Monday, May 4, 2015

Paul’s Persuasion

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, WE PERSUADE MEN; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” II Cor. 5:8-11

Our Apostle Paul speaks from sound footing. His persuasive attitude contained nothing uncertain; “Knowing the fear of the Lord.” He may have learned some of that first hand on the road to Damascus. When he speaks of fear however, I don’t believe he was thinking just of the fright that would cause one to take flight, or shrinking from divine presence, but rather a disposition influenced by love and trust. It is not so much dreading His power of retribution, but rather a wholesome dread of displeasing or grieving His great heart of love. Yet I am certain that He also did have righteous rewards in view (v. 9). Paul, considering God’s point of view, and knowing how holy, just, faithful, powerful, and unchangeable He is, says forcefully and firmly “be ye reconciled unto God.” “We persuade men.”

There were those of Paul’s day that would preach another Jesus, by another spirit, and another gospel. Read II Cor. 11:4 and Gal. 1:6-16. He asked in verse ten: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be a servant of Christ” – Gal. 1:10. So also today we still make the choice; we either seek to please men or are a servant of Christ. Many today with itching ears desire a perversion of the gospel that would seem to make God or Christ or the gospel change. The underlying thought seems to be that the old message is not good enough, that we need something added, more up-to-date, more social, humanistic, on a more logical plane, closer to human reason, a message that doesn’t require too much faith to accept.

God is love, light, merciful, and holy, but He will never forego His righteousness and truth in order to manifest His love and mercy. Instead He makes them meet in the person of His Son, our dear Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to come into divine favor is through the ark of safety He has provided. He changes not! There is no spiritual progress outside of harmony with the rightly divided Word of truth. The Word reveals the perfect will of God, showing us there is no ability to go on, and enjoy the accomplishment of His work outside the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:43, “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” True messengers with a true ministry will always persuade continuance in the grace of God. The Word of grace is so constructive in spiritual development (builds us up) and everlasting enrichment (giving us an inheritance) in the unsearchable riches of Christ. Acts 20:32 & Eph. 3:8.

What an accusation! What a successful ministry! Acts 18:9-13, “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.” May we always persuade men to worship God. Paul’s persuasion was to superior worship. True worship need not contradict the law, but rather lift above all possibilities of legal observance, more than fulfilling all that the Law demanded. In spiritual worship we are brought into the throne room, before God’s throne in full freedom on abundant grace. Oh yes, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. II Cor. 3:5-12

Fully persuaded: the Apostle Paul was so persuasive because he got his persuasion from the Lord, even about smaller matters, things questionable or uncertainties. He even allowed the Holy Spirit to check him in the steps to take, and well may we, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself.” “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” – Rom. 14:5. In I Corinthians he wrote; “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient…I will not be brought under the power of any” – I Cor. 6:12. (I Cor. 10:23 “all things edify not.” )

In love’s restraints, under the perfect law of liberty, Paul gives us these sage guide lines, Oh, beloved, Let us settle it in our own hearts. Is that questionable thing in our life expedient (profitable, beneficial spiritually)? Will it build us up (edify), will it make us winners in the race for the prize of the high calling? Much of the earthly, natural, material, and social things have been called good by mankind. Some are beneficial, some are not, depending on how we use or abuse them. According to Paul’s persuasion, we can’t allow anything to exercise excessive influence, or undue control that would supersede spiritual priorities. “I will not be brought under the power of any.”

I Cor. 9:24-27, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (or disapproved). As we follow Paul as he followed Christ, we are encouraged to realize that not only was his conflict real and his goal certain, but he also was a winner. That same persuasion will make us winners.

Gal. 5:7-8, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.” It is evident yet today that the two main hindrances to swift spiritual progress is legality and laxity. Therefore we are admonished to “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” – Gal. 5:1,13. Read also Heb. 6:9 & 10:34, “we are persuaded better things of you, and the things that accompany salvation”). Paul was persuaded of better things of some of those Hebrews because they were persuaded of the better things of God. They believed that what God had, and held out to them was better. God would that we give up the so-called good of this world, for the better and the best that He has set before us, making it available to our faith.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country…now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” – Heb. 11:13-14,16. Oh, saints of the living God, are you persuaded that what God has for us is better? Are you persuaded that His best is available? Then let us do as these have done, embrace (seek, go after, apprehend, claim for your very own) His exceeding great and precious promises. Allow such persuasion to take hold on us and do a great separating work in our life, that we confess indeed this world is not our home, Let God persuade us through Paul, that nothing that has ever been, nor is, or ever shall be, is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord; that our life is hid with Christ in God, and that no man is able to pluck us out of the hand of Jesus, nor of our Father’s hand Who is greater than all. Let us, like Abraham, not stagger at the promises of God through unbelief, but be strong in faith, giving the glory to God, being fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform.

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that called you, who also will do it” – I Thess. 5:23-24. “Being confident of this very thing, that he that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ” – Phil. 1:6. If we get hold of Paul’s persuasion, we will yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting God to do the needed perfecting work, joyously expecting Him to bring it to completion right on time.

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust…that good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us…I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” – I Tim. 6:20; II Tim. 1:14,12. What has the Lord committed to your trust, a life, or lives, a truth, a message, a ministry? How can we best take care of, and beneficially fulfill, and retain that which we have been intrusted? By a dual committal. In Pauline persuasion commit your committal. King Agrippa was almost persuaded to be a Christian. But Paul desired that all were almost and altogether such as he, except his bonds, Acts. 16:28-29. Do you really hear Paul today? Peter said, “Such as I have give I thee.” Paul said, “Such as I am, I would that all be.” Paul being fully persuaded certainly had it All-together.
By J. D.