THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-16-03
LESSON TITLE: GOD'S CHOSEN AND INSPIRED WRITERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: "THE APOSTLE PAUL"
Isn't it great to know God and to have the privilege of gathering together and praising His name on this wondrous Lord's Day? Thanks for joining us on this special day. We are so happy to have you this morning for this time of offering to God. How blessed we are in this country to have the freedom to assemble this day and to give this time to our Creator. It is my hope and prayer that we will each do our part to make this time of worship acceptable in God's sight and according to His Will!
Now as we begin to focus our thoughts on God, will you bow with me before His throne in prayer.
When was the last time you had a completely quiet and relaxing day? Personal and rejuvenating times like these are certainly a commodity and they usually are few and far between. I know as a parent, who works it really seems that their is never a dull moment or any time for self. However, at the end of the day we all need our own space from time to time.
This morning we want to begin by singing a song that tells us where we can go for the greatest peace and rest in life. No matter what the days hold or what life throws at us. So I hope you will join in with the congregation at this time as we sing, "Peace, Perfect Peace!"
(SONG # 1)
Sometimes we might wonder just how much God cares for us. We are probably even guilty of feeling that sometimes God just doesn't care at all. However, I can assure you that this is completely untrue. In fact, the Bible is full of personal examples and statements given by God's followers that proves the true care and concern of our Lord for us.
One such verse that confirms God's care is found in Isaiah 43:1,2. Here we read about God's true love and care for a faithful servant and just how far God will go for those He loves. There we read, "But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you." God loves us enough to always be there and to always stay by our side.
Another great verse in the New Testament that helps us with this thought is found in Hebrews 13:5, there it says, "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Brethren and friends, I think we often forget just how much our God does love us and care for us as His ultimate creation. Now, the question is, "have you responded to that love and care through an obedience to His Will?" If not, why not? Choose today to serve this loving and caring God as He has commanded you to.
In just a few minutes we will begin our main study of the day. This morning, we are happy to have brother Paul Fisher with us today, to lead us in our study from God's Word. Brother Fisher is the minister for the Marshfield Church of Christ in Marshfield, Missouri.
As far as our series, today we will be continuing to talk about, "God's Chosen and Inspired Writers Of The New Testament!" The specific lesson of the day will deal with, "The Apostle Paul!" So please stay with us and after our next song, brother Fisher will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Paul Fisher
Greetings and welcome to The Living Word program. My name is Paul Fisher and I am the evangelist at the Marshfield Church of Christ in Marshfield, Missouri. I want to thank the elders at the Kansas Expressway congregation for inviting me to be on the program this morning.
For the past several weeks, we have been looking at the different men who were human pen men of the New Testament who were guided by the Holy Spirit to write just what God commanded them to write. The writer that we will look at this morning is credited with writing 13 letters or epistles of the New Testament. Yet, before this man became a writer of those epistles, he was a persecutor of the church. By now, you know that I am speaking of Saul or as he is better known by his Roman name, Paul, later to be called Paul the Apostle. Paul wrote Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon. We know that he was the human penman of these books because his name is in the introduction of each one, such as in Romans chapter 1 and verse 1 which says, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated into the gospel of God."
As I mentioned earlier, Paul was not always a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, he was a persecutor of those that followed what he called, "this way," in Acts chapter 9 and verse 2. In fact, that is why we find him on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9. He had gone to the High Priest of the Jews and desired of him letters that he could go as far as Damascus and arrest and bring bound anyone whom he found was a follower of Jesus.
