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The importance of Paul as a chosen vessel unto the Lord

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The importance of Paul as a chosen vessel unto the Lord

Of all the writers and scribes of the New Testament, none is quoted or preached on in churches more than Paul. We are told of his many works, his courage, his deeds and the multitudes that he helped to bring into the faith. It’s important to understand the significance of the Lord choosing him to be this vessel in order to understand how the Word has spread throughout history. This will help us know how we must proceed in the last days.

Paul, also called Saul, is first mentioned in the Bible in Acts 8 just as Stephen had been stoned. From there, everything moves very quickly in the story and within a chapter Saul was Paul and emerged as a great leader in the church and champion for Yeshua. Let’s take a closer look at how this all occurred so we may understand how this transition applies to us today.

Stephen in the face of death

To understand Paul, we must first look to Stephen starting in Acts 6. The Grecians were accusing the Hebrews of neglecting their widows. The 12 apostles and the multitude of disciples were growing the early church quickly in those days and felt that they could not leave the Word of God to “serve tables,” so they selected seven men to tend to the ministration of the widows. Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” was one of the seven selected.

Stephen went about his duty and performed great wonders and miracles among the people. Many from the synagogue confronted Stephen and engaged him in debates, but his wisdom as inspired by the Holy Ghost was too much for them. In the midst of the people Stephen was winning these debates, so they bribed men to say Stephen was speaking blasphemy against Moses and God in order to bring him in front of the council.

This is where it gets interesting. False witnesses told the council that Stephen claimed Yeshua would come and destroy the holy place and would change the customs of Moses. When the council asked Stephen if these things were true in the beginning of Chapter 7, he did not proceed to defend himself against the lies but instead told the story of the history of the Hebrews starting with Abraham. He stated the promise that God made to Abraham about the land where they now stood, declaring that Abraham would not be there himself but that his seed would dwell there. At the time, Abraham had no seed nor any hope of having sons with his barren wife, but through the glory of God it was made so.

Then, Stephen retold the story of Joseph and how he brought Jacob into Egypt. It’s a very quick retelling; several chapters of the end of Genesis are retold in a few short verses. It brought him then to Moses and another quick retelling of his life from birth unto the time when God brought the children out of Egypt and into the wilderness for 40 years.

At this point, one can imagine the reaction of the council hearing a retelling of the story that they likely knew very well. In the next verse, Stephen comes to one of the points that he was trying to make.

Acts 7:37

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

He continues through the transgressions of the Hebrews with Aaron when Moses was on the mountain, then jumps forward to David and Solomon. Then, he comes to his next point in speaking against the council.

Acts 7:51-53

51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Through over 50 verses, Stephen does not use his time to speak as an opportunity to defend himself but uses it to condemn the actions and hearts of the council. His words were a certain death sentence, but he had no fear because the Holy Ghost was upon him. Through his death, he saw the heavens opened, the glory of God, and Yeshua at His right hand.

Saul, a vessel from the beginning

Most scholars look at Saul as misguided until the road to Damascus, but a case can be made that he was unwittingly doing the Lord’s work even before he knew Yeshua. It is only briefly mentioned in the beginning of Chapter 8, but he led a great persecution that went out unto the church in Jerusalem. He went to the homes of believers and had them put into prison. He probably did much worse than that. As a result, many disciples were forced to flee to other lands. As terrible of an action as this sounds, there was a clear benefit as mentioned in two verses:

Acts 8:3-4

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

The importance or length of time of events are not always relative to the length of discussion as mentioned in the Bible. Genesis 6:1-4 is a quick burst of four verses that have profound significance that has spread across all of time, but it is barely a mention. Fallen angels were making children with human women. This brought about the need for the great flood and has been a challenge for humanity for a few thousand years, yet it is only discussed in four verses.

The same can be true for Acts 8:3-4. Saul wreaked havoc on the church and as a result it was spread abroad outside of Jerusalem. At the time, there was a centralization of the church around the apostles in Jerusalem, but Saul’s actions forced many disciples to flee across the land. Had this not happened, had Saul and others not gone after the church so fervently, it would not have spread as it has today to the far reaches of the planet. These two verses represent the beginning of the spreading of Christianity around the world.

Henceforth he was Paul

It is often thought that Saul changed his name to Paul or that God changed his name as he did with Jacob to Israel. Scripture does not back up either of these concepts. The most likely reality is that Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul was his Roman name.

Here is when the “change” happened:

Acts 13:9

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

Prior to this verse, he is only known as Saul. After this verse, he is called Paul. Every word, utterance, and even character within the Bible has significance. It was at the time that his name is switched that he is bringing his first soul into belief. I won’t speculate further on this since it’s not of much relevance to this article, but it’s good to note that his transition that led to him becoming such a profound aspect of the church took a turn for the better at this point. Thus, we normally refer to him as Paul.

Up until this point, there were believers and non-believers. The fact that Paul was chosen by God to be a vessel of the Gospel holds extreme significance. He was not a simple fisherman or one who could be viewed by Hebrew or Greek scholars as an easy convert to follow Yeshua. He was an exceptionally well-educated man who fought with everything he had against belief in Yeshua. This gave his conversion the highest level of significance by taking someone so opposed to the Gospel and turning him into its greatest champion.

