1 CORINTHIANS 15:9-10
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.”
Paul was someone that religionists could get behind, and they did. By his own admission he was “a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, and concerning the righteousness which is in the law – blameless.” (Philippians 3:5) What would possibly make him relinquish his lofty spiritual resume to humbly confess, “by the grace of God I am what I am”? It all hinged on that all-important word – grace. Once he personally encountered the risen Lord, Paul understood that not one whit of his background or works warranted God’s unmerited favor – grace does that. Outside of the economy of God, it’s mind-boggling that a prideful persecutor would gladly become a humble servant, but when the gospel of grace is at work in a life, anything is possible. A good case in point is Peter.
As a rough fisherman, no one would’ve paid much attention to Peter, and as a Galilean, the intelligentsia would have scorned him as an uneducated country bumpkin. Here again grace is the key. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s shortcomings were inconsequential to the Holy Spirit, and by the grace of God, he went from foot-in-the-mouth Peter to a man with a powerful message. No longer the impetuous fisherman from Galilee, he became simply Peter, an apostle – a messenger – of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:1)
Grace revolutionized the character and personality of both Peter and Paul, setting each in a new direction. Believer, their stories hint at what God is doing in your life. He leverages salvation in the lives of converted souls – He saves you to use you. It is never a case of what you can or cannot accomplish, but what God’s grace will enable you to do.
Neither of these men considered themselves to be an isolated phenomenon. And if they were here today, they would ask, “What is your story? How has grace taken a hold of you?
– Pastor Jack
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