Living Sacrifice Motive

Thursday: Mercy to the Apostle Paul

Romans 12:1 In this week’s study, we see that we must look at our Christian life in view of God’s mercy.
Mercy to the Apostle Paul

Imagine yourself in Adam’s place, living through what I have described. God had told Adam and Eve that they would die, but they had not died. There had been judgments, of course, consequences. Sin always has consequences. But they had not been struck down; and, in fact, God had even announced the coming of a Redeemer who one day would crush Satan’s head and undo his work. Even more, God had illustrated the nature of Christ’s atonement by killing animals, the innocent dying for the guilty, and then by clothing Adam and Eve with the animals’ skins. It was a picture of imputed righteousness. 

How must Adam have felt? You do not need a theological degree to answer that. Adam must have been overwhelmed by an awareness of God’s mercy. Adam deserved to die. But instead of killing him, God spared him and promised a Savior instead.

No wonder Adam then named his wife “Eve,” meaning “life-giver” or “Mother.” It was his way of expressing faith in God’s promise, for God had said that it was from the seed of the woman that the Redeemer would come. The memory of God’s mercy must have kept Adam looking to God in faith and living for God by faith through his long life from that time forward, for Adam lived to be eight hundred years old and was the father of the line of godly patriarchs that extended from him through his third son Seth to Noah. 

Here is another example of God’s mercy. In his earlier days Paul was called Saul, and he was a fierce opponent of Christianity. He was a Pharisee, the strictest sect of the Jews, and he was zealous for the traditions of his fathers. This led him to participate in the martyrdom of Stephen, and he followed that by arresting and otherwise persecuting many of the early Christians. Having done what he could in Jerusalem, Paul obtained letters to the leaders of the synagogues in Damascus and went there to arrest any Christians he could find and carry them off to Jerusalem for trial and possible death. 

On the way Jesus stopped him. There was a bright light from heaven, and when Saul fell to the ground, blinded by the light, he heard a voice speaking to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. 

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice replied.  At this point Paul must have had feelings similar to those of Adam when God had appeared to him in the Garden of Eden. True, God had not told Paul that he would die if he persecuted Christians. He was persecuting them in ignorance, supposing that he was serving God. But he had been terribly mistaken. He had done great harm, and he had even participated in the killing of Stephen. In that first moment of Paul’s dawning apprehension, when he recognized that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was speaking to him, he must have thought that Jesus had appeared to him to judge him. He certainly deserved it. He must have expected to have been struck down and have died.

Study Questions
  1. How did God show mercy to Adam and Eve?
  2. What was Paul doing before Jesus appeared to him? Why did Paul as a Pharisee believe he was serving God?

Reflection: Read the story of God’s mercy towards Paul in Acts 9:1-19. Make a list of Paul’s offenses against God in verses 1 and 2. How did God show mercy to Paul instead of the judgment he deserved (verses 3-19)?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “John Newton’s Text.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7