Rabbi Saul had invested a lifetime in studying the Mosaic Law and what Judaism’s rabbis taught concerning it. By his own admission, he was zealous for the Law to the point of hunting down and killing those Jews who by faith had begun to walk according to a different law, the Law of Messiah Yeshua. The followers of Jesus were a direct threat to everything Saul believed.
On the road to Damascus, Saul’s deepest held convictions about what bound the Jewish people together were challenged. “Saul, Saul, why do persecute Me?” In an instantly blinding vision, the old man Saul ceased to exist. That day, Saul became a new creation. Saul’s new life in Messiah required a complete renovation of the house he had built on the shifting sands of Rabbinic Judaism. Discipled personally by Jesus in Arabia for about three years, Saul was forced to deconstruct that house all the way down to the foundation. Previously, he had believed that the Mosaic Law provided the path to salvation for all the Jewish people. He was not concerned about the standing of Gentiles before God. As far as Saul was concerned, they were irrelevant. During his private time with the Lord Jesus, all of that changed.
First, Saul learned that the 613 individual commands brought down to the Jewish people from Mt. Sinai were never intended as God’s recipe for righteousness. The Mosaic Law did not produce faith or result in life. The Law produced the exact opposite, as God intended it to. The Law delivered death and judgement to the Jewish people. Only one person would ever be able to keep the Mosaic Law. Until that One came, the sacrificial system provided the only avenue of escape from the penalty of personal sin.
Second, the Mosaic Law never applied to non-Jews. Not then, not now. Here are three important questions to consider:
Why do so many of today’s followers of Jesus cling to the idea that righteousness can be obtained through obedience to some portion of the Sinai Covenant?
Are Christians today expected by God to obey the Ten Commandments?
Jesus taught Saul to put on His yoke and put off the heavier one. Why?
Third, Saul came to understand that the salvation of the whole world was linked to a continuing gospel proclamation to the Jewish people. Because of this Saul took on a new name, Paul and went to work traveling the world to share the Good News with Jewish people first wherever he went. Only then, did Paul reach out to the Gentiles of the Roman world. What happened?
Most of you who are reading this today are the fruit of Paul’s labor. As Gentile believers in the Jewish Jesus, you now are saved because of Paul, and those he had discipled, were faithful to what Paul had been taught directly by Jesus. Pleasing God is impossible for anyone who attempts to live according to a set of impossible rules. This is the Good News of Paul’s Gospel.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17
Do you really want to see more people around the world saved from the penalty of their own sin? If you do, start praying for the salvation of the Jewish people, learn to share your own faith with Jewish people, look for opportunities with them. And finally, share you believe in Jesus with Gentiles, too!
The Apostle Paul was not wrong. Hopefully, you are living proof!