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Paul's Years of Ministry
PAUL was an unwearied worker. He traveled constantly from place to place, sometimes
through inhospitable regions, sometimes on the water, through storm and tempest. He
allowed nothing to hinder him from doing his work. He was the servant of God and must
carry out His will. By word of mouth and by letter he bore a message that ever since has
brought help and strength to the church of God. To us, living at the close of this earth's
history, the message that he bore speaks plainly of the dangers that will threaten the
church, and of the false doctrines that the people of God will have to meet.
From country to country and from city to city Paul went, preaching of Christ and
establishing churches. Wherever he could find a hearing, he labored to counterwork error
and to turn the feet of men and women into the path of right. Those who by his labors in
any place were led to accept Christ, he organized into a church. No matter how few in
number they might be, this was done. And Paul did not forget the churches thus
established. However small a church might be, it was the object of his care and interest.
Paul's calling demanded of him service of varied kinds--working with his hands to earn his
living, establishing churches, writing letters to the churches already established. Yet in
the midst of these varied labors he declared, "This one thing I do." (Phil.
3:13.) One aim he kept steadfastly before him in all his work--to be faithful to Christ,
who, when he was blaspheming His name and using every means in his power to make others
blaspheme it, had revealed Himself to him. The one great purpose of his life was to serve
and honor Him whose name had once filled him with contempt. His one desire was to win
souls to the Saviour. Jew and Gentile might oppose and persecute him, but nothing could
turn him from his purpose.
Paul Reviews His Experience
Writing to the Philippians, he describes his experience before and after his conversion.
"If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh," he
says, "I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of
Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal,
persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."
After his conversion his testimony was: "Yea verily, and I count all things to be
loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the
loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in
Him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which
is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith." Phil. 3:8,
The righteousness that heretofore he had thought of so much worth was now worthless in his
sight. The longing of his soul was: "That I may know Him, and the power of His
resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;
if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had
already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend
that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren I count not myself to have
apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:10-14.
An Adaptable Worker
See him in the dungeon at Philippi, where, despite his pain-racked body, his song of
praise breaks the silence of midnight. After the earthquake has opened the prison doors,
his voice is again heard, in words of cheer to the heathen jailer, "Do thyself no
harm: for we are all here"--every man in his place, restrained by the presence of one
fellow prisoner. And the jailer, convicted of the reality of that faith which sustains
Paul, inquires the way of salvation, and with his whole household unites with the
persecuted band of Christ's disciples.
See Paul at Athens before the council of the Areopagus, as he meets science with science,
logic with logic, and philosophy with philosophy. Mark how, with the tact born of divine
love, he points to Jehovah as the "Unknown God," whom his hearers have
ignorantly worshiped; and in words quoted from a poet of their own, he pictures Him as a
Father whose children they are. Hear him, in that age of caste, when the rights of man as
man were wholly unrecognized, as he sets forth the great truth of human brotherhood,
declaring that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the
face of the earth." Then he shows how, through all the dealings of God with man, run
like a thread of gold His purposes of grace and mercy. He "hath determined the times
before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if
haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of
Hear him in the court of Festus, when King Agrippa, convicted of the truth of the gospel,
exclaims, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." With what gentle
courtesy does Paul, pointing to his own chain, make answer, "I would to God, that not
only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I
am, except these bonds."
Thus passed his life, as described in his own words, "in journeyings often, in perils
of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the
heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in
perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." 2 Cor. 11:26, 27.
"Being reviled," he said, "we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being
defamed, we intreat"; "as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making
many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." 1 Cor. 4:12, 13; 2 Cor.
Ministry in Bonds
Although he was a prisoner for a great length of time, yet the Lord carried forward His
special work through him. His bonds were to be the means of spreading the knowledge of
Christ and thus glorifying God. As he was sent from city to city for his trial, his
testimony concerning Jesus and the interesting incidents of his own conversion were
related before kings and governors, that they should be left without excuse concerning
Jesus. Thousands believed on Him and rejoiced in His name.
I saw that God's special purpose was fulfilled in the journey of Paul upon the sea; He
designed that the ship's crew might thus witness the power of God through Paul, and that
the heathen also might hear the name of Jesus, and that many might be converted through
the teaching of Paul and by witnessing the miracles he wrought. Kings and governors were
charmed by his reasoning, and as with zeal and the power of the Holy Spirit he preached
Jesus and related the interesting events of his experience, conviction fastened upon them
that Jesus was the Son of God.
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