PAUL, THE APOSTLEby Jimmy Swaggart
Several years back, one of the billionaire philanthropists from Texas gave Yale University some three million dollars in order that a “chair” be established, with the intent of teaching a course on the origin of Western Civilization. A considerable period of time passed when there seemed to be no action in this regard, which prompted the benefactor to call the President of Yale.
“What is the holdup as it regards the teaching of this subject?” the philanthropist inquired.
The president of Yale answered and said to the benefactor, “Mr. Bass, we are very grateful for your gift of three million dollars to Yale University, with the intent that the subject of the origin of Western Civilization would be taught as a college level course; however,” the President of Yale went on to say, “we simply don’t know how to teach the subject.” He continued, “We do not know how Western Civilization began.”
PAUL, THE APOSTLE
If the President of Yale had known the Bible, he would have had some understanding as it regards this subject. The truth is, the Source of Western Civilization is the Lord Jesus Christ, with all that He has given to us, made possible by the Cross of Christ. But the human instrumentation used by our Lord was Paul, the Apostle. Of course, the Lord used many; however, the Book of Acts, written by Luke, characterizes the formation of the Early Church and, above all, the Ministry of the Apostle Paul, gives us the origin of the greatest way of life known to mankind—Western Civilization.
DEMOCRACY AND THE GOSPEL
It must be understood, however, that there can be no true Democracy, which is the greatest form of government in this present world, without such being based on the Judeo-Christian concept. This means that our government spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to establish democracy in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, which are governed by the Muslim religion, i.e., the “Koran,” will prove to be a fruitless task. Democracy and the Koran are not on the same page. In fact, they are really not on the same Planet. So, for Democracy to be what it ought to be, the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be paramount; otherwise, it becomes no more than another vapid philosophy.
THE BEGINNING OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
The beginning of this way of life, of course, had its start with the Holy Spirit; however, the physical demonstration of the origin of the Western way of life under Christ began with the Macedonian Call. The Scripture says, and I quote from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE, as will be all the Biblical quotes in this Volume:
“And a Vision appeared to Paul in the night (proclaims the Holy Spirit now telling the Apostle exactly where He wanted him to go); there stood a man of Macedonia (the northern part of modern Greece, from the Adriatic to the Hebrus River), and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us (thus was ushered in the most momentous event in the history of the world, the going forth of Paul to take the Gospel to the nations of the West).
“And after he had seen the Vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia (by the use of the pronoun ‘we,’ we know that Luke, the writer of this Book of Acts, now joins Paul here at Troas), assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them (they knew they now had the Mind of the Lord)” (Acts 16:9-10).
“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis (this would be the very first presentation of the Gospel on European soil, which would have such a bearing on what is presently referred to as ‘Western Civilization’);
“And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia (Paul’s destination), and a colony (was a colony of Rome): and we were in that city abiding certain days (represents tremendous hardships, but a Church was established here).
THE FIRST CONVERT
“And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made (evidently meant there was no Synagogue in the city; what few Jews were there met by the riverside); and we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted thither (seems to tell us that no men were present other than Paul and his party).
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira (she was a businesswoman), which worshipped God (proclaims her as a Gentile who had probably begun visiting a Jewish Synagogue in Thyatira), heard us (Paul evidently was asked to speak to these women, thus proclaiming the Story of Jesus Christ and His Redemption afforded by the Cross of Calvary): whose heart the Lord opened (presents her hungry for God), that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul (she gave her heart to Christ, and was, thereby, the first convert on European soil).
“And when she was baptized (evidently took place some days later), and her household (refers to the fact that all of those with her accepted the Lord as well, and were baptized), she besought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there (as well, her house was probably the first Church on European soil). And she constrained us (means they did not acquiesce at first, feeling perhaps that it may be an imposition on her; but she would not take no for an answer)” (Acts 16:11-15).
THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL
From the first convert in Europe, who was Lydia, to the first Church established on European soil, which was in Lydia’s house, the Gospel spread westward.
We do know that after Paul had been to Rome, he wanted to go to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28); however, there is no historical or Scriptural proof that this desire was realized. But we do know that ultimately the Gospel went to France and England, along with all the other European countries, and eventually to North, Central and South America. That is the origin of Western Civilization. But again we emphasize that the true source of the prosperity and freedom of this way of life has its origin totally and completely in the Lord Jesus Christ and the price that He paid at Calvary’s Cross.
