Escaping God’s Judgement
By Doug Cox
Before Paul was an apostle, he was known as Saul and was highly feared by the fledgling Christian community. He was a definite enemy of both the Christian message and its messengers. His first appearance was at the stoning of the first Christian martyr, a young man named Stephen. Saul proudly consented to his death and guarded the coats of those who threw the deadly stones.
Saul wreaked havoc on believers, barging into houses, dragging men and women off to prison. This brilliant and highly religious man, with the reputation of being a killer, made it his goal to stop the Christian movement, (also known as The Way). However, a miraculous thing happened to him shortly after getting permission letters from his boss, the High Priest, to drag people from Damascus back to Jerusalem. It was at that time he had an encounter with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus that totally changed his life.
From that moment He lived under the Lordship of Christ. That decision turned the tables for him. He now found himself on the receiving end of the hatred and terror he once dished out. He wrote to the Corinthians how he and other disciples like him were “…hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Paul was beaten with rods, and whipped beyond measure, put in prisons, endangered by his own countrymen and false teachers and all because of his newly found faith. He experienced great suffering at the hands of those who once shook his hand in brotherhood, but also suffered shipwrecks, inclement weather, hunger and other life threatening events as he journeyed the known world spreading the message of salvation by grace through faith. His declaration was “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes….” (Romans 1:16)
Paul’s story is a good one to learn from. His backstory shows us the difference between the laws of religion and God’s redeeming grace. To those following religious rules, it sounded ridiculous when Paul boldly told them their rule keeping and good works wouldn’t save them. To them the idea of receiving salvation as a gift was foreign and offensive. They scoffed, “if you don’t have to earn it you don’t deserve it.” Yet Paul continued to teach, often to his own peril that “…by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Paul realized man’s sinfulness is universal and can’t be worked off or counterbalanced by a person’s own goodness or efforts. He realized and taught that “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard” and that “the wages of sin is death.” (See Romans 6:23 and 3:23) Sin must be supernaturally removed and Jesus opened the door for that when He gave His life on the cross. Notice the last part of verse 23 tells us “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Friends, humanity is facing the dilemma of God’s judgement. Thankfully, there is a way to escape it. Putting faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection provides that way. Your salvation is God’s will. Peter wrote that “the Lord is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) If you haven’t already, I hope you will now turn and follow the Lord to escape that judgement.