Tag Archives: Paul

The worst of sinners make the best of saints

wretch of sin

John Newton was a wicked man, a slave trader. But a severe storm off the coast of Ireland brought him to his knees and conversion. Years later, the wretch showed his gift. He penned the words to the most-loved Christian hymn, Amazing Grace. Behind the evil, there was a calling, a destiny and talent.

Paul persecuted the church. Aside from Satan, he was probably the early church’s #1 enemy. Then he met Jesus on the road to Damascas. He became the gospel chief propagandist and most avid evangelizer. He wrote the greatest defense and explication of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone in the book of Romans.

Are you rotten today? Salvation is a circuit breaker. We are broken by sin, but with the simplest of prayers, the light comes on in our lives. Then all the good we were destined to bring to this world begins to flow out.

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Dumb faith

Sarah laughed at Abraham. A generation mocked Noah. No doubt, the other prisons gaped incredulously at Paul and Silas as they sang hymns while their fresh wounds dripped blood. These were all dumb to believe.

Lord, give us dumb faith. Grant us to believe — in the face of scorn.

Of course, there’s a difference between “dumb faith” and just being unwise. Grant us the ability to know the difference. Without balancing this teaching, I want to extol “dumb” faith.

Sarah gave birth at 90 years of age. Her laughter of unbelief turned into laughter of joy. Noah spent 100 years building an ark and telling people the reason why was that it was going to rain and flood the Earth. It had never rained previously. The Earth was watered a mist that covered the land. No wonder they didn’t believe him. He was dumb to believe.

Paul and Silas look out of their minds. Their wounds evidently hurt. And they’re there singing away happily. Did they appear to be drugged up?

Dumb faith is the answer to ministry’s greatest frustrations. It keeps you giving up hope, when any “reasonable” person could see clearly. When finances lack and obligations loom, dumb faith gets the miracle of money. When challenges are staggering, dumb faith keeps you from despair. It is quiet and childlike.

So let others laugh. You are good company — in company of Biblical heroes. They believed when it appeared to be dumb to believe.

Sabotage on faith

The devil is constantly sabotaging your faith. In war, sabotage means attacking infrastructure to disrupt and derail normal operations. Industries are blown up. Communication lines are cut. Transport is bombed. Satan’s constant barrage on your mind and life will kill your faith — if you let it.

Such is the story of Elymas. Paul testified to Sergius Paulus, a proconsul on Paphos Island. But his counselor resisted the evangelization. Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. — Acts 13:8. Paul rebuked the sorcerer, and God blinded him. Subsequently, Sergius Paulus believed.

Elymas is alive and well today. He circles like a tiger looking for the opportunity to strike and slay your faith.

What is surprising in verse 6. There we see this witch masqueraded under the name “Bar-Jesus,” which means “Son of Jesus.” It is possible he had heard about Jesus’ powers and used this name to bloat his reputation. But in truth, he was a Satanist.

What does this mean for us today? It means that some of the very people who call themselves Christians will be those who undermine your faith. Make your faith grow in the Word and in prayer. And be careful about advice given that sabotages faith.