Summary: God forgave Paul when he repented and believed in Jesus. If God forgave Paul, he can forgive you!
Arguing from Greater to Lesser: If God Could Forgive Paul, He Can Forgive You
1. According to UPI, “An Israeli zoo said it has fired a security guard whose on-the-job snooze was blamed for the on-camera escape of three female rhinos. The Ramat Gan Safari park near Tel Aviv said the guard fell asleep while manning an open side gate at the facility and the three female rhinos…were able to sneak past him.
Passersby alerted police to the rhino escape and the three animals were recorded by a CCTV camera being chased by a zoo manager. The zoo said the rhinos were rounded up in the parking lot and escorted back into the safari park.
2. Why did this man fell asleep? Maybe he was ill, on medicine, or perhaps troubled by insomnia. Maybe he was normally a good employee; maybe not.
3. Not everyone gets a second chance. But, while we are alive, God welcomes us to come to know him and receive his forgiveness, no matter how we have messed up.
Main Idea: God forgave Paul when he repented and believed in Jesus. If God forgave Paul, he can forgive you!
I. While Others Saw What Paul Was, God Saw What He COULD Be (12-14)
A. God knew Saul’s POTENTIAL (12)
B. God saw QUALITIES he could use (12)
• Paul thanks God for putting him into the ministry
• The ministry is a blessing to those who are called to it, despite painful times
• My pastor friends: we share our trials, but we all love what we do
C. To others, Paul seemed the LEAST LIKELY choice for an apostle (13)
1. He was not only unbelieving, but an aggressive ENEMY
• a blasphemer in retrospect (against Jesus, not God in general)
2. Yet it was IGNORANT religious ZEAL that made him so cruel
—Paul had good intentions, sincere (think of Islamic terrorists)
— What you believe affects how you behave; all religions not alike
3. One can be SINCERE, but sincerely wrong!
D. But God’s amazing GRACE overflowed, resulting in FAITH and LOVE
• The concept of grace is undeserved favor
The Greek “overflowed” could be translated “hyper-overflowed”
The idea that God lavishes grace upon us is important — no stinginess, no thriftiness, but what some might consider wasteful — like overfilling a cup
The European ethic of thrift and avoiding waste affected Christian theology
• In Roman Catholicism/Orthodoxy, grace is meted out in small increments through sacraments and good works
• In 5 point Calvinism, Jesus died only for the elect (no waste)
• Paul says God is wasteful with grace… God’s sustaining grace is sufficient for us, but his saving grace is way more than sufficient…
E. Do you have SKELTONS in your closet? Wonder if God can FORGIVE you?
F. Would you have looked down on Paul for his PAST?
Application: While others see how we are, God also sees how we can be. We need to envision what God could do with others, and we need to ask what he wants to do with us. Are we reaching our spiritual potential?
II. Paul’s Example Eliminates the EXCUSE of Those Who Claim to Be Beyond REDEMPTION (15-17)