My Great Delight in God's Word
The Completing Ministry of Paul, Message 1
The Vision and the Commission
I think there is no any Christian who does not know the man called Paul. He is one of the greatest missionaries in the world history, and the author of the most epistles in the New Testament, providing us a great insight of the mysteries concerning Christ and the Church. Without his writings, we may not have had such a clear understanding regarding God's economy as we now have. From this book, "The Completing Ministry of Paul," I believe that we will learn a lot about the ministry of this faithful servant.
As an introduction, we are going to learn from the story when Paul first encountered our Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus. From this short conversation, we can see 2 interesting points: the vision and the commission. In this message, we are going to learn about the true vision and the true commission that are given by the Lord to the apostle Paul, which are also applied to us.
Before we start, let's review the story first. Here is the story recorded by doctor Luke in Acts 9:1-6.
Who are You, Lord?
Paul, whose former name was Saul, was really zealous for the Lord. He was ready to do anything and go anywhere to put those who were of the Way into jail, in order to stop them from persuading more people into the Way. He thought what he had been doing must be very pleasing to the God, because he then believed that these people were heretics. And now he was heading to Damascus with the letters from the high priest that gave him authority to persecute Christians. By the mercy of the Lord, Jesus Himself revealed Himself to Paul. And his life would never be same since then.
The Lord appeared to him in the form of a light shone from heaven. Saul then fell to the ground, and heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And Saul asked Him, "Who are You, Lord?" The Lord then answered, "I'm Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Saul was so trembling and astonished. He must be extremely shocked. He thought all the time that he was serving God, but the Lord came and told that he was persecuting Him. Saul was serving the Lord without a right vision. He served Him out of his own vision, not the Lord's. And He was walking in a wrong direction. Actually, what he was doing was in the totally opposite direction. We was fighting against the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, before we start serving the Lord, we need to check first if we have had a right vision. The vision is all about Christ. He is our only vision. He is all we need. And since the encounter with Him, our lives will never be the same.
Another shocking truth is in the saying of the Lord to Saul, "Why are you persecuting Me?"
Wait a minute! Saul was persecuting those of the Way, was he not? He was persecuting those people who claimed to be Jesus' disciples. But why did the Lord reproach him for persecuting "Me"?
Brothers and sisters, this marvellous truth is also revealed in this vision. The Way and those of the Way are one. Christ, the Head, and His people, the Body, are one. If one hurts the Body, he also hurts the Head. Obviously, Saul was persecuting the corporate "Me" - Christ with His redeemed people. Within few seconds, Paul had learned 2 of the greatest mysteries in the universe, Christ as the mystery of God, and the Church as the mystery of Christ. And may these 2 mysteries also be our vision of the services for the Lord.
Lord, what do You want me to do?
While Saul was trembling and astonished, he continued the conversation with the question, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"
And there came the Lord's commission to him.
The Lord did not only ordain him to be a minister, but also a witness. Paul was called to be both.
What is the difference between these 2 jobs? A minister is for a ministry, which is mainly related to work. But a witness is for a testimony related to the Person.
Like the apostle Paul, we all are called to be both ministers and witnesses. We are to be the ministers life to others, as we are for the ministry of life. And at the same time, we are to be the witnesses of Christ. Not all of us are called to be preachers, whose job is to teach the doctrines to the people. And we are not just called to say a testimony about Him. But all of us, with no exceptions, are called to be witnesses who bear a living testimony of the resurrected Christ. We need to do this so that the eyes of the people to whom we are sent will be opened, so that they will be turned "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:18 NKJV)
Brothers and sisters, the tasks that we are assigned to are by no means small things. They can have an eternal impact on the people that we are ministering and witnessing to. We are called to be the vessels through which the Lord may deliver them from the darkness under the authority of Satan, to the light and the power of God. As a result, they will receive the greatest gifts they can ever have - the forgiveness of their sins, and the inheritance. Not only will they be set free from the slavery of sin, leading to the blessings of the New Testament jubilee, but they will also experience the divine inheritance, which is the "Triune God with all that He has, all that He has done, and all that He will do for His redeemed people." (Outline III B 3)
Lord Jesus, may You open our eyes so that we may see the vision regarding You and Your Church. May we be faithful ministers and witnesses who serve You with a great devotion to You. May You use us as the vessels of mercy through which You graciously give them the true forgiveness of their sins, which brings them great joy of the New Testament Jubilee, and the divine inheritance, that is You Yourself.
Thirayost Nimmanon (Tony)
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