Our Lord chooses the right people to do His works on the earth. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul – all of them were perfectly equipped to do the Lord’s Will. Before his conversion, Saul would have been considered one of the least likely people on earth to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah. Disciples feared him. Synagogues empowered him to persecute the followers of Christ. This fact gave his conversion significance and put weight behind this teachings that could only be achieved through someone who was so opposed to the idea from the start.

We cannot currently know for sure what significance the change from being called Saul to Paul holds, but we do know for sure that God chose him to bring the teachings of our Messiah to the whole world.

Applying the concept today

The lines are being drawn and are advancing every day. There’s a war over faith that is fueling battles across the planet as well as in America.

One of the biggest challenges that American Christians face is that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to spread the Word. Today, most of us are not faced with death or imprisonment over our faith, but those days may not be too far from us. Though the battle here is more subtle, it is important nonetheless.

The influence of the adversary grows constantly. That does not mean that we are to give up on those who seem furthest from the faith. Saul was as far from being a believer in Yeshua as any other man on earth in his time, yet God chose him “to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel”.

We are often called upon to bring the Word to those who seem furthest from the faith. In many cases, we shy away from this act because our nature makes us fearful. From a secular mindset, it is wrong to “talk religion” at work, school, to strangers, and often even with our own family. This fear holds us back. What would have happened if Ananias had followed his fears instead of the order by God to heal Saul? What if the apostles had followed their earthly fears of Saul and cast him out when he came to join them?

It is not for us to know who or how we are to influence others. By following what the Holy Spirit puts on our hearts and going boldly forth with our faith as our guide, we can bring the Word of God to those who need it the most as Paul did in his days.

 


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Culture and Religion

2 Thessalonians 3:5 – ‘patient waiting for Christ’

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2 Thessalonians 3:5 patient waiting for Christ

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (KJV)

This is a very straightforward verse, but with a subtle undertone that must be understood. We are flawed creatures who cannot do well nor even have faith in God without God’s intervention. In verse 2 and 3, it is clear that men have no faith but the Lord is faithful. That is why He directs our hearts to love Him and gives us patience to carry on until Christ’s return. Even faith requires what God has put in our hearts.

This should be comforting, especially to those who are unsure whether or not they truly have faith. The faith we have is not our own but given to us by God. If it is given to us by Him, we can be certain it will be true.

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The biggest threat to Christians is the teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture

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The biggest threat to Christians is the teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture

In many scriptures of the Bible, there is a “falling away” or discussion of great deceptions that are coming to the world. It has been hard for believers in Christ to comprehend the possibility of the masses falling away from Christianity because faith has been a powerful part of society for nearly two millenniums, but we are seeing it today. Moreover, we are seeing the spreading of a seed that will cause further apostasy among believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior: the myth of a pre-tribulation rapture.

Most who have gone to church in the last hundred years have likely considered the possibility at the very least that the rapture of the church will occur before the tribulation that is spoken of in many books of the Bible, including the Book of Revelation. Some estimates put it at 90% of the Christian church believes in a pre-tribulation rapture. The vast majority of popular churches teach that believers will be called up to Heaven before the tribulation. Simply stated, the Bible does not support this claim.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Jesus will come in the clouds and call up those who are believers. This will not happen prior to the tribulation. The sun and moon will be darkened, and then He shall return. The majority of churches that teach Imminency, the concept that Jesus will return at any moment and His people will be raptured at that time, point to one verse to counter the argument of signs that will precede His second coming:

Matthew 24:36

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

This is obviously a true statement. It is also one that is completely misunderstood. The fact that we nor anyone else can know the day or the hour does not mean that He can come at any time. Throughout the Gospels and the writings of Paul, we hear of things that must happen before His return. It is not for us to know the day or the hour, but the season will make itself very evident. We will see certain events occur. One of those series of events are known as the Great Tribulation.

Why it is believed

The simply answer when asking why so many people, even “educated” church leaders, is that we want to believe it. It’s human nature to want to avoid persecution, war, sickness, and beheadings, all of which are spoken of as parts of the tribulation. If someone of authority tells us that we will not have to go through these things as long as we believe, it’s a message that can resonate. Those who hear the truth, that we may be living in the end times and that as a result many of us will go through great suffering due to our faith – it’s just not as positive of a message.

The not-so-simple answer is that Satan is pushing this as part of his agenda. It is Satan that rules the earth. His goal is to pull as many people away from the faith as possible, which is why he and his minions began deceiving Christians at their core starting in the early 19th century with the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture. He has brought about and continues to bring about waves of deceptions to pull people away from even considering the Word of the Bible, but this particular deception is to attack those who are wanting to be strong in their faith. It’s designed to shake the spirits of the believers to the point of non-belief.

