Here in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, we know already of this man who persecuted the early believers because he made a judgement concerning Jesus – that he was not the prophesied Messiah. Paul (or Saul) a man who held coats and participated in the death of many believers because in Paul’s and other religious believers assessment that this Jesus was not the man who fitted the mould of Messiah as they perceived it. So charges of heresy were able to be proved and death sentences carried out.
Yet after the Damascus Road event Paul is a changed man. No not just changed as we see it today. You know, the reality television shows in which the winner looses the most weight or takes on a new physical look and becomes a changed person. This is change from the soles of Paul’s feet to the hairs on his head, and throughout his soul, mind and heart.
Today in Ian’s sermon he made mention of Billy Graham’s 1979 crusade in Sydney. A quick internet search about this crusade provided an Audio company, JPJ, who furnished much of the technical support for this event. Yet of the five comments they have received in the last four years, three are from people who came forward at this crusade or did later as a result of the Holy Spirit moving them.. We know that there were many more. You and I are privileged to hear frequently of the working of God in others lives that causes them to make their own commitment to follow Jesus. So too we are privileged to have a part in people coming to believe in Jesus through our own mission efforts.
Paul seeks, in this passage, to give argument for his ministry of reconciliation to those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. He lists three reasons for his mission in this way. From 4:14 – Conviction, from 5:11 – Fear, and from 5:14 – Compelled by Jesus love. For Paul is compelled by this great Love to hold fast, without letting go, to belief in Jesus as the Messiah and flowing on from his essential belief he must preach about Jesus as a result.
This love to which we must hold fast and respond is expressed in George Matheson’s hymn (1882) as:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Job in his reply in chapter 21 shows that his friends have failed to understand and judge correctly what is really happening to him. While making his case in the major part of this chapter Job turns their argument on its head by showing that whether an evil person is well satisfied (v23 & 24) or poor and deprived (v25) they all face the same end. In a grave, side by side (v26), facing judgement before God. So the answers provided by his friends are a falsehood to Job (v34).