Paul's ReligionBro. David Chancellor
1/21/2001 11:00 AM
Saul's religion changed when he became the apostle Paul. Some things changed, and some things did not. We would follow Paul's example, but not Saul's. Saul/Paul was zealous towards God even before he found God. Just because people are zealous toward God doesn't mean they know him. Saul was taught the Jewish religion and knew the positions of the scribes and Pharisees. He was zealous of what had been handed down to him from the ones that went before.
Saul persecuted the church of God because he was zealous of the Jewish religion and thought the church of God was attacking that. In the gospel day, there were reformations, but not long after there were people that didn't hold it anymore. We should be concerned that we don't find ourselves going this route. Are we "zealous of the traditions of our fathers" but lacking what they had? God has something greater than "the traditions of our fathers." Paul had something lacking and tried to make up for that by being more zealous. Hard work alone will not bring the smile of God. Saul persecuted the church in hopes that God would smile. All our good works won't bring us that which is needed in our soul. Paul found something different. He found God himself. We will never enjoy what God has for us, until we find God and become acquainted with him.
Paul describes how things were with him before. The Pharisees were endeavoring to bring back and establish the "old paths." Saul was trying to get it back like before and get God's smile. When it was all done - he didn't feel and know what he found later on the road to Damascus. When Christ forgave his sins there was nothing between him and God anymore. Paul wrote all the other things off so as to be personally acquainted with God. Saul was working to somehow please God; Paul said, "I KNOW him!" You won't make it to heaven by somehow trying to work to please God. You have to come to KNOW Christ. When this happens Christ becomes your friend. Have you ever done something with a friend and you can see the friend is uncomfortable in the situation? You won't put that friend in the situation again. Knowing Christ as a friend influences where you go and what you do. It isn't a LAW that says so. We would not want to do anything to displease or hurt Christ. Some would maintain traditions, but not know God. We need to know him as our friend and Savior. Through Christ we can come to KNOW God. We can do those things that please God.
Isaiah 29:13, 14
These had a zeal, but they were far from God. We don't want our thoughts to be wrapped up in the "precepts of men." It is one thing to know there is a God, but it is different to KNOW God. These were wrapped up in what they had been taught but did not know God. Abraham, Jacob, Moses - knew God. We don't want the relationship - "Tell the preacher, God, and I'll be happy." Take a look at the denominational world today. There was a great reformation but a denomination is what is left over. Those that came behind did not have what the reformer had. We must be careful to find God and know him. Methodists today do not have what the Wesley's had. Knowledge of precepts won't deliver what a personal acquaintance with God will.
Paul desired that Israel find what he found. He didn't question their zeal, but proposed that they find God. A right motivation without God won't work. We need a personal relationship with God. We do what we do - toward God and others - because he is our friend. The doing doesn't bring the life; having God does. It is not a religion of works, but of being acquainted with God. Knowing God will bring good works.
As you have received Christ, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him, stablished in the faith. Men have some philosophies that would take you back to the traditions of men. God is found through Christ, by being acquainted with God. He can be our friend and we can be complete in him. A man without Jesus is a man with something missing. It has to be personal between us and God.