Acts: Paul's behaviour before Conversion

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Sakuras, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Sakuras

    Sakuras
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    Hello all my friends,

    I was reading Acts last night and thought about how violent and abusive Paul was before he became a Christian. Afterward, he was embraced by his victims.

    In today's society, how should we treat the most vile criminals if they have given their life to Christ?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Amy.G

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    As brothers and sisters in Christ.
     
  3. Crucified in Christ

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    I guess that we would handle things much like the early church did in Paul's case. We would be concerned until we began to see fruit or other evidence of conversion (testimony of Ananias for example). We would also glorify the Lord, knowing that only He can change the heart of man.
     
  4. Benjamin

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    This might be like comparing apples and oranges since Paul's actions weren't criminal against the society in which he was part. A vile criminal who has gone against both, civil laws and laws of morality, should be treated accordingly by civil laws which are supposed to be meant to protect society and bring justice. If he has has been sentenced to death then God be the Judge regardless and if he is truly reborn then God's will be done.

    How I would treat him would depend on what he has done and to whom, hopefully with as much grace as possible, but likely with extreme caution while here on Earth and complete trust in God if he is to be removed from this Earth.
     
    #4 Benjamin, Oct 24, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2009
  5. Sakuras

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    Hello,

    I don't feel it is Apples and Oranges. Just because a society doesn't deem something illegal, that doesn't make it right. For example abortion.

    Paul violated God's law of the human heart. He brought innocent people to their deaths and was proud. He destroyed families and abused Christians.

    Some can say he was ignorant and acting according to his faith. He didn't. He was zealous and went beyond what anyone would expect.

    Paul was a sinner like us