land were you created to redeem?
Are you ready to imagine, embrace, participate, cooperate?
Listen to the audio on CityLifeChurch.net
With what lens can we look at Paul?
History – What is the context and background?
Exegesis – how we interpret the individual texts.
Theology – what is the picture of God?
Application – What might God be inviting us to?
Us – our lens is also positively our own life
“That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he condemned them to prison.”
… immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed. ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked his name?’ Saul became increasingly powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus.
The BOOK OF ACTS tells us about Paul’s integral role in the early church.
He wrote the letters to the ROMANS, CORINTHIANS 1 & 2 GALATIONS, PHILLIPIANS
He probably wrote COLOSSIANS, EPHESIANS, 2 THESSALONIANS, TIMOTHY 1 & 2, TITUS
‘He is the IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created Paul invites his hearers to trust both in Jesus Christ and in the FATHER whose love triumphed in the death of his son – and in the HOLY SPIRIT who makes that victory operative in our moral lives and who enables us to love God in return.’ (Check out Romans 5.5; 8.28)
4 Points from Paul’s Life: Theology [T] & Application [A]
Theology: A radical encounter with Jesus is what gives Paul faith that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. Hi theology is Christo-centric.
Application: What do you think of Jesus? Have you ever imagined interacting with him? What do you think of that?
But if he now believes that Jesus is God, why doesn’t Paul spend his entire life feeling bad for killing Jesus’ friends?
What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one. Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of vipers is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3.9-18
But now, irrespective of the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. Romans 3.21-25
Theology: Paul believes that humans are all sinful. The Jews were unable to remain faithful to the covenant that God made with Abraham; but God remained faithful. We are guilty, but because of Jesus, God the judge finds in our favour – we are given a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
Application: What do you think of the idea that you are sinful? And that through Jesus, you have been found ‘not guilty’? And what about the idea that God is utterly faithful and on our side?
Paul’s GOOD NEWS is NOT EXCLUSIVELY about PERSONAL SALVATION.
And we must guard against a ‘you can’t do anything and you mustn’t try’ logic. (which is very postmodern
CREATION – COVENANT – ESCHATOLOGY
Paul provides us with spectacular reading of CREATION THEOLOGY:
‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of We are pointed back to Genesis 1, where humanity was invited to take responsibility for God’s good earth:
‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’
We are pointed back to Genesis 15, reminded of the COVENANT that God has made with Abraham and his descendants, in which they were called to be a Holy Nation, reflecting the image of the invisible God.
We reminded that humanity has failed to be the image of God, but instead: ‘Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.’
‘He is the IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the FIRST BORN OF ALL CREATION; for in him all things were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him.’Theology; For Paul, Jesus is the point at which creation and covenant come together – he is the ‘image of God’ that humanity has failed be. Through Jesus, God the judge finds in our favour AND we are restored to our true inheritance as stewards of the earth. We are called to be part of the renewal of the earth – to participate.Application: How do you feel about the idea that you are being asked to participate in, to share responsibility for,God’s renewal of the earth, inaugurated by Jesus?But how do PARTICIPATE IN RENEWAL when we are sinful? Weren’t we the problem in the first place? (Maybe we can’t do anything and we shouldn’t try?)
But how do PARTICIPATE IN RENEWAL when we are sinful? Weren’t we the problem in the first place?
(Maybe we can’t do anything and we shouldn’t try?)
SOMETHING AMAZING IS HAPPENING.
Paul provides us with a spectacular articulation of the work of Holy Spirit in our lives:
‘There is now therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by flesh, could not do…’
Do NOT BE CONFORMED to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING OF YOUR MINDS, do that you may discern what the will of God is – what is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT. Romans 12:1-2
Theology: Paul believes that humans are able to be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us, enabling us to be guided by him.
Application: Do you feel like you’ve had experience of cooperating with the Holy Spirit? What might that look like for you?
PERSPECTIVES ON PAUL’S THEOLOGY
1. Jesus is at the centre. Paul’s life turned around when he encountered Jesus and his faith is posited on Jesus’ identity.
2. God has found in our favour. In Jesus, we are forgiven for our most terrible deeds (and thoughts!)
3. We are called to take responsibility for the earth. Through Jesus, we are restored to our inheritance: to be stewards of the earth. We have a role to play in renewal!
4. Our participation is enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are not trapped by our sin. We can actually grow the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
WHAT MIGHT GOD BE INVITING US TO?
1. To IMAGINE Jesus with us?
2. To EMBRACE the ‘not guilty’ verdict?
3. To PARTICIPATE in the renewal of the earth?
4. To COOPERATE with the work of the Holy Spirit?