You are on page 1of 9

Paul: World Changer I have for many years studied what happens when God personally reaches into

earths history. For when God reaches into history, the results have always been dramatic: affecting nations, people, culture, wars, peace, and how men and women understand God. God events such as the Tower of Babel, the Flood, Exodus from Egypt, Battle for Jericho, , and most importantly the Birth of Jesus, demonstrate the significant influence by God on this world. When I read about these God events in the scripture, there are three stages: first a prelude or setting the stage to the God event, second the God event itself, and finally actions by the recipients of the God event. We as worshippers of God should be seeking to understand God events and when we do so we can know what can happen as a result of these God events! The prelude to God events is interesting to look at and reflect upon. In every case, the stage gets appropriately set for a revelation concerning the nature of God. As the people rebel, break covenants, listen to God, and even reject God, God reaches into the specific circumstances and begins to orchestrate the circumstances. In Babel, man rejected the leading of God, gathered together into one place; in the flood, man sought his own way only, ignoring the will of God, yet there was a man called Noah. In Exodus, man served under a human king unable to fulfill the covenant, yet there was Moses off stage. In Jericho, the people feared God, yet there was Rahab, and in Bethlehem Jesus foresaked heaven, yet there was Mary and Joseph. Of course the God event itself is interesting. God in a sense abdicates his throne and somehow enters into mans history causing an event that is discernable by man. God allows the event to reveal just a bit more concerning His eternal being and man then knows just a little more about the God he worships. In Babel, God reveals that He desires man to rely on His provision and knowledge. In the Flood story, God reveals that He is a God judgment, yet mercy. In the Exodus story, God reveals that he is a covenant keeping God, never breaking His promises. In the Jericho, God reveals that He desires the first fruits to be dedicated to Him. In the birth of Jesus, God reveals He is a God of wonder

and grace. For each of the times mentioned and others, God reaches into our history. The people to be touched by the God event have been moving into place in a diorama against which God can reveal additional attributes of His nature and grace. God uses people on the stage of life moving steadily towards a specific God event and then the world changes. Finally, the God event can cause significant cultural, economic, religious, people, nation and world changes. In Babel, the nations were created and the people scattered to populate the earth. In the flood, the world was destroyed and a new world started. In Exodus, a nation that desired to worship God was created. In Jericho, the line of Jesus was preserved through a heathen woman, and in Bethlehem the world changed with the birth of a baby. Today, I want to look at a God event type that when combined with the wonderful reality of Jesus birth literally shakes the world. But as I mentioned already, we should first look at the circumstances preceding the God event. To do that, lets look at an artistic rendering of a man whose time has come on the stage of history.

Show DVD
Here we see Saul displayed as a man of action, determination, and power. These action scenes are important as they attempt to show setting of the stage for a specific God event. Later in Sauls life, a self portrait of Saul is seen in Philippians 4:3-6 when Saul/Paul describes how he viewed himself. Paul claims that he considered himself to be a Pharisee of Pharisees. He claims that he is a pure blood of Benjamin; maintaining the strictest of obedience to the law; a zealot for the law, never accused of fault. Can we gain a better understanding of what Paul was saying about himself? We know from written reports from the time that the Pharisees were powerful men who ruled Jerusalem and the Temple complex under the Roman conquerors rule. They kept the people under subjection in order to retain the trust of the Roman Proconsul. Historically we also know that they were in many ways just as ruthless as the Romans. This is the man that is posed

