The Layman's Bible

Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation

Priorities

priorities-number-1What is your number one focus in life?  Since this is a Bible blog, you already know that the correct answer is “God” or “Jesus” or something to that effect.  But putting our church faces aside, let’s be honest: your main focus is probably you – I know mine is.  Sure, you may care about others; but in the grand scheme of things almost everyone is looking out for number one.  But not Paul.  As I listened to the Bible on my mp3 player, the Holy Spirit reminded me just how messed up (by human standards) Paul’s priorities were.

Paul once wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9).  If Paul is the lowest of the apostles, the bottom of the barrel of Christ-followers, then we’re all screwed; because he also wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” and actually lived like it!  He dedicated his life to spreading the gospel and to saving as many people as he possible could.  Actually, he even wrote, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9:19).

The trial of PaulConsider Paul’s work after he was arrested.  During his trial before King Agrippa, Paul kept trying to work Christ’s resurrection and salvation into his defense.  It got to the point where Festus, the Governor, couldn’t take it anymore.  Scripture records his response, “At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense.  ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted.  ‘Your great learning is driving you insane’” (Acts 26:24).  And Paul’s response was even more fun, “’I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied.  ‘What I am saying is true and reasonable’” (Acts 26:25).  Rather than try to get back on track, Paul just kept talking about Jesus as much as he could, even if he sounded crazy.  Here he was, chained as a prisoner, and he cared more about getting the officials to Christ than escaping from his situation.  During the trial he continued on preaching and history has marked it down as Paul kept going:

“King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets?  I know you do.”

     Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

     Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:27-29).

Paul knew he sounded crazy; but he didn’t care.  He just kept trying to plant the seeds of salvation, even in the direst of circumstances.  But how could he care about his image?  Paul knew that the gospel was hard for non-Christians to accept.  He wrote,

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 22-24).

Paul never stopped talking about Jesus.  He would even talk all night if he felt the need was there.  Actually, the Bible records one such instance.  We read,

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.  Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.  There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.  Seated in a widow was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.  When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.  Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “He’s alive!”  Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate.  After talking until daylight, he left (Acts 20:7-11).

What always gets me is that even after some dude almost died Paul just kept right on preaching.  He had such a one-tracked mind.

Even later, while seriously in prison, Paul focused on Jesus.  Philippians 1:12-13 records,

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Paul was chained to Roman guards probably 24/7, and what did he do?  He used the chains to hold a captive audience with his ramblings about Christ.  Even when unscrupulous preachers started popping up everywhere, Paul didn’t complain.  He wrote,

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.  But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18).

priorities-pauls-stanceYou know, these days we get so bent out of shape from greedy or problematic pastors.  Heck, there are websites devoted to basically knocking down every well-known Christian preacher for being “false prophets.”  But Paul’s stance was, “If people are getting saved, then why are we complaining?”  I recently heard another pastor make the same comment; he noted that yeah, some pastors are greedy, but their congregations trust Christ.  We fight amongst the various sects of the church but Paul only focused on one thing, “Is Jesus being preached as the savior?”  We modern Christians need to wake up and stop splitting hairs on doctrine.  Now, should corruption be cut out?  Absolutely, but don’t turn church into a witch hunt either

Towards the end of his life, during his trial in Rome, Paul didn’t so much care about his defense as he did about preaching to the Roman officials.  We read from Paul’s hand,

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth (2 Timothy 4:16-17).

Paul’s mind only had one focus: bringing the rest of the world to salvation.  To this extent he even once wrote,

For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs is the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises (Romans 9:3-4).

That’s hardcore.  If it came down to a choice between you or me; screw you I’m going to heaven.  But that’s not how Paul operated – and thank the Lord for that.

Alright, now I’ve talked a whole lot about how awesome Paul was in Christ.  I’ve heard plenty of seminars where the lecturer says “Don’t tell people they should be like folks in the Bible.”  And that’s true; I’m not telling you to be Paul.  In fact, I’m not even telling you to tell you to lay down your life for God; because Jesus tells you that much in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”  God expects you to go full Paul in life.  But I know that it’s almost impossible to do so.  What I am suggesting to you is that you focus a little less on yourself and a bit more on Christ and let him slowly take over in your life.  As John the Baptist said of him vs. Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).  I think that’s just about as good of a mantra as any of us could follow.

Advertisements

2 comments on “Priorities

  1. Steve Finnell
    February 13, 2017

    IS THE GOSPEL IRRELEVANT? by steve finnell

    If the five points of Calvinism are true, then preaching the gospel is irrelevant.

    FIVE POINTS

    1.Calvin’s Total Depravity

    If it is impossible for anyone to choose or desire God, then the gospel would be irrelevant.

    Mark 1:14-15 … Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”(NKJV)
    2 Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.(NKJV)

    If the gospel was irrelevant why would Jesus preach the gospel and then condemn men for not believing?

    Calvin’s total depravity is perversion of the truth.

    2. Calvin’s Unconditional Election

    If God, by His election, chooses some individuals for salvation and all other are lost, then preaching the gospel would be irrelevant.

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek. (NKJV)

    If men attain salvation by Calvin’s view of unconditional election, then God’s power to salvation through the preaching of gospel would be powerless.

    Calvin’s unconditional election, is a total misunderstanding of the gospel.

    3.Calvin’s Limited Atonement

    If Jesus only died for those unconditional elected, then preaching the gospel would be irrelevant.

    Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.(NKJV)

    Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by grace of God, might taste death for everyone.(NKJV)

    Calvin’s limited atonement is at odds with the inspired writer of Hebrews. Jesus died for all men.

    4. Irresistible Grace

    If Calvin’s elect cannot resist the gospel call given by the Holy Spirit, then, the gospel is irrelevant.

    Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (NKJV)

    Men do resist the Holy Spirit, contrary to the teaching of John Calvin.

    Acts 5:32 “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God gives those who obey.(NKJV)

    The Holy Spirit does not cause men to believe the gospel. The Holy Spirit is given to those “who” obey the gospel. (Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)(NKJV)

    5. Perseverance of the Saints

    If men do not believe the first four points of John Calvin’s T.U.L.I.P., then, perseverance of the saints AKA once saved always saved is void of consideration.

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is NOT irrelevant

    John Calvin’s five points are not only irrelevant, but they are a perversion of the gospel of Jesus the Christ.

    Mark 16:16 “He who believes and has been baptized will be saved….(NKJV)

    Jesus would not tell the world to believe and be baptized in order to be saved and then send some to hell, who supposedly are not saved because of John Calvin’s false gospel of Unconditional Election.

    THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS NOT IRRELEVANT!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG>> steve-finnell-blogspot.com

    • The Layman
      February 14, 2017

      Hey Steve, long time no see! 🙂

      I’m glad the Lord has us in agreement that the gospel and preaching thereof is of paramount importance.

      May the Lord bless your ministry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on February 11, 2017 by in Bible Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: