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  • Chapter One

    Hi there, it's me, Paul,
    the one who was once Saul
    until He stopped me
    on the road to Damascus,
    blinded me,
    confronted me,
    redeemed me,
    made me an apostle.
    All of us here
    send you our love
    in the name of Jesus,
    the savior, the redeemer,
    the one who gave us life,
    the one who saved our souls. Amen.

    I cannot believe
    what I am hearing.
    They are telling me
    you have slipped back
    into the ways of the law
    and walked away from God's grace.
    Tell me it isn't true,
    tell me you aren't listening
    to men preaching false words.
    I told you myself
    even if an angel comes
    to give you another story,
    even if I myself come to you
    with some other gospel,
    don't believe it,
    don't be deceived.

    Whoever tells you
    Jesus is not the redeemer,
    Jesus is not the way to salvation,
    they are lying, they are wrong,
    they are of Satan and they are cursed.

    You know the truth
    and you know I don't lie.
    You know I have been beaten
    and jailed for the gospel of Jesus,
    the gospel I taught you,
    and that gospel is true.
    It was true yesterday,
    it is true today,
    and it will be true for all eternity.
    Not because I taught it,
    but because God taught it to me.

    Jesus himself appeared to me
    and showed me the pure truth
    while I was on my way
    to persecute and punish Christians.
    I was the Sanhedrin's number one,
    they gave me papers of authority
    to arrest and detain anyone
    who taught against the Jewish laws.
    But God himself in the form of Jesus,
    appeared to me, forgave me, and changed me.
    He taught me the truth
    and sent me on a mission:
    take the word to non-believers.
    I was sent to Arabia, and
    returned to Damascus.
    Only after three years
    did I get to Jerusalem
    to meet with Peter and the others,
    but only James, the Lord's brother
    was there, the rest were off on missions.
    So Peter and I conferred, and I went back
    to the mission God has given me.

    All these things I have written to you
    are the things God has taught me,
    you have my word they are true.
    Since that time, I've been to Syria
    and Cicilia; my mission was not
    for the Jews, but for Gentiles.
    When the apostles heard
    I was on a mission to the lost,
    they rejoiced for me and blessed me,
    and asked God to protect me.

    Chapter Two

    After fourteen years, I came back to Jerusalem.
    Barnabas and Titus the Greek were with me.
    I had to lay low; the Sanhedrin still has a price on my head.
    But I told the apostles about my mission,
    they rejoiced to hear it was going well.
    When they learned that Titus was not a Jew,
    they did not ask him to be circumcised
    or to offer sacrifices, or to participate in any rituals.
    They accepted him as a brother in Christ,
    even though some Jews wanted him to undergo these things.
    The older Jews who did not believe kept a close eye on us,
    we knew they were ready to turn us over, but God would not let them.
    And when they learned that Peter, a Jew, was appointed
    as the apostle to the Jews, and I was appointed
    as the apostle to the Gentiles, they accepted that.

    Peter, James, and John gave us their blessing
    to continue our work in the name of Jesus.
    They asked only that we remember the poor,
    and care for them, which I have always done.

    Several years later, when Peter came to Antioch,
    we had words, and I had to call him out.
    You see, we were at supper with James, the brother of Jesus,
    and all was going well when a few of the Gentiles
    came to join us, and Peter refused to eat with them.
    Instead, he got up and went into another room,
    and since he was Peter, several of the other Jews
    who were converted went with him. Even Barnabas
    was sucked into that behavior. Peter was afraid
    the other Jews would start rumors and make trouble
    for the converted, but I called him out in front of the crowd.

    I told him, Peter, these men are the children of God,
    so what gives you the right to treat them with disrespect.
    God does not give different blessings for different people
    because it no longer matters if we are Jews or Gentiles.
    We are all sinners before God under the laws of Moses.
    That law condemns every one of us, and only the grace
    of Jesus justifies us now. If we continue to return to the old laws,
    we are returning to the condemnation of the past.
    And if we do that, aren't we saying the sacrifice of Jesus
    was for nothing? If we return to the old ways,
    we are turning our backs on Jesus and his blood.
    If I am truly of Christ, then I am no longer under the law,
    for my old self has been crucified and buried along with him.
    I am no longer alive, but instead it is Christ who lives in me,
    this body is only a shell for the Holy Spirit to do as he will.
    But if I continue to live by the laws of Moses,
    I am condemned by that law, for it condemns us all.

    to be continued

    My stepson, Clyde, is trying to get his life straightened out. He is, without a doubt, the greatest challenge to my faith I have ever faced. So far, I am winning the battle, but it is only through the grace of God and not through any thought or deed of my own. Recently he has been trying to live a Christian lifestyle, and while the circumstances are not as optimal as they should be, he has been making some progress. One of the things I said to him, and will say to you, is the Bible is not just a random collection of books. It is the personal message of God to you.

    Now, if you are an unbeliever, you might have read the Bible at some point thinking this was a book of incredible literary value, seeing as it has endured over the centuries. And you would be correct, it is certainly that. Almost all English and American literature from the 1600's on is based on the style and content of the Bible, in progressive forms of course. Taken as such, it is a book of enormous value and depth.

    So now that you have read this far, do yourself a favor and read it again. This time, read it as if this were a letter from a friend you haven't seen in a long time.

    I think you will find it makes a difference.

    More soon.

    ~Fred~
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