at a precipice of history, ready for an encounter with God. From the worlds point of view, he seems successful. He has Roman citizenship; he is part of Jerusalems ruling class; he has gain favor with that ruling class due to his manner concerning the Christians, and he has been appointed to perform actions for the ruling class. As a Pharisee Saul has wealth and he has authority. But what did Jesus say about these men of the ruling class. Jesus called them a brood of vipers, a wicked and perverse generation. Jesus sees through the worldly veneer of the Pharisees and proclaims them to be something else. I wonder at this time, how many of us have a veneer of worldly success and power? Are our works and desires preventing us for attending to the ministry that God has called us to perform in Jesus? Hold that though for a bit as we continue to look at Sauls life experience, especially when Saul encounters Jesus. When Saul experiences Jesus, many of us have heard the basic story. Saul has received authority to persecute the followers of Jesus. He is eager to get there and begin his assigned task. On the way to Damascus, he encounters the one that he has been persecuting Jesus. It is important to realize that Saul, a self proclaimed zealot of Pharisaic authority, meets Gods truth as manifested in Jesus. The totally perfect one is no longer a suffering servant, but Jesus has reclaimed that which He had formerly forsaken when he became a babe and entered into history as a man. When Saul experiences Jesus, it is as if the glory of God had returned to the Jewish tabernacle. Sauls reaction is predictable; he cowers in fear, falling down to worship the Lord of the Universe. Saul knows immediately that he is in the midst of a God event; Saul is experiencing God through Jesus. What happens next is the true miracle of the God event. Paul basically loses sight of everything that he has know was sure for his whole life. The physical lose of his eyesight is important, but I feel that poor Saul was also going through some radical transformation. Everything he held dear was totally turned upside down.

No longer was he a man of authority; no longer was he able to carry out the role of a Pharisee zealot; and longer could he state that he was in control. Sauls entire social and cultural understanding was turned on its head, because he had an experience of Jesus: a God event. Remember, how I stated earlier that God events create changes; that these events transform cultures, people, and history. Due to this specific God event of Saul meeting Jesus, Saul, became Paul. Paul began to learn more and more about Jesus. As Paul learned more concerning Jesus, he began to establish churches, he went on missionary trips, and he sought out others who needed to experience the same Jesus that Paul had experienced. What were the results! The proclamation of the gospel to the non-Jewish world was initiated by Paul. Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, even Spain, Africa, and Britain felt his personal imprimatur as he traveled around the known world. It was Paul that aided in the migration of the apostles from Jerusalem to the entire world, when he reported that he was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. While Peter, John and other apostles have writings in the New Testament, it is Pauls writings and letters that comprise the majority of the New Testament. In so many ways, Paul changed the world. Francis Schaffer, a late 20th century philosopher and theologian has contended that the Christianity that grew out of Pauls work had more to do with the overall development of Western civilization than any other social or cultural event during the time from the Roman Empire until today. How was Paul able to accomplish such a world change? Was he a super man that did not sleep at night and was able to be in multiple places at one time? What enabled him to be able to do so well? If we look into the life of Paul after the God event, we can begin to see what it takes to be a world changer. What did Paul do that made him a world changer? If we study the events immediately after the God event, we see some preparation actions:

a. b.

Prayer and fasting Acts 9:8-9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. Accepted prayer for himself Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

c. d. e. f.

Baptism Acts 9:18 He got up and was baptized Fellowship with other Christians Acts 9:19 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. Proclaiming the gospel Acts 9:20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. Speaking boldly Acts 9:28 speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

These formed the parameters for the ministry of Paul. As we read about Paul in the rest of the New Testament, we continually find these foundational pillars in Pauls ministerial life. These foundations are important to what Paul accomplished; however, there remains one item. That one item is encompassed in the word GO. In the second reading today, we see Paul reacting to the word GO. Only because Paul was willing to obey and reach out to the world around him, was he able to become the world changer that he became. Notice what occurred here with Paul. Paul has a dream: During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And immediately: After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10). Paul has a sense of urgency, concerning the delivery of the gospel. He is driven to spread the good news about Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul went, because he had to GO. The foundational pillars combined with the urgency of going combined together to make him a world changer.

