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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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LIMBAUGH: Why Did God Choose The Apostle Paul?

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During interviews about my most recent book, "Jesus Is Risen: Paul and the Early Church," many hosts have asked me why the greatest persecutor of Christians, Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul), became Christianity's foremost evangelist.

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I've read similar reasoning by other commentators on why God chose Jacob.

 

According to the author God deemed some quality of Saul worthy, obviously by the reasoning given as the author suggests Paul was a Roman citizen and highly intelligent. 

 

The author states:

 

Why would God choose such a man to present the very Gospel that drove him to persecute and even execute early Christians? Scripture clarifies that God specifically chose Paul, before he was born, to proclaim the Gospel, mainly, but not exclusively, to the gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16).

  • Galatians 1:15-16 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;

So what had Paul meant when he taught (repeatedly) that God "called me by his grace"?

 

I can't help but reminded of Luke 5:

  • 5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”1 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Bear with me if you will. A little parallelism and imagery. In Luke 5 Jesus is standing by the lake a body of water. Now let's turn back to Genesis:

  • Genesis 1:1-2 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
  • Genesis 1:9-10 9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,4 and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
  • Genesis 1:20-22 20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds 7 fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

Was this the very same God of Genesis standing before and commanding Simon Peter? What was Simon's response?

 

Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

 

Does anyone not believe that Saul's experience on the road to Damascus was anything more or less than Simon Peter's? Were both men struck with the revelation that Jesus was the very same God from Genesis?

 

There's no doubt in mind that God had in His foreknowledge a plan to use these men's talents for the office of Apostle. Jesus used fisherman and made them fishers of men. And no doubt God would use Saul to bring His kingdom's message to the Gentiles. But are we to think that the attributes, talents etc of these men merited the very grace these men received (before the foundation of the world)?

 

The author continues and concludes:

 

Finally, I believe God chose Paul because he was so real, so authentic, so personal and so loving. He was not merely a man of great intellect but one of heartfelt emotions, especially for his fellow Jews. He wore his emotions on his sleeve for all to see. In his letters to the churches he planted, you can feel his personal grief over some of the believers having been led astray by false teachers from the true Gospel and his earnest appeal for them to return. When reading his letters, you get a real sense that Paul loved these churches he had birthed as a parent treasures his own children, alternately giving praise, discipline, lessons and love.

 

That isn't the Saul I read about from Scripture, but these are fruits of the Spirit. So many think that we merited grace and God's favor as to put our "works in the cart" before the horse? I am reminded of God's election (from eternity before the foundation of the world) when God foreknew or foreloved His elect and in His timing inwardly called (regeneration) these men and even us despite being sinners - God chose us for His Glory.

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