To misunderstand that is to misunderstand what Western Civilization is all about.
PAUL, THE GREATEST EXAMPLE FOR CHRISTIANITY EVER PRODUCED BY CHRIST
I know that Paul would never have made such a statement as that given in our heading of himself. Actually, he said:
“For I am the least of the Apostles (not mock modesty, but rather the most deep humility), that am not meet (worthy) to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God (before his conversion).
“But by the Grace of God I am what I am (concerns the Favor or Mercy of God): and His Grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain (it was not without effect, telling us that it is without effect with many); but I laboured more abundantly than they all (proclaims that which Grace enabled Paul to do because he had a greater grasp of Grace than anyone else, which speaks of the Cross, the means of Grace): yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me (is with all Believers who look toward the Cross [I Cor. 1:17])” (I Cor. 15:9-10).
But at the same time, when we realize certain things about Paul, I think one would be hard put to find any human being who has ever lived, other than Christ, who can match this man.
• First of all, it was to Paul that our Lord gave the meaning of the New Covenant. Considering that the New Covenant is the greatest Word, the greatest Plan, and the greatest Covenant that has ever been given to man, and ever will be given to man, then we have to realize that the Lord, considering the vast significance of this all-important Word, would not have given it to just anyone. This is the Covenant to which everything else pointed. In fact, as great as the First Covenant was, and we speak of the Law of Moses given to that great Patriarch, it pointed in every capacity to the New Covenant that was to come. In fact, Paul said of the New Covenant:
“But now (since the Cross) has He (the Lord Jesus) obtained a more excellent Ministry (the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood is superior, and takes the place of the Old Covenant in animal blood), by how much also He is the Mediator of a Better Covenant (proclaims the fact that Christ officiates between God and man according to the arrangements of the New Covenant), which was established upon better Promises. (This presents the New Covenant, explicitly based on the cleansing and forgiveness of all sin, which the Old Covenant could not do.)
“For if that first Covenant had been faultless (proclaims the fact that the First Covenant was definitely not faultless; as stated, it was based on animal blood, which was vastly inferior to the Precious Blood of Christ), then should no place have been sought for the Second (proclaims the necessity of the New Covenant)” (Heb. 8:6-7).
• As well, the Lord gave the responsibility to Paul of founding the Church. In fact, the Apostle, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, referred to himself as the “Masterbuilder of the Church.” He said:
“According to the Grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder (in essence, Paul, under Christ, founded the Church), I have laid the foundation (Jesus Christ and Him Crucified), and another builds thereon (speaks of all Preachers who followed thereafter, even unto this very moment, and have built upon this Foundation)
. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. (All must preach the same Doctrine Paul preached, in essence, ‘Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.’)
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid (anything other than the Cross is another foundation and, therefore, unacceptable to the Lord), which is Jesus Christ (Who He is, God manifest in the flesh, and what He did, Redemption through the Cross)” (I Cor. 3:10-11).
• The mystical Body of Christ: of course, we speak of the Church, the true, Blood-bought Believers, all of whom make up the Body of Christ. While Jesus Christ is the Builder of the Church, He did so, even as the Book of Acts grandly proclaims, through the Holy Spirit, but with the Holy Spirit using Paul. So, if we have to select a man, all under Christ, Paul stands out as no other, even as he referred to himself, and the Holy Spirit wanted him to do so, as the “Masterbuilder of the Church.” And this refers to the Church all over the world. It does not refer to denominations, but rather to every called-out Believer, called out from the darkness of this world, and we speak of those who are truly Born-Again. And, to be sure, this Church is “a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be Holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
THE MAN AND HIS MESSAGE
Unequivocally and grandly so, Paul preached the Cross. In fact, he used the “Cross” as a synonym for the Gospel, which means that’s how prominent his teaching was as it regarded this all-important subject (I Cor. 1:17-18; Phil. 3:18; Gal. 6:14).
