LESSON 9 31/1/2016
PAUL, THE FIREBRAND EVANGELIST
Suggested Hymn: G.H.B. 27, 260
Devotional Reading: 1 COR. 9: 1-17
Topic For Adults: From A Persecutor To An Evangelist
Topic For Youths: Your Past Is Not An Hindrance
Topic For Intermediates: God Can Use You
Scripture Lessons: Rom. 1:1-6; Eph. 1: 1- 14; Acts 20:17-38; 2 Cor 11: 25-33; Acts 18:1-10
MEMORY VERSE: Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. Acts 20:26 (NKJV)
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Paul: A Relationship Builder
Acts 20: 31-38
In a farewell message of Apostle Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he reminded them of how diligently he had labored among them for the space of three years, both in the word and in his tent-making trade. Paul worked conscientiously to support himself in the ministry as well as the weak in the church. He demonstrated industry, diligence, and self-control including building relationship with other believers through fellowships and caring. He had love and care for the Church. He even cried over their needs. They had prayed together and comforted one another. What a strong bond Apostle Paul had established with the Ephesian Church. This was why the Elders became sorrowful over his leaving. Someone had rightly said that no one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care. Beloved, until people begin to see how empathic and caring you are, your teaching and preaching may not produce the expected results.
Point of Emphasis: The knowledge of God you have should translate into genuine love and care for others.
Prayer Point: Lord, give me the heart to love others dearly.
As God’s children, nothing else can undermine the profession of our faith other than a lack of godly character. A man who is highly anointed and charismatic may gather crowds in no time, but it takes a man of godly character to keep, nourish, and nurture them up to the fullness of Christ’s stature, whereby they become rapturable at His return. In this week lesson, we shall consider some of the godly characters that endeared Apostle Paul to the hearts of the early church, which made him to succeed in the ministry.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PARTS 1: PAUL’S MINISTRY AND TEACHINGS (ROM. 1:1-6; EPH. 1: 1- 14)
Paul’s encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus marked a turning point in his life. It was the beginning of the fulfilment of God’s purpose for his life. Earlier in his conversion, the Lord had told Ananias how greatly Paul would bear His name among the gentiles, the kings, as well as the children of Israel (Acts 9:15, 16). Consequently, he was ordained as an apostle by the Lord to preach the gospel of salvation. This was in retrospect to what became the first missionary journey of Apostle Paul. While the disciples were fasting and praying at Antioch Church (Acts 13:1), the Holy Spirit had singled out Paul and Barnabas onto the ministry for which he was ordained. Hence, Paul was able to declare to the brethren at Rome and at Corinth that his call was by the will of God – 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1.
Paul had alluded to the prophets and the law as foreshadow of the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, being made manifest in this dispensation, as the only divine arrangement for the remission of sins. He had maintained that the Jews as well as the gentiles need to accept Christ and confess Him as their Lord and Saviour, in order to have their sins forgiven. The Bible says only those who accept Him (Jesus Christ) are given the privilege to become sons and daughters of God (John 1: 11, 12). Christians need to be grateful to God for the privilege to become joint heirs with Jesus Christ through our relationship with Him. One of the ways to demonstrate our gratitude is by showing the light of the gospel to those that are still alienated from God through sin.
Apostle Paul recognised the work of Trinity in the redemption of the human race – Rom. 8:15; 3:24; Acts 2:38. In the above text, Paul declared to the Ephesian church that God’s will is set forth in Christ Jesus, and revealed to us by His Spirit. This implies that for you to know God’s will for your life, you must accept Jesus Christ and be ready to surrender your will to that of the Holy Spirit.
God used Apostle Paul to establish many churches and to mentor leaders who eventually took over the leadership of those Churches – 1 Tim.4: 6-16; Titus 1: 5-16. Moreover, about 14 books of the New Testament were putatively written by Apostle Paul. All you need do is to surrender yourself to God and you will be amazed at what He will make of you.
PART 2: PAUL’S CHARACTER (ACTS 20:17-38; 2 COR 11: 25-33)
Apostle Paul exhibited a lot of godly characters and virtues that are worth emulating. He gave himself whole heartedly to God’s work and lived a life of sacrifice. He became a fire-brand Evangelist almost immediately after his conversion, enduring various oppositions from within the Christian fold and from without. The Jews opposed him frequently, often stirring up riots, throwing him in prison, getting help from the local authorities in persecuting Paul and his companions. Yet, he was not detracted or discouraged. Paul had to persevere in order to overcome the Jewish cynicisms, who were seeking to subvert the hearts of the people from believing the gospel of the Lord Jesus (Acts 13:47; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Acts 20:24).
Apostle Paul also demonstrated humility and genuine love for the brethren. Oftentimes, he associated with them in their challenges (Acts 17:16, 20:22; Rom. 9:3), and showed a high level of self-control and contentment in the ministry (Acts 16:19-31; Phil.4:11-13; 2 Cor. 11:23-29). Other godly virtues that can be seen in Paul’s life are boldness, industry, diligence, commitment, and integrity (cf Acts 9: 29; 18:1-3; 1 Cor.4:12; 1 Thess. 2:9). In addition, Apostle Paul was a prayerful leader who always allowed himself to be led by the Spirit of God. Paul told the Ephesians elders that he did not shrink in declaring to the church anything that was profitable. This means that apostle Paul was always apt to teach the word of God, preach and to encourage others. This was evident in his encounter with Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos.
PART 3: PAUL’S MINISTRY AND THE TENT-MAKING TRADE (ACTS 18:1-10)
In addition to the heavy ministerial schedule of Apostle Paul, he was involved in tent making because he was a tent-maker by trade. Paul continually practised his trade as he moved from one location to another so as to be able to support himself financially in the ministry. He also supported the church and the weak members with the proceeds from his tent-making business – Acts 20: 34, 35. Paul could have lived on the gospel i.e. the contributions from church brethren, which is not wrong, as can be seen in 2 Cor. 9: 13, 14. The Bible states that those who proclaim the gospel should live by the gospel. However, according to Paul, he decided not to be a burden to the church but rather worked with his own hands – 1 Thess. 9:9-12. Paul was trying to set an example of self-discipline and integrity to the church and especially to those who would later assume leadership positions not to use them as occasion to oppress and extort the church.
When apostle Paul got a report from the brethren at Thessalonica about those who perhaps misconstrued his earlier epistle on the iminence of the Lord’s return and began to lazy about, and thus becoming burdensome on the church, he advised that all members’ need to work so that they can support themselves and the church of God – 2Thess. 3: 6 -13. By this, the church will have enough to support those who are needy indeed. Very profound lessons can be learned from the life of Apostle Paul here: he was industrious, he was disciplined, he had the spirit of contentment, and he was full of love and compassion for the members of the church. Unlike what is obtainable in many denominations today, Apostle Paul was a good shepherd. Someone had succinctly described the situation by saying that, “the good shepherds feed the sheep while the hirelings feast on the sheep”.
You can help your local church to grow numerically by getting involved in evangelism, by praying for the church, and by giving to support the evangelistic efforts of others. None of these is less important than the others. And remember that godly character is everything to a child of God. In fact, it is superior to anointing and charisma. Apostle Paul was an epitome of godly character.
- Describe how Paul became an apostle.
- What was the focus of Apostle Paul’s message to the gentiles and the Jews?
- Mention at least five characters that helped Paul to succeed in his ministry.
- How would you describe the act of Paul supporting the church with his tent-making trade?
- Mention the ways in which you can help your Church to grow numerically.