Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, near death many times. Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans. Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses.
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying.
2 Corinthians 11:21–25, 30–31, HCSB
Paul modeled God’s great strategy contained in the four mandates with his life. (We discussed the four Great Scriptural Mandates previously… go here: https://goingfullcircleblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/four-missional-mandates-god-gives-you) In the Apostle Paul we see a man sold out to God’s mission to redeem the world. In the above Scripture, Paul’s integrity was apparently under attack from one of his many detractors. So, against his own better judgment, (“I am talking foolishly . . . like a madman.”) Paul chronicled the hardship that validated his status as a missionary for Christ. Time and again, he endured terrible circumstances and personal attack, yet he stayed the course as a worshiping disciple on mission. Let’s look at the ways Paul reflected God’s Great Strategy contained in the Four Mandates:
1. The Great Cultural Mandate, Genesis 1:28 – Paul, Hebrew from birth and citizen of Rome who spoke several languages, was uniquely gifted by God to “become all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22, NIV) on mission. He adapted to the community and people wherever he traveled, using the culture of that locale as common ground to build witnessing relationships. Paul understood that culture is a tool from God to connect people with Him. Learning and communicating in the heart languages of those around him became second nature to Paul.
2. The Great Covenant, Genesis 12:1-4b – Paul, the ultimate Pharisee, shifted allegiance to Christ and traveled the world on His behalf. Paul modeled God’s covenant of faith originally given to Abraham: the grace of God manifested first in the Hebrew nation, ultimately was revealed in Jesus, then flowed to the whole world through his disciples. Acts 13 (HCSB) showed Paul in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, preaching the gospel of Christ to his fellow Jews. He punctuated his testimony with phrases that demonstrate the Great Covenant: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!” (Acts 13:13); “Fellow children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent,” (Acts 13:26); and “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus” (Acts 13:32). As Christ’s missionary, Paul understood that God’s mission is revealed in the whole history of mankind, not just in what God is doing for him right now.
3. The Great Commandment, Matthew 22:39 – Paul, the persecutor of Christians, was changed into a man of compassion when he encountered Christ. Paul preached the pure gospel in all its ramifications without regard to political correctness. Yet there was no doubt in his writings or in the way people responded to him that he was a man of great compassion and caring. “I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us]” (Eph. 4:1, HCSB). As Christ’s missionary, Paul cared for and loved people with the love of Jesus. His was not a soft love aimed at offending no one and being tolerant of all. Paul’s love was tough and enduring. The Greek word agape means “sacrificial love,” and it is the word Paul used throughout 1 Corinthians 13 as he defined love. Paul demonstrated that a worshiping disciple on mission reflects God’s unconditional, sacrificial love to the world.
4. The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20 – Paul, champion of the Hebrew faith, was transformed into a disciple of Jesus and went on mission for Him. In previous blogs, I cited Paul’s writings that demonstrate his heart for worship. Worship continually empowered Paul to join God on mission to redeem the world. In Acts 16:25-26 (HCSB), we see Paul and Silas worshiping in prison: “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prisondoors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” The story continues in verses 29–34: “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
The power of Paul’s personal worship ignited his calling as a disciple on mission. His life fulfilled Christ’s Great Commission mandate.
Does your personal worship empower you to join God on His mission to make disciples that make disciples??? — Mark Powers