Saul the Pharisee once thought himself duty-bound to persecute the church. But Jesus transformed him into a passionate witness for Christ.
Following his dramatic conversion, how did the Lord connect Paul with the church? Acts 9:4-19.
Paul was converted and called directly into apostleship by Christ without the invitation or effort of the church. Yet, once having captured Paul's heart, Jesus led him into direct association with His church, an association that Paul cherished for the rest of his days.
"Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church, and placed Saul in connection with His appointed agencies on earth. Christ had now a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life.
"Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world."--The Acts of the Apostles, p. 122.
What action did the Lord direct His church to take regarding Paul and Barnabas? Acts 13:1-3.
Although Paul and Barnabas had already been active and fruitful under God's direct appointment, the Spirit of the Lord directed the leaders of the church to endorse this appointment by a ceremonial laying on of hands.
Through the church, God "communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give to one of His servants an experience independent of and contrary to the experience of the church itself... In His providence He places His servants in close connection with His church in order that they may have less confidence in themselves and greater confidence in others whom He is leading out to advance His work." --The Acts of the Apostles, p. 163.
Determine from the following texts Paul's concept of the church. How does it compare with your own? 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 12:4-28; Eph. 4:1-16; 5:25-32.