I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus
Saul had convinced himself that the world ought to be a particular way. Having been thus convinced he felt very strongly about it. He was very energetic in his opinions, going to great lengths to enforce them upon the world. But no matter how hard he wanted the truth to be the way that he wanted it to be…it just wasn’t.
Why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes
As Saul came to learn, it frankly doesn’t matter how strongly we feel that the world should be a certain way. If it so happens that it isn’t that way then it just isn’t. All of us convince ourselves that what we believe is right in one way or another, and when the actual truths of the world do not align with our expectations we feel pierced, like an ox kicking against the pricks.
We often speak of our desire to “change the world.” Our choice of words here betrays our vain arrogance, because in truth we can do no such thing. We can change society and we can change physical constructs, but the world, nature, and the underlying systems that define the way things are? Never. The rules of heaven, of earth, and of the soul: these simply abide as they are. So yes, we may change society, but we often change it to be contrary to actual truth. And then we fight for what we want but we never get it, because the entire world seems set to frustrate us instead. We are kicking against the pricks and wonder why it hurts.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God
Those that discredit faith proclaim that to follow God is naive. And, if God did not exist, they would be right. For if God were not real, then none of the things promised in His name would be true. And if people believe in something which is false, then truly that is foolishness. Indeed, that is a very succinct definition for the word.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men
For the preaching of the cross unto us which are saved it is the power of God
But what becomes of this “foolishness of God,” if it so happens to be true? Is it naive to be a follower, if following these precepts actually redeems our hearts and heals our souls? Those of us which are saved attest that the preaching from the cross is not foolishness, but verifiable truth.
And what is the seeing of truth if not wisdom? This is a very succinct definition for that word as well. In the end, it does not matter how elaborate and complex a cynical statement is. If it is wrong, then it is foolish, no matter how intricate it might be. And it does not matter how simple and unvarnished a statement of faith is. So long as it is true, so long as it describes things as they really are, then it is wisdom.
One of the fundamental claims of the gospel is that it teaches “truths.” There are those that view the gospel as nothing more than a suggested way to live life, or as a wishful description of how things ought to be. But the gospel does not state that it is either of those. Its clear and bold proclamation is that it defines things exactly the way that they are. It does not purport to be a way, it insists that it is the way.
Whether the gospel is effective depends entirely on whether that claim is true or not. We are told not to perform sinful actions, because those behaviors are inherently wrong. That is just the way that they are. And are they? If not, then the gospel has lied to us and has nothing of value to offer. If so, then we truly ought to abstain from them for our very own benefit.
My personal experience is that the gospel is correct in its claims, and if anyone wished to dispute my faith, they would have to illustrate why the truths proclaimed in the gospel are not actually truths.
With this study I would like to further establish how the gospel is bold in defining universal truths, and in dividing right from wrong. I wish to find examples that reinforce the notion that the gospel is the source of truth. I will also consider the folly of treating any of its precepts as mere “suggestions.”
In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you have come to view the gospel as a source of truth in your life. Have you ever had to overcome a tendency to view its teachings as recommendations? What truths of the gospel ring the most true to you? Did that faithful belief come naturally, or was it something you had to cultivate over time?