Speaking Truth With Faith And Grace
Why did Paul spend his life proclaiming Jesus, teaching believers how to follow Him, and getting into so much trouble for doing so? The church in Corinth was immature, and often rejected Paul's apostolic role. Although he founded the church and stayed teaching there for at least eighteen months (Acts 18:11), other preachers came. Peter and Apollos had godly motives (1 Corinthians 1:12), but false teachers also infiltrated the church as 'servants of Satan' (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). What compelled these teachers to speak, and which were true? Some sought money or praise, others were power-hungry people-manipulators. But Paul was not like that at all.
Paul likened himself to the writer of Psalm 116:10 who said, "I believed, therefore I spoke". The psalmist is a godly man hounded by liars, being almost overcome by physical and mental distress. Yet, he dared to speak out to the Lord, and to others, because he knew God's character and had experienced God's compassionate protection. Paul also knew that, because of the resurrection, God's salvation was so strong that even death could not pull him away from God's safe-keeping. So, Paul used the verse to say that his preaching was out of confident belief in Christ's salvation. His words were both the overflow of his delight in being saved, and the proof that he was not ashamed of Jesus (Romans 1:16).
Paul knew that the resurrection was real. He had met the risen Jesus (Acts 22:6-10). He knew that all those who believe the gospel will also be raised to new life when Jesus returns. On that day, the apostle would be one of the millions of believers, including some from Corinth, presented to Jesus. Paul needed no other payment, public praise or high position (Matthew 6:1-4). The prospect of bringing sinners from Corinth, and many other cities too, to be received by Jesus, was all the reward he needed. That was all his motivation in life. It enabled him to endure physical suffering, persecution from unbelievers and misunderstanding from believers (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).
Why do we say what we speak? Is it to draw attention to ourselves, to seek the affirmation of friends, to be 'power-holders' dispensing gossip, or to pretend to be what we are not? Those temptations are always there, and many others beside. But why do we speak of the Lord Jesus Christ? We speak because we believe that salvation and resurrection come only through Jesus, and we are convinced that all who believe the gospel will also be saved for ever. Our Jesus-filled words are both the product of our faith, and the proof that we gladly accept the responsibility to share it.
© Dr Paul Adams