In the previous article we saw the Sovereign God at work in the life of Joseph as He messed into His will the decisions that caused a teenage young man to be sold into slavery by his brothers and then see that same young man be promoted by God to be second in authority over the Egyptian nation.  The superintending of God in the affairs of men and nations to accomplish His will is seen throughout Scripture.   It was in the Plan of God for a zealous Pharisee named Saul who had persecuted the Church beyond that of any other person to become the apostle who would carry the gospel to the Gentile world. From consenting to the death of Stephen to seeking out those who had left Judaism to believe in the Christ who died on the Cross and was resurrected, Saul, later called Paul railed against those who no longer were relying on keeping the Law for their supposed salvation.  “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” (Phil. 3:4-6). The apostle to the Gentiles would teach that … "The righteous will live by faith" (Rom. 1:17). That was the same message preached by the prophet Habakkuk (Hab. 2:4), for salvation is the same for all generation and all ages -- faith alone in the Christ who either was to come or who came and died on the Cross and rose again to provide eternal life to all who would receive it as a free gift from the Heavenly Father. It was that message of grace and faith in the finished work of Christ that exposed the false teaching that keeping the Mosaic Law brought salvation. Thus the Apostle was burdened to take the message of grace to the Jews.  However it would come at great peril. Escaping with his life numerous times, Paul was warned not to return to Jerusalem.  On one occasion while in Caesarea … “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles” (Acts 21:10-11 NIV). The apostle’s deep love for his people would not deter him from going. When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done" (Acts 21:12-14). Much debate has arisen among teachers of the Word as to whether Paul made a good decision to continue his journey to Jerusalem.  It surely had it negative consequences, especially when he made a vow in keeping with the Mosaic Law. Yet God in His Sovereignty was superintending in all this, weaving Paul’s decisions, good and bad, with His will to accomplish what He had determined.  "Go [Ananias]!  This man [Paul] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15-16). All this was fulfilled as Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to governors and kings, to those in the military service of Rome, and even to the household of Caesar.  God had meshed Paul’s decisions with His Sovereign grace to demonstrate once again that … “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

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