But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only l may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24, ESV)
The Christian’s life is all about the grace of God – it’s nothing short of God’s amazing grace. This was talked about, written about and sung about by saints of the past. Paul, one of the greatest saints claimed that he was the greatest sinner and wrote about this grace as a personal experience and as a theological fact in several of his letters in the New Testament. John Newton wrote the classic hymn Amazing Grace after he was radically converted from slave trade to become a shepherd of God’s sheep. He considered himself a wretch and a spiritually lost and blind man before he knew Christ.
Paul experienced the grace of God when he encountered the resurrected Christ on a mission to eliminate Christians. Paul was never the same again. Christ changed his course, 180 degrees around! Saul, the persecutor of the Church became Paul, the persecuted! The living Christ commissioned him to become his chosen instrument to carry [his] name before the Gentiles and kings (Acts 9:15). The grace of God transported Paul from darkness to God’s glorious light (Colossians 1:13). God’s grace also transformed Paul to emulate Christ in his mission. He became Christ’s apostle and ambassador till his death. He suffered greatly for the sake of Jesus, but he never looked back. If he did look back, it was only to discard all his achievements and accolades in the light of knowing Christ which was far superior and surpassed all things. Paul’s desire henceforth was to “know him and the power of his resurrection, and (may) share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” (Philippians 3:10). Paul had no regrets despite the sufferings, persecution, imprisonments and insults he bore. It was all worth the while because of what God had done in his life through Christ!
His life motto was, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer l who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life l now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
He tenaciously and unashamedly pursued the one thing that he was commissioned to do – to preach the gospel because it was truly “…the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…(Romans 1:16). As he grew older, his life continued to be threatened, his body was battered, yet Paul persevered and experienced God’s grace through renewal of his inner body. He experienced the surpassing power of God that was so evident in his body - the jar of clay(2 Corinthians 4:7) and God’s daily grace that flowed into his body. ( 2 Corinthians 12:9). Henceforth he boasted only in the grace of God for he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13)
Paul was purposeful and passionate to finish what God had called him to do and he did this valiantly! Paul fought the good fight and kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7 -8).
Nineteen years ago, on 24 July 2003, GD James the founder of the Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International (AEFI) was called home after he had fought the good fight, kept the faith and finished his race on earth. Like Paul and Newton, GD James had tasted the amazing grace of God in a personal and radical manner. Like Newton, he too was once lost but Jesus found him, was blind -- but Jesus opened his spiritual eyes. He was transported from the kingdom of darkness and brought into God’s glorious light through the amazing grace of God and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ! He was never the same again and he never looked back! He persevered under intense circumstances of suffering, persecution and eventually death through cancer. He served Jesus his Master faithfully for over 60 years and left a rich legacy for the Church and especially the AEFI family.
Today we are “….surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses….let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:1-2).