by Frederick Hoehn, copyright 2013. |
Do you remember Stephen from the book of Acts?
He was one of the seven chosen to oversee the serving of the tables so that the Apostles wouldn't be burdened with it. (Acts chapter 6)
But God blessed and used Stephen.
Acts chapter six, verses 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then certain of the synagogue that is called the synagogue of the Libertines arose, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.
So they brought Stephen to the council, where Stephen preached a great sermon in Acts chapter 7, at the end of which,
(still chapter 7) 58 And threw him out of the city (Stephen), and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling on God, and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 And he kneeled down, and shouted with a loud voice, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he died.
So Stephen became a martyr for Jesus.
Notice in verse 58, those who stoned Stephen laid down their coats at a young man's feet named Saul. And Saul approved of their stoning of Stephen. (Acts 8:1) This Saul is Saul of Tarsus, of the tribe of Benjamin, who later became the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul wrote fourteen of the books of the Bible. In my count of fourteen, I'm including the book of Hebrews.
Some might say, "But the book of Hebrews doesn't tell us who is writing it." Yes, but look at the style. Don't you think that's very much Paul's style?
And Hebrews is very intellectual. Paul seems to be one of the main Theologians of the Bible.
And what did Peter say in 2 Pet chapter 3, 15 And consider that the patience of our Lord is salvation, like our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you, 16 As also in all his letters, speaking in them about these things, in which are some things difficult to understand...
So then, even Peter thought Paul was quite sophisticated.
But here's the clincher. God gave Kenneth E. Hagin many visions. In one of those visions, Hagin asked the Lord whether Paul wrote Hebrews. The Lord answered, yes.
Many of Hagin's visions are in his book, "I Believe in Visions." See www.Rhema.org
In Acts chapter 8, verses 3 As for Saul, he fought against the church, entering into every house, and arresting men and women, sent them to prison. 4 Therefore those who were scattered around went everywhere preaching the word.
Saul was still of the opinion that Christianity was wrong.
___Acts chapter 9 1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 And desired from him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, so that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he could bring them to Jerusalem in handcuffs. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shined around him, 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom you're persecuting, it is hard for you to kick against the sharp points." 6 And he, trembling and astonished said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go into the city, and you'll be told what you must do." 7 And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul got up from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one, but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was without sight for three days, and didn't eat or drink. 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "See, I am here, Lord." 11 And the Lord said to him, "Get up, and go into the street that is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for someone called Saul of Tarsus, for see, he's praying, 12 And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, so that he'll receive his sight." 13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem, 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to arrest all that call on your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Be on your way, for he is a chosen vessel to me, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel, 16 For I will show him how he must suffer great things for my name's sake." 17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house, and putting his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, that appeared to you on the way as you came, has sent me, so that you'll receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received sight immediately, and got up, and was baptized.
And so now, we have Paul the Apostle, after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
In 1 Cor 15:8, Paul said something about, "as if by someone born at the wrong time," speaking about himself.
It may have felt sometimes to Paul like he was born at the wrong time, but no, I believe the Lord got Paul born at just the right moment, so that Paul would be a key player in God's scheme of things. And surely, Paul will shine like the stars of heaven in eternity.
Paul had a great burden for his people, Israel. And even today, most of the Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah.
And yet, Jesus was born of a virgin, as prophesied. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as prophesied. Jesus later lived in Nazareth. It was prophesied that he would be a Nazarene.
Perhaps the thing that was a stumbling block for the Jews is that they were expecting the Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom. But while he was on earth, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
Later, though, Jesus will rule the world for a thousand years.
But first, a counterfeit Messiah will come along and deceive the Jews into thinking he's the Messiah. He is called the Antichrist and the Beast. (Book of Daniel and Book of Revelation)
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us the basics of Christianity. Then Acts gives us a history of the early Christian church.
After that, it's mostly epistles, or letters, which is where Paul comes in.
After the basics in the first four gospels, the epistles are rich with additional information about living the Christian life.
But especially important is Hebrews chapter 11, which is also called the faith chapter. The Bible says we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)
Here is the faith chapter. ___Hebrews chapter 11 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things that are seen were not made from things that appear. 4 By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and by it he, being dead, spoke anyway. 5 By faith Enoch was translated so that he didn't see death, and was not found, because God had translated him, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he's a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not seen as yet, moved by fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his family, by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness that is by faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place that he would afterward receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he was a visitor in the land of promise, like in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise, 10 For he looked for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also, Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and received deliverance from a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there sprang from one, and him as good as dead, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and like the sand that is by the sea shore uncountable. 13 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. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country that they had come out of, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly, so then God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 About whom it had been said, "In Isaac shall your descendants be called," 19 Counting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from where he'd also received him, sort-of. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect to the payment of the reward. 27 By faith, he forsook Egypt, not fearing the anger of the king, for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith, he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, so that he that destroyed the firstborn wouldn't touch them. 29 By faith, they passed through the Red sea on dry land, which the Egyptians trying to do were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were surrounded seven days. 31 By faith, the prostitute Rahab didn't die with those who didn't believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah, of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets, 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, so that they'd obtain a better resurrection, 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, also of bonds and imprisonment, 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in pieces, were tempted, were killed by the sword, they wandered around in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy,) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, didn't receive the promise, 40 God having provided some better thing for us, so that they without us wouldn't be made perfect.
Scriptures quoted are from the Holy Bible, Hoehn Version and the New Testament, Hoehn Version, both available as ebooks for the Kindle readers from Amazon.com.
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