9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 15:9
These words, written by the Apostle Paul, serve as an introduction to this great man of God. In them can be found a reference to the two distinct phases of Paul's life. There is a reference to his early life spent in strict observance of the law and prophets of Israel. During this period, Paul vigorously opposed the Christian doctrine and persecuted the Christian followers. His conversion to the Christian faith is implied by referring to himself as an apostle. This conversion stands as a dramatic display of God's great love and mercy for an errant heart, who, although in error, is sincere in purpose and convictions.
Paul's spectacular meeting with Jesus as he journeyed to the city of Damascus (Acts 9:3-6) resulted in his joining the Christians of that city instead of persecuting them as he had originally planned. During his stay in Damascus Paul received water baptism (Acts 22:16) and prayer that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17) The infilling of the Holy Ghost is not described in scripture but that he eventually was is evident from Acts 13:9:
9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost...
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such
an onecaught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the
body,or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2 Corinthians 12:2-42
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
In these scriptures Paul is presented as an evangelist bringing specific instructions to believers about what they are required to do to completely conform to the gospel as Paul preached it. First of all it's worth noting that Paul placed emphasis on receiving the Holy Ghost after becoming a believer. Secondly, after he was told that they had not received the Holy Ghost, he was immediately concerned about their water baptism.
Upon learning of the Ephesians' incomplete knowledge of the requirements for salvation (they were aware only of the need for repentance and water baptism), Paul made corrections where needed and these corrections serve to reveal his understanding of how to be saved:
1. BELIEVE - ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST (Verse 4)
2. WATER BAPTISM - IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS (Verse 5)
3. RECEIVE THE HOLY SHOST - EVIDENCED BY SPEAKING WITH TONGUES (Verse 6)
This then concludes the search for the plan of salvation taught by the Apostle Paul and as a footnote to his teaching it seems fitting to include his comments to the Church of Galatia concerning the Gospel that he preached:
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.Galatians 1:8-9
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Did the Apostle Paul believe that the steps to be saved could be altered with the elapse of time and the ascension to positions of authority of other evangelists and preachers? Definitely not for Paul is, by this writing, pronouncing a curse on any who preach a different plan. Paul did not stop with just man in general, but specifically included himself (should he change his mind) and even included an angel from heaven. These are strong words indeed, and convey Paul's absolute faith and trust in a pure and unchanging gospel.
What did Paul practice as steps required for salvation?
1. BELIEVE - ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
2. WATER BAPTISM - IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
3. RECEIVE THE HOLY SHOST - EVIDENCED BY SPEAKING WITH TONGUES
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