The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator
For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!
To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.
Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:
The Conversion of Saul/Paul
All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.
Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.
Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.
There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.
The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.
However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:
“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV
This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.
This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.
Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).
There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.
Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.
But then it all changed.
Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?
This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.
Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.
It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.
In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.
Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:
- Desperate pursuit of God
- Diligent prayer
- Consecrated heart
- Focused life