Who in the history of Christianity had a more wounded past than the apostle Paul? This was a man who, by his own confessions, profited and fully participated in the Jewish religion. In the name of his religion Paul, known at the time as Saul of Tarsus, took his religion to the point of murder of Christians (Acts 9:1). Saul of Tarsus was famous in the areas he traveled and lived for his sins and transgressions. Then one day, something happened. On a road trip to Damascus, with a mission of persecuting those foolish enough to call Jesus Christ the Messiah, Saul became Paul. In a full showing of His power, Christ knocked Saul to his knees, blinding him to the world around Him, and called Saul into question for his sins.
Saul, in the coming days, became the great man we today know as Paul, the greatest Christian missionary to travel this Earth. After the incident on the road to Damascus, Paul accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and accepted the gift of having his past sins washed away through baptism (Acts 9:18). As one reads the remaining chapters of the New Testament, we become aware of the fact that Paul set forth with his new liberty and salvation to proclaim the gospel to the world. Let us not forget the boldness that Paul proclaimed the truth in either.
How rare is it to find men willing to boldly call the world and those who refuse Christ out today. We read Paul’s letters to the churches he helped to found and we do not see Paul putting his kid’s gloves on when stating fact. There is no need to. Paul realized that the truth that Christ proclaimed enabled him to state with fearlessness what is truly the core of problems in the world. Surely there were those, even those who Paul was speaking directly to, who did not know how to process the truth that Paul proclaimed. I can imagine there was anger and disdain, that this man, this former slaughterer of Christians, would think he have the nerve to proclaim right from wrong to them. Yet, Paul did not stop.
Paul’s gutty proclamation of the gospel and against false teaching would be, and is (research the New Perspectives on Paul) viewed as short-sighted and incorrect in today’s world. In today’s world, Paul would be looked at as someone who should maybe just sit on the sidelines and simply sit in church. After all, look at his past. The world would write things about Paul, questioning his past and asking who does he think he is. In today’s world, there would be fellow Christians who would possibly avoid Paul or even worse, when Paul came under persecution, would say nothing to verify the truth that Paul proclaimed. We know from the opening chapters of Galatians, that Paul even then stood mostly alone and that the men corrupting Paul’s church questioned Paul’s place in the Christian kingdom.
Today though, those of us convinced of the scripture’s status of the only truth, look at Paul as a great man. The past that might be called into question is used to proclaim and ultimately prove the saving power of the gospel. We can learn a great deal from Paul today, especially those of us who maybe have been saved from lives that routed us directly to Hell. Paul never ran from his past and was the first to remind others of his standing as not only a sinner, but the chief (first) of sinners. Despite his wounded past though, Paul never shirked at the opportunity to state the truth. What a great example for us.