My Thoughts on being Paul; first some background.
It seams in restoring his church God, ( THE LORD, Jehovah, YHWH) has in the past used a dual track process, using formal leaders and informal leaders.
First the formal Leadership
The Calling of the Twelve.
'And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matthew 16:17-19,NIV)
'After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
‘When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal those there who are ill and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”' (Luke 10:1-9, NIV)
Second the Informal Leadership. (Saul/Paul, Mary Magdalene, Cornelius;gentile and Roman Centurion,
He born, Saul, a strict Jew of the Pharisee
"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;" (Philippians 3:5,NIV)
and Paul a Roman Citizen.
"As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied" Acts 22:25-28 (NIV)
He born with dual names and dual citizenship.
He studied under Rabban Gamaliel,
"Rabban Gamaliel was a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the early-1st century CE." (Wikipedia:HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamaliel )
In his zeal to promote the Jewish Kingdom he persecuted the Christian Sect.
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison." (Act 7:55-5;Acts 8:2,NIV)
He was present at the stoneing of Stephen
"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ (Act 22:3-5, NIV)
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ (Acts 9:1-19 NIV)
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’ (Mark 16:1-8,NIV)
My question is;
I see a pattern here of Christ appearing both to the appointed leaders of his church and to persons outside the traditional leadership of the Church,
I believe Jesus called Twelve and Seventy-two men to preach his gospel to the world, lead his church.
These men were called to preach his gospel and administer the ordinances of the church.
The risen Lord first appeared to two woman at the tomb, not to the Twelve or the Seventy-two.
Leadership blinded by the traditions of their training.
“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
After-wards Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:9-14, NIV)
Cornelius calls for Peter
"At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’
Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.
The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.’
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.”
“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’
The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simone's house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.’
Peter went down and said to the men, ‘I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?’
The men replied, ‘We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.’ Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." (Acts 10:1-38,NIV)
Our task in seeking the modern day Paul's.
I have come to recognize that there are modern day Paul's in his church. These are persons outside the traditional power and leadership structures of the church.
As a Latter-day Saint I believe there are men today who are the modern day version of the Twelve and the Seventy-two. These are men commissioned by God to lead and administer the ordinances of the church.
I know enough history of my faith to know that these men are sometimes blinded by the traditions of our past leaders.
Look at the history of black ordination to the priesthood. Joseph Smith approved of the ordination of a black man, Elijah Abel, to the Seventy and send him on a mission.
Brigham Young struggling to hold the church together after the death of Joseph Smith, lost his own battle with racial prejudice and denied black members the priesthood and Temple ordinances.
When you restore a structure
some of the damaged fabric of the old building must remain
while new timbers are prepared
and installed in the church
|Gadfield Elm Chapel England; post-restoration|
Let us seek by the whisperings of the spirit to identify
and follow those who are called of God
as were Saul, Mary Magdalene and Cornelius .
We can learn much from these men and woman.