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Stories of Lives Liberated

Paul of Tarsus

Compared to one characteristic of Rome in the first century, a prison today is, well, rather cozy. Where once there was complete neglect, there now exists extensive healthcare; beds and cells have taken the place of iron chains and dark pits; people are rewarded for good behavior rather than being lashed for disobedience.

The Scribd article linked above gives a rather gruesome, though established, depiction of the type of imprisonment borne by the Apostle Paul, who himself offers a reflection of his times in and persecution beyond prison:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and day in the open sea… I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
2 Corinthians 11: 24-28

All Paul would have had to do to evade continual dissent was reject the single message he declared, the message that Jesus saves. Any ordinary person would have opted for this – they would have gone into hiding, apologized, or given into their captor’s demands; yet Paul endured whippings and stonings and hunger and persecution only to continue doing that which brought him more of the same suffering.

I can’t honestly imagine that anyone would be particularly drawn to recurrent pain, so the fact that he continued without dread of torment draws my respect. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel. He knew that God brings salvation to everyone who believes, and that it is through the Gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed [see: Romans 1]. Most people – even those who might have known of it – did not know (or understand or believe) the power of God’s Truth. While Paul’s friends, enemies, authorities, and neighbors were living outside of this truth, Paul was living in it. And so resulted Paul’s zealous proclamation of the Gospel which was to him worth any amount, kind, or extent of temporal strife because it might allow allow another the chance to experience the same freedom he had himself come to know.
We see similar disbelief in the world today. While people very often know of Jesus and the Church and much in-between, they have ventured far from an accurate understanding of any of it. At Liberate, we are driven by the same hope that motivated Paul, and we feel the urgency of revealing the true Gospel, no matter the cost.

 

“I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself.” – C.S.Lewis

As a student, Taylor Vollmer has realized the value of a dissenting opinion to understanding. Not claiming to be more or less qualified than any other, his studies shed light on things grossly depreciated.