Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
What do you think of when you hear the name Saul? What about Paul? Is there a difference? Saul was to his Christian contemporaries, the epitome of evil. "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." Acts 8:1-3 What do we know about Saul? He was born in Tarsus, in Celicia - 22:3, a Hebrew of Hebrews - 16:37, educated in Jerusalem by no less than Gamaliel ( like a Jedi being trained by Yoda himself) 22:3, was a devoted Pharisee, 26:4-5, and by every "worldly standard", blameless - Phil 3:6. He was a promising character on the way to prominence in the accepted religion of the day, and he had a reputation - see Ananias in chapter 9. He was zealous in his persecution of and hatred for, anything Christian. He sincerely believed he was doing God a favor. Nugget: He obeyed the light that he had. Well come back to that. Let's turn the Spiritual Switch, and talk about good vs evil. Everyone struggles with these questions - "If God is all powerful, and hates evil, then He is impotent to remove it, as it exists." or "If God created everything, and evil exists, then He can't be all good." Hitler, the self proclaimed pagan, said: "Christianity is the illegitimate child of the Jews." What is evil? Is it a cancer? a parasite? The Bible often calls evil "darkness". Is it a temptation of God? Not according to James 1:13-16. And even if evil is not a what, couldn't God do away with it? The answer to that is in 2nd Peter 3:8-9. Why then does God allow evil? 1) To Glorify Himself. Absent evil, how could He deliver you? Give you grace? manifest Himself? Display His great mercy, show His love, (Romans 5:8). In short, all the great attributes of God are manifest contrasting --- Evil. 2) to Conform us to His likeness: see Romans 8:29 Without evil, we could not display mercy, grace, forgiveness, love - even for our enemies, unselfishness, generosity, self control, meekness or patience. And 3) What would we be saved from if not for evil? Make no mistake, God has and will deal with evil, but just occasionally, He makes evil good - Eph. 2:1-4. What about you? Has God given you (like Saul) a new name? Do not be deceived, Saul was certain he was heaven bound due to his affiliation with the accepted Church of the day. Then he met Jesus.