Paul was a man who was born in Tarsus, a city of Sicily in what is now called the country of Turkey. His father was of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew and a Pharisee, according to Philippians chapter 3 and verse 5 and Acts 23, verse 6. Paul was given the name "Paul" when he was circumcised on the 8th day according to the Law of Moses, Philippians 3, verse 5. He was a free born Roman citizen according to Acts 22, verses 25-29 which prove to be one of the great important things in his ministry. Like other Jewish boys of his day and time, Paul was taught a trade and he was taught the trade of tent-making according to Acts 18 and verse 3. At an early age, he was sent to Jerusalem to be educated at the feet of Gameliel where he was taught according to the perfect manner of the law, the Father's, according to Acts 22 and verse 3. In his own words, Paul excelled in his studies, Galatians 1, verse 14, and in his zeal towards God. It was because this zeal no doubt that Paul was traveling to Damascus where he had an unexpected encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ that we find in Acts chapter 9 and verses 4-6. Paul changed from a persecutor to a follower of Jesus. While he was in Damascus, a disciple named Ananias came to Paul and taught him what he needed to know and he was converted. Later, as he told King Agrippa, he was obedient to what he had been taught including being baptized for the forgiveness of his sins and to have his sins washed away as he stated in Acts 22 and verse 16.
To the astonishment of the Jews, this one time persecutor began to preach Jesus Christ in the Jewish synagogues of Damascus, in Acts chapter 8 and verses 20-21. Because the Jews took council to kill him, he was forced to leave Damascus by means of being let down over the wall at night. From there, he went to Jerusalem where he was befriended by Barnabus in Acts 9, verse 27. After a short stay at Jerusalem where he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Grecian Jews, he was once more made to flee for his life. So he went back to Tarsus and out of the New Testament record for awhile.
Later, as New Testament Christianity began to spread further, Barnabus was sent to Antioch, Assyria to help the followers of Jesus Christ in that city, according to Acts 11, verses 19-21. After Barnabus exhorted the brethren at Antioch, he traveled to Tarsus to find Paul and to bring him back to help teach those that were at Antioch. From Antioch, these two disciples were sent forth by the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 13, verse 4, on what we now call the first missionary journey.
My friends, if you think that you have sins in your lives that God could never forgive and this is why you've never become a Christian, think about Paul. He began as a persecutor of the Christians to the point of even putting people to death. But if you, like Paul, would become obedient to God, including all His commandments, including those of repentance of sin, confession of faith, and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and will have your sins washed away just like Paul did, according to Acts 22:16, then God also can forgive you.
Now that you know briefly how Paul was converted from a persecutor of the Christians to being a Christian himself, an evangelist, a missionary and a writer of many New Testament books, let us look at the introduction of these books and learn something of a more interesting nature about Paul and his relationship to Jesus Christ, to God and to his fellow Christians.
Turn in your Bibles if you will back to Romans chapter 1 and verse 1 and let's look at that verse again. "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated into the gospel of God." Paul looked upon his relationship to Jesus Christ as being Jesus' servant. Paul was spiritually and morally bound or bonded to Jesus as the Christ. As Christians, if we claim Jesus as the Lord of our lives, then we are claiming for ourselves the position just like Paul's. We are claiming that we are Christ's servants. Paul noted in this passage that not only was he a servant of Jesus Christ, but that he was also called to be an apostle. The word "apostle" meant "one sent forth," and is used by the Lord Himself to describe His relationship to God in Hebrews 3, verse 1, and it was used to describe the twelve disciples whom Jesus chose for special training in Luke 6, verse 13. Paul was chosen by Jesus after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven to carry the Word to the Gentiles. Paul was separated to this work of carrying the gospel of God to the Gentiles which meant that he was set apart for this work. So in this one verse we find out much about Paul's relationship to Jesus and to God and as their servant as well we find his relationship to other Christians. He was an apostle. One sent forth and his message was that of the gospel of God.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 1, there we find Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the Will of God and Sosthenes our brother. Again, we find Paul claimed by the inspiration of God that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. This was done through or by the authority or will of God. Paul had to defend his claim of apostleship because there were those Jews who followed him around and denied that he could be an apostle. Paul wanted the readers of this letter or this epistle to understand that he was an apostle and he was one because it was the Will of God.
Notice also that Paul does not fail to mention his fellow workers who were with him when he writes to these different congregations and here he mentions Sosthenes whom Paul calls our brother. This man may have been a ruler of the synagogue that we read about in Acts 18, verse 17 who later became a follower of Jesus Christ himself. Whoever this man was, he was someone who was known to the church at Corinth and he was according to Paul their spiritual brother. Since this name occurs nowhere else but here in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 1 and in Acts 18:17 where we find that this man was the chief ruler of the synagogue who was beaten before the judgment seat of Acadia for taking Paul before him and accusing him falsely of things. Many scholars think that this was one and the same person. Since it is often the case that the most violent opposers of the truth when they are once one to the truth become like the apostle Paul himself, a most enthusiastic promoter. I can but conclude that this person is the one and the same.
