Why Did Saul Become Paul?

 

Boats

“Saul was ashamed of his past, so he changed his name to Paul because Jesus gave him a new beginning.”

When it comes to the Apostle Paul’s name-change, this is the explanation I’ve heard many times. God did give Paul a new identity in Christ, but that didn’t wipe out or erase who he was before. Instead, we see many ways that Paul’s entire life prepared him for his ministry as an Apostle. Likewise, when someone becomes a Christian today, their life history doesn’t get erased and wiped away. Instead, God uses that to fuel their devotion to Christ and to equip them in ministry towards others.

Here’s why Saul’s name changes to Paul throughout the book of Acts and what we can learn from it today.

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3 Things Every Christian Must Know

Man with Bible in Field

Theology is important. What you believe about God matters. But for the normal Christian (or the person who’s considering Christianity), it can be extremely overwhelming to know where to begin.

Here are three things every Christian must know. They are also useful for evangelism and sharing the Gospel with others, because this is a clear and simple way to summarize what is at the heart of Christianity.

The Essential Core:

Who God is: God is the holy creator of heaven and earth who made us in his image to love and worship and reflect him in this world.

What God has Done: Because we have sinned, and our sin has earned God’s judgment, He took the initiative to rescue us from the wrath we deserve. In love, God came to us in Jesus Christ who lived and died and conquered death on our behalf so we could be forgiven, made new, and adopted as sons and daughters of God.

Who is God Calling You to Be: As a son/daughter of God, my life isn’t my own, but God’s. I live for his glory and not my own. I live to do everything in a way that shows the light and love and saving grace of God to all people, inviting them to confess their sin, repent, and become children of God themselves.

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St. Patrick the Missionary

Saint Patrick

I live 25 miles from Boston, am Irish, and yet I never knew anything about St. Patrick growing up, other than assuming he was some Irish priest who made everyone feel obliged to wear green to school.

But Patrick wasn’t even Irish – he was English.  When he was 16 he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery to the “barbarians” in Ireland where he tended sheep for his master.  The years of isolation while tending sheep he spent countless hours in prayer and meditating on what he had been taught as a child.

Patrick eventually escaped, through God’s providence, and made his way safely back to his home, where he enrolled in Seminary and later became an ordained Roman Catholic priest.  After a number of years, God spoke to Patrick in a dream and told him to return to the barbarians of Ireland and to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to them and teach them to live for Christ.

Patrick sold all he had and went to Ireland as a missionary.  He would travel with important chieftains orpay for safe passage to ensure his safety and protection.  He spent time with the people in various tribes to learn about their particular culture (music, art, stories, etc.) in order to communicate important biblical truths in understandable ways – the most well known example of this is Patrick’s use of the shamrock as an example of the Trinity (three leafs, one shamrock; three Persons of the Trinity, one God).

He built simple churches, baptized and trained men who had converted from paganism to Christianity and appointed them as priests for their tribes. After a church was established and priests were appointed he would move to the next tribe and faithfully present the Good News of Jesus Christ there.

Patrick was a godly man who loved the gospel of Jesus Christ so much he went to his former-captors.  His ministry played a history-shaping role in Ireland, and it was all because of his commitment to take Jesus’ promises and commands seriously. He loved his enemies, and he went to make disciples of all nations because he believed the Holy Spirit would be with him.

This is the life of the man whom we honor on St. Patrick’s Day every year.  It is most ironic that he returned to Ireland to teach them to flee their ungodliness, and on the day we “honor” him we seem to return to exactly what he sought to rescue men from. If you want to honor St. Patrick this year, tell someone about Christ and invite them to repent of their sin and receive the forgiveness of sin.

Other articles about Saint Patrick:

A Plea for Good Christian Art

I’ve never considered myself artistic until sometime last year. The last art class I took was in third grade. In fourth grade I started band, and that replaced art class. It never occurred to me that was because band was simply another form of artistic expression. Words have always been my playthings, and more recently, as I’ve read books about developing as a writer, it has been impressed on me that writers must see themselves as artists.

So when I issue this plea for Good Christian art, it is not simply a call for good painting and sculpture, but also for those who create music, movies, dance and writing. Let me explain what I mean by “Good Christian Art” by unpacking those words in reverse order.

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Are All Sins Equal?

We’ve heard it said many times: “Sin is sin. All sins are equal. Your sins and mine are different, but they’re the same before God.”

Like most things, this statement has the ring of truth, but it’s not entirely biblical. That also means it’s not entirely unbiblical either. The last thing I want to encourage is a hierarchy stating, “Which sins are the worst sins.” That would be unhelpful only fuel self-righteousness.

Sometimes sins are so close in nature and effect they are like comparing a red apple to a green apple. At other times it’s like comparing oranges with tomatoes. Both are rightly categorized as fruits, but the differences end there. Sin is sin. That is true.  But that does not mean they are all the same.

apples

Here is how different kinds of sins are equal, how they are different, and why it matters.
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