Sunday, August 9, 2015

The evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection #6: The change in the Apostle Paul

Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus (from the movie, The Bible) 
One of the most telling examples of a person who saw Christ and whose life was transformed was the apostle Paul. He had been educated with the finest Jewish education, and he had a reputation as a well-trained and respected religious leader. Because of his position and his initial belief that Jesus and his disciples’ claims were false, he hated the new sect of Christian believers. In fact, he was present at the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (see Acts 6 and 7). Before his conversion, Paul was called Saul.

After a personal encounter with the Resurrected Christ who spoke to him (Acts 9), Paul realized that he had been fighting against the very One who had validated his universal authority through the Resurrection. The day that he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul’s focus in life changed 180 degrees from the persecution of the budding Christian faith to becoming its foremost proponent and evangelist to the corners of the Roman Empire. Now Paul was fully convinced that the Resurrection was a true fact of history.

Paul’s reputation as a persecutor of the Church was so widespread that initially the Christians were afraid to accept him into their group. Eventually, Paul was imprisoned in Rome and martyred because he would not back down from proclaiming the message of the Crucified and Resurrected Christ. Paul was so convinced that the Resurrection of Jesus from the death unto life that he claimed the entire Christian faith rested on this one central truth of the Resurrection and its implications for all believers:

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits [the first to be raised to life forever] of those who have fallen asleep [died]” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17-20).

The Church rapidly grew from a small band of disciples to a worldwide movement. Thousands of early believers – even Paul himself – were martyred for their faith in the first few centuries of Christianity. (Even today, Christians are persecuted for their faith). Know that they were not killing people because of their faith but being killed for their faith in Christ. The Resurrection of Jesus is truly one of the most attested events in history.

The evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection #6:
The change in the Apostle Paul

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