From this verse again we are made aware of the apostle Paul being that of Jesus Christ, that this apostleship was by the Will of God or by His authority. Plus, Paul credited others who were his fellow laborers who had a part in a work and here mentions Sosthenes.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 1, there we find these words. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the Will of God, and Timothy our brother unto the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints which are at Acadia." Paul and apostle of Jesus Christ. This is the title Paul had of authority and all but five of his epistles used this title. Whenever his apostleship was called into question, Paul would use this title to emphasize that he was chosen and sent just like the original twelve were chosen and sent by Jesus Christ.
In Corinth, there were those who denied Paul's claim of apostleship and he called these people "false apostles and deceitful workers," 2 Corinthians 11, verse 13. Because of these false apostles, Paul placed great stress upon his credentials. He was an apostle of Christ, not self appointed, but under God's appointment. Also again, we find Paul sharing these greeting with those who helped him, this time Timothy our brother is mentioned. Paul was writing to the church of God which was at Corinth. The church is God ordained. It is a company of obedient believers bound together by faith in Jesus Christ to encourage and to strengthen each other and to spread the gospel throughout the whole world with all the saints which are in Acadia. All Christians are called saints. And as the meaning of this word means "the sanctified ones in that they are set apart in service to God."
In the epistle or letter written to the Galatians, we find this introduction. "Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead." In Corinth, there were those who questioned Paul's apostleship. So again, he claimed his apostleship for being an apostle or the authority that he claimed for being an apostle. This apostleship was not given to him of men, nor was it by men. In other words, it was not a human authority. He was an apostle by the authority of Jesus Christ and of God. Also, the emphasis placed on the fact that God the Father is the one who raised Jesus from the dead.
In Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the Will of God to the saints which are at Ephesus to the faithful in Christ Jesus." Again, we notice the relationship of Paul towards Jesus Christ. He is an apostle, one sent to carry a message. This apostleship is by the Will or authority of God and Paul was writing to the Christians or to the saints at Ephesus to all who are faithful in Christ Jesus, who would one day read this letter.
In Philippians chapter 1 and verse 1, we find a different opening. There we find "Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." In Philippi, the apostle Paul's apostleship was not questioned. They believed the evidence that he presented as his apostleship so in this epistle, Paul started by letting them know that the epistle or letter is for them and is from him and Timotheus, the Greek spelling of the name Timothy. Emphasis is placed also again on the fact that both Paul and Timothy are the servants of Jesus Christ. They have Him as their common master. Both of these men of the gospel were willing to be servants for the gospel's sake, which points out that our need as Christians today to be servants to Jesus Christ and to not think too highly of ourselves. This letter or epistle was written to all the saints, those who were sanctified by obedience through the gospel of Jesus Christ which were at the congregation there in Philippi.
Paul pointed out that this epistle was also for the bishops and elders of that congregation as well as the deacons who served that congregation. We notice always in the New Testament that the congregations of the Lord's church had a plurality of elders, bishops or as they are sometimes called pastors and not just one.
We see that Paul also wrote many other books like 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and also Philemon, and Philemon we find Paul a prisoner of Jesus Christ and Timothy, our brother, and Philemon, our dearly beloved and fellow laborer. Paul wanted Philemon to know that he was a prisoner, not shackled with self-riveted, but chained with the rivets of love for Jesus Christ, as all Christians should be and should do today.
As we look at what the apostle Paul did for us, he spent much of his life writing letters so that we would know what we need to do as a Christian so that we could maintain our Christianity. I hope that this has been helpful to you today.
(SONG # 3 - "He Leadeth Me!")
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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What a great man the Apostle Paul was and how blessed we are that God chose to use him to reveal to us His Precious Message! Have you become obedient to the message of Christ?