The meaning of the Cross is actually the meaning of the New Covenant. In fact, one could turn it around and say the meaning of the New Covenant is the meaning of the Cross. When Paul spoke of the Cross, he wasn’t speaking of a wooden beam, but rather what Jesus there did, the price that was there paid, and the tremendous all-inclusive Victory that He there purchased with His Own Precious Blood (Eph. 2:13-18). If we fail to grasp the Message of this man, which is the Cross of Christ, then we totally misunderstand Paul, who he was, and what he did. Unfortunately, in today’s spiritual climate, the Cross of Christ has been so little preached that the modern church hardly knows what it is and what was there done. As a result, there is much preaching done about the Gospel, but very little True Gospel that’s actually being preached. The truth is and the facts are, if the preacher is not preaching the Cross of Christ, then whatever it is he is preaching will be of precious little good to those who hear him.
In 1997, after six years of prayer meetings morning and evening, the Lord began to open up to me that which I refer to as the “Revelation of the Cross.” It definitely was not new, having been given to the Apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago, which the great Apostle gave to us in his 14 Epistles. I’m sure that quite possibly the Lord has given this Revelation, or at least a part of it, to others down through the centuries. At any rate, it totally revolutionized my life and my Ministry. As it regarded the Cross of Christ and Salvation, I had always preached this strongly all over the world, with the Lord helping me to see, and I exaggerate not, hundreds of thousands of souls brought to a Saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But as it regarded the Cross of Christ and Sanctification, of that I had no knowledge. And when I speak of “Sanctification,” I am speaking of the manner in which we live for God, the way we order our behavior, and how we overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil, even as this latter phrase was coined by the Early Church Fathers. In fact, while one can certainly be Saved and not understand this great Truth, the simple fact is, one cannot successfully live for the Lord, as it regards daily life and living, without a working knowledge of this great Truth. This means that the sin nature will rule such a person to some degree, which, you can be sure, will make life miserable. Every single Believer in the world has “more abundant life” (Jn. 10:10), but the truth is, only a tiny portion of the modern church is enjoying this more Abundant Life.
THE SIN NATURE
The very first thing the Lord showed me in that Revelation was the meaning of the sin nature. To do that, He took me to the great Sixth Chapter of Romans. In fact, the Holy Spirit through Paul has given over this entire Chapter to explaining this all-important subject. This, not understanding the sin nature, is the cause of most, if not all, failure in the hearts and lives of the Children of God.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Then some days later, the Lord showed me the solution to this problem, which is the Cross of Christ, and related forcibly to me that the Cross of Christ is the only solution. There is no other! Not understanding this, which means the Cross of Christ relative to Sanctification is not understood, means that most modern Christians simply do not know how to live for God. The Cross alone is the answer. For this great Truth, the Lord once again took me to the Sixth Chapter of Romans.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
And then last of all, and of extreme significance, the Lord showed me how the Holy Spirit works in all of this. Regrettably, not understanding the Cross of Christ relative to Sanctification, most of the modern church doesn’t understand, as well, how the Holy Spirit works within our lives. It is the Cross of Christ, the Lord showed me from Romans 8:2, through which the Holy Spirit works. In other words, it is the Cross which gives the Holy Spirit the legal means to do all that He does. As a result, while the Lord doesn’t require very much of us, He most definitely does require that our Faith be exclusively in Christ and the Cross, without which, the Holy Spirit is greatly limited.
I learned all of this, which we will elaborate on much more fully in the body of this Volume, from the Apostle Paul.
If this Book opens up to you to a greater degree that which was taught by Paul, which the Holy Spirit gave to him, then your time in perusing its contents will not be wasted.
“But God forbid that I should glory (boast), save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (what the opponents of Paul sought to escape at the price of insincerity is the Apostle’s only basis of exultation), by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (The only way we can overcome the world, and I mean the only way, is by placing our Faith exclusively in the Cross of Christ and keeping it there.)
“For in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision (blows all of man’s religious ceremonies to pieces), but a new creature (new in every respect, which can only be brought about by trusting Christ and what He did for us at the Cross).
“And as many as walk (to direct one’s life, to order one’s conduct) according to this rule (the principle of the Cross), peace be on them, and mercy (which comes only by means of the Cross), and upon the Israel of God. (This refers to all who look to the Cross for their Redemption. They alone are the true Israel)” (Gal. 6:14-16).
(This message was derived from the book “Paul” by Jimmy Swaggart. Available by CLICKING HERE)