So last time we looked at how God called Paul and revealed himself to Paul. Paul had a bad reputation among the Christians, yet God used him anyway. Today we look at the first few years of Paul’s life after he got saved.
What could God do with your life?
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.
Paul in verse 16 said that after he got saved he didn’t consult with man, but instead God began to train him. Although God had called him to be an apostle he didn’t go to Jerusalem to tell the other apostles of what happened. Instead God took him to Arabia. The Arabia written about here is not Saudi Arabia, but instead a dessert region outside of Damascus. Verse 18 tells us that he spent three years there. So what happened in those three years? Well apparently God trained him and taught him. There are several applications we can make at this point. One is that if you are going to be something and used by God, you need some training and understanding. Some people get saved and immediately want to start teaching a class. Some think they know enough, but even Paul was taught and waited three years before doing anything. Now I am not suggesting that a new Christian wait three years before doing something. A new Christian should get involved in what is appropriate from day one. Any new Christian can tell others what God just did for them. Any new Christian can tell others about how they got saved. I am suggesting that every new Christian also needs to be trained or disciple. Paul was disciple by the Lord. In some degree we are as well. When we begin to read and study God’s word, you learn more about God and what his will is for your life. As a new Christian you should have someone helping you understand the basics of Christianity in preparation of more responsibility.
A second application is that the church shouldn’t expect too much from a new Christian. I know some people who got saved in the morning and people in the church thought they should be like Paul by night. We need to remember that God accepted them into the family the way they were. If they are truly saved God will change them. God taught Paul three years before he started preaching and teaching others. Let’s don’t rush new Christians.
Paul then continues and said after the three years of training he went to Jerusalem to see Peter. Paul went to Jerusalem to see the top people but he wasn’t looking for their approval. He had God’s approval and was commissioned directly by God. He stayed with Peter for 15 days.
Paul also met James the half brother of Jesus, who also was the head of the church in Jerusalem.
Now imagine Peter and James face when they see Paul. Paul after all had a reputation of persecuting Christians. Paul even admits that he persecuted the church but now the people accepted him. But if you read the book of Acts it appears that not everyone was so quick to embrace Paul. Of course this is expected.
I think one of the lessons is that you never know who God will save and what he will do with that person. God’s ways are not our ways. One of the other lessons is that God has a purpose and plan for all those that are saved. The question is do you want to fulfil that purpose and submit to that plan he has for your life. Paul was all in and thus did a tremendous work for the Lord. Have you ever thought what God could do with you, or where he might take you, if you only laid down your life for him?