Think about it. If you make people believe that they are not going to face suffering, that they are “special” and will avoid all of the troubles that will engulf the world, then they are weakened as a result. They will not be ready. When the tribulation does begin and they’re still on this planet going through it, they will begin to question their own faith. They will not be prepared to fight against persecution. They will be more willing to be deceived in order to save their lives. They will be more open to deceptions of the Anti-Christ. They will be more likely to worship the false messiah to take his mark in order to buy and sell. They will see the formation of the one world government, the one world economy, and the single world leader and they will do so more willingly than those who have their eyes open.

This is arguably the greatest deception that Satan has pulled off thus far.

Why churches teach it

Building a church is not as black and white for most as it is for others. It’s much easier to build one with a happy message than to try to build one through promises of fire and brimstone, persecution and suffering. There are those sitting in the seats of church leadership who realize that a pre-tribulation rapture is not correct but they continue to preach it in fear that their congregation will shrink or disappear altogether if they go against the grain.

As with any man-made organization, the Christian church world has a “club” among the leaders. There are those who are in the club and those who are not in the club. Those who are in the club are able to speak at events, sell books, build up an online following, and prosper as a church. Those who are not in the club have a much harder time finding relevance in this world. Today, the club is made up of pre-tribulation rapture teachers. If you’re not preaching a pre-tribulation rapture, you can’t be in the club.

It’s a catch-22 for many. Not all do it because of ignorance or greed. There are those who teach it because they feel that a message that can resonate with more people is better than a message that alienates many. In other words, they realize that they are not teaching this particular issue properly but if they can misinterpret this one little point, they’ll be able to get the other important messages out to more people. It’s a misguided attempt at an honorable sentiment that is actually more dangerous than not reaching the people at all. We believe there is a likelihood that many people will fall away in the last days, but others will open their eyes as well. If they open their eyes and start reading the Bible, they will see what they had missed their whole lives and will have an opportunity to head down the right path before it’s too late. If, however, they are weakened by expectations of a pre-tribulation rapture, it will be more difficult to bring them back to the truth.

Debating the Issue

It is sad when I read some of the assertions of those who continue to fight the truth of post-tribulation rapture. They are often excellent writers or orators fighting from a misguided perspective. For example, in the book Triumphant Return by Grant Jeffrey, he states:

Several incorrect premises have caused some to reject the pretribulation Rapture and accept the position called the “postribulation Rapture.” The first premise is an emotional contention that it would be unfair for the modern Church to escape to heaven scot free to escape the martyrdom that other believers have experienced.

In all of our studies of those promoting a post-tribulation rapture, I have never heard this premise before. It’s appalling that Jeffrey would lead with such a poor premise, as if trying to mislead the readers into believing that the post-tribulation doctrine is so weak that those who believe in it are emotional and ignorant simpletons.  Below, you will see videos of people who have formed their doctrine based solely on the Word of the Bible, who make it crystal clear that a post-tribulation rapture is without a doubt the reality, and that the theory of a pre-tribulation rapture is damaging to those to which it is taught.

The Words of Jesus Christ should be the resounding end of any debate that He will return before the tribulation:

Matthew 24:29-31

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

There are other verses that also make it clear, but this is obviously the most specific. There are those who will say this is referring only to the Jews. There are those who will use charts and graphs to convince you of a pre-tribulation rapture. They will point to interpretations by Darby, Ephraem the Syrian, and Scofield as proof. Do not be misled.

Rather than point to the evidence or attempt to debate the concept, I will defer to a few people who have done more research on the subject than me. Please take the time to watch these videos and share this article. It’s important that believers are prepared for what’s to come. Whether it’s today or in a thousand years, we cannot allow people to be guided down a path that can lead them to be part of the falling away the Jesus spoke of in His ministry. We must open our eyes, see the truth, and spread it to all that we can.

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Liz Wheeler to Catholic girls: ‘Stop pretending you’re a victim because you broke the rules and rolled up your skirt’

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Liz Wheeler to Catholic girls Stop pretending youre a victim because you broke the rules and rolled

Students at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego are protesting their dress code. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence; there have been plenty of protests over the years, especially by feminists, in opposition to school dress codes that require girls to wear skirts. But this protest is different. The students are protesting because girls are no longer allowed to wear skirts.

Principal Kevin Calkin, the principal at Cathedral Catholic High School, changed the dress code in the most recent iteration of policy. Now, it states: “The most significant change is that skirts will no longer be an option for girls. Dress code is a perennial challenge. The dress code exists for at least three good reasons: to foster unity, to encourage modesty, and to minimize pressure to conform to particular styles or clothing brands. Basically we hope to foster a faith-based environment where students are focused on learning and not on outward appearances.”

But students brought signs and demanded the old policy be put back in place. Signs had various messages from “My body, my choice” to “Even Jesus wore one.”

The policy was put into place after the principal and others on staff had handed out “hundreds of hours of detention” to girls who would break the knee-length minimum for skirts, especially by rolling up their skirts to reveal more of their lower bodies.

One America News host Liz Wheeler lambasted the students, who apparently can’t tell the difference between rights and privileges. Only in America can students feel so victimized because they can’t wear skirts to school.

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