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The Ministry of the Apostle Paul

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.
–Isaiah 53:6

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Paul gave this testimony about what he endured for preaching the gospel: “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”

If everybody is going to heaven regardless of what they believe, why did Paul risk his own life? Paul was willing to go through all of this because he believed that Jesus was not just another way to heaven, but that faith in Christ was the only way to be saved. That’s why he said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Thirteen times in the book of Romans, Paul used the words “salvation” or “save.” And here he linked salvation to the gospel. That word “gospel” literally means “good news.” Paul was saying, “I am not ashamed of the good news, because it results in salvation.” We use that term “salvation” so often in the church that we sometimes forget what salvation really means. Salvation means “rescue from danger.” Paul linked the gospel–good news–with rescue. He said: “I’m not ashamed to tell people the gospel. I’m not ashamed to proclaim the good news of Christ because it is not just a way; it is the only way for that person to be rescued.”

The Academy Award-winning movie “Gravity” tells the story of two astronauts who are stranded in outer space. They are in a space capsule, drifting further and further away from Earth and looking for a way back home. You know, any plan from Mission Control that would allow them to come back to Earth would be good news.

The Bible says the moment we draw our first breath on planet earth, we start drifting further and further away from God. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” Every day, you and I are moving further and further away from God. God could leave us to suffer the eternal results of our separation from Him, but instead, because of the great love God has for you and me, He instituted a rescue plan to bring us back home again. And that rescue plan is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul said, in essence: “I’m not ashamed of the gospel. I don’t hesitate to preach it to everyone, for the gospel is the power of God for rescuing, for saving, everyone who believes.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The World’s Most Famous Jew Who Found Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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