Paul was a world changer, because, he knew what to do based on his specific God event. He prepared, went, and became a world changer. By now you might be saying, that is fine for Paul, but Paul was called by God to be a world changer. Before I address that, lets look at another world changer, this time a woman by a well. We know the story and if you desire you can turn to John 4:1-30 to follow along. Again we have a person entering onto the stage where a God event is going to occur. Here is a woman coming to a well for water in the middle of the day. Jesus is there waiting for His disciples to come back with some food from the village. Why is she coming in the middle of the day? Where are the other women in the village? It is simple. The woman is hiding from the other women. She has come when the other women of the village would be back at home tending to their daily tasks, for in the middle of the day, the sun is hot. The time for getting water was in the morning, not in the middle of the day. The reason that she is hiding from the other women is her recognition that she is living in sin and she does not desire to receive any verbal abuse from these women. Her sin is that she has had many husbands and the one she is living with is not her husband. Socially, this woman is an outcast. And yet, she is on the threshold of a God event through the man Jesus. The event of meeting Jesus at this well has many potential meanings and we could in fact spend much time here discussing some interesting concepts concerning worship, but what I desire to focus on is the event and what happens afterward. Notice that the stage is set. The womans history and current status is not in accord with Gods desire. She comes to the well and has a God event in her life. She talks with Jesus and after the discussion, she acknowledges Jesus as a prophet. Indeed, she ultimately acknowledges Him as Lord and Savior. She then begins to react in some of the same ways as Paul did with his God event.

a. b. c.

She went quickly Acts 4:28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, She boldly proclaimed the gospel Acts 4:28 "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" She went - Acts 4:28 "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

Many may say that this does not portray a world changer, while in reality; these types of people are the must effective. The reason that I can say that her God event caused a world change is her ministry allowed the Samarians to easily accept the ministry of Philip at a later date. In Acts 8:5-25, we see Philip proclaiming the gospel in Samaria and many accept the witness. Later Peter and John come and observe the work that is happening in the land of Samaria and upon leaving the main town they preached the gospel to many villages and towns in Samaria. A significant world change had occurred in Samaria for prior to this time, the Jew and Samaritans would not have even talked to one another much less allow the spreading of the gospel. How did this happen? I contend that it was the God event of the woman at the well meeting and understanding more about God through the man Jesus. The woman at the well became a world changer. What about the world changer sitting next to you? Yes, we can be world changers just as the woman at the well or Paul. Listen to the following song: Song The Three Crosses When I first heard this song I assumed that the minister was the survivor, not the hooker. Remember, from the beginning, I have stated that God events are set in a stage whereby the person is thrust onto the stage that provides a venue for the God event to occur. The world changer in this song was the hooker, as she through the minister experienced a God event of salvation and grace. The world was totally changed for this woman of the night. She experienced God and the world is not the same. God events change people and when that happens, we just need to follow the path set before us as we change the world. As

United Methodist Church members, All members are called to discover with the help of the community, the gifts they have received and to use them for the building up of the church and for service of the world to which the church is sent. You never know how or what you are doing will impact the world. Jacob Cosehie was a drug dealer in Singapore with one driving goal: to have as much money as possible. This ambition was what drove him to drugs and gambling. He eventually became the drug lord of an international smuggling ring. In 1980 he was arrested and placed into a drug rehabilitation prison. Frustrated beyond endurance, all of his desires and dreams were locked up with him in a tiny cell. His heart was full of emptiness. He was a smoker, but cigarettes were not allowed in the prison. He smuggled in some tobacco and used the pages of a Gideon Bible to roll his cigarettes. One night he fell asleep while smoking and awoke to see the cigarette had burned out. All that remained was a scrap of small paper, which he unrolled and read what was written. He read, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? Jacob asked for another Bible and read the story about Sauls conversion and realized that if Jesus could help someone like Saul, God could help him too. There in his cell he knelt and prayed; asking Jesus to come into his life and change him. He began to cry and could not stop. The tears of a wasted life washed away his pain and God redeemed him. Jacob had had a God event. He began to share his story with other prisoners, and as soon as he was released, he joined a church. He is now married and serving as a missionary in the Far East. He tells everyone, Who would believe that I could have found the truth by smoking the word of God. Again, I see the same set of a prelude and setting of the stage, the actual God event, and then actions by the recipient of the God event. In every case the God event caused an action by the recipient. In every case a primary action was to GO. Know that your God event can have just as significant impact on the world, but just like Paul, we need to act on our God experience. How many of us are willing to go as Paul, Philip, the Samarian woman, or the hooker and drug lord? How many of us have a veneer that prevents us from accepting and acting on the God event we each can experience? God is waiting for you with a God event and is willing to meet use where we are as we worship God. Are

you one of the Paul: World Changers needed for the church in this day and time? The altars are open to those that desire to spend time with Jesus as we sing Hymn 593 in the Red book.