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Paul simply pointed out sin
The “Sound Off” writer of Saturday, Feb. 18 caught my attention in characterizing the Bible as a “pile of ancient literature.” To be sure, the Bible is a compilation of 66 books diverse in style and historical context. But to regard it as a “pile” reveals perhaps an insincere, incomprehensive, or dismissive approach to its reading. In particular I take exception to the statement that Paul’s writings were “nearly 180 degrees different” from the beliefs of Jesus.
That is an incredible statement that misrepresents the teaching of Paul. There is total harmony between Jesus and Paul and I offer as one example the first recorded sermon of Paul to the church in Antioch found in Acts 13:15-49. This sermon capsulizes the work of God among mankind and here we see Paul’s role in proclaiming the word of God. Paul was an instrument of God through whom God spoke. Similarly, God made revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos and thus we have the book of Revelation as the concluding book of scripture.
A cursory reading of Paul and John will show that both men spoke and wrote the words of Christ at his bidding. In reading Acts 13:47 (penned by Luke, incidentally) the reader does not find some renegade preacher. Rather, it is recorded that Paul spoke at the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. In his first sermon it is recorded that he “preached Christ.” As evidenced by the writings of Luke and also Paul’s letters, one reads of nothing but Paul’s total devotion to and affirmation of Christ. Indeed, he called himself a “servant of Christ.” In particular, the Acts 13 message declared Paul’s message to be the “word of God” and as a Christian, I must regard it as such. II Timothy 3:16 is very clear on this point.
In regards to the larger theme of the Sound Off article, always remember that Paul’s references to homosexuality are included in letters to two churches in Rome and Corinth (Romans 1:24 and I Corinthians 6:9). To characterize these words as “militant” (a quote of the Sound Off writer) is preposterous. These words aren’t even political. They are simply succinct pragmatic statements identifying the fallen nature of man. They are statements that name sin and included in the mix are fornication, murder, envy, deceit, pride, boasting, thievery, extortion, gossip, etc. Yes ... it is to two churches that they were penned. Furthermore, Paul reminded these Christians, “And such were some of you ...”
We would be wise to maintain these words in that same context today. Remember also that Paul was an accomplice to murder and, as regarding sinners, he confessed “... I am chief.”
It’s always difficult for man to admit his sin. We hide it, we minimalize it, we rationalize it, we redefine it, and we deny it. A sincere reading of Paul will show that he was not grinding any axes at this point. He was simply exposing sin for what it is ... sin. Jesus also exposed it and his admonitions inflamed the guilty. The same could be said of the Old Testament prophets. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation identifies sin, calls man to confess sin, and offers salvation from sin. That for me is the recurrent theme of the Bible and in that regard I find not a “pile” but the cohesive “world of the Lord,” as relevant to modern man as to the “ancients.”