Jim Woodell
Director of John 3:17 Ministry
Remmel Church
Newport, AR 72112

Paul was the greatest of the Apostles.  That is if you judge him by the number of books bearing his name in the New Testament canon.  He was a champion of grace.  Several times he pointed out that, it is not works that saves you (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9), but grace.  However, he also wrote that Christians ought to be about the work of God (1 Corinthians 15:58). He “abounded” in God’s work.

You cannot read much from the writings of Paul before you realize that he was a sacrificial offering to God Almighty!  If you have not read 1 Corinthians 11:23-27 lately, please do!  Imprisoned, flogged, exposed to death, whipped with almost 200 lashes, beaten with rods, stoned, involved in three ship wrecks, spent a night and day in the open sea, constantly moving, subjected to all kinds of danger from rivers, from bandits, from his own countrymen, from Gentiles, and false brothers.  He “labored and toiled and often went without sleep.” He knew what it is like to be hungry and thirsty and to be cold and naked.   Even after all of this, he wrote in the Philippians 3, “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” He was not depending on his works for salvation.

Paul said, “We carry around in our body the death of Jesus…”  What a testimony! What was Paul’s secret? Why did he suffer such harm and sacrifice?  He wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  From his Damascus road experience until his death Paul was filled with wonder and amazement when he considered Jesus of Nazareth.   He was motivated by his personal experience with the Christ who was raised from the dead, and the fact that others needed to know what he knew.  Others need to experience the same relationship with Christ that he was experiencing.

Paul gave up religion for a relationship with Jesus (Philippians 3:1-11). Am I missing something? I am challenged by this one man’s sacrificial life. Do I have religion or a relationship with Christ? What about those that I fellowship with today? What’s missing? Could it be the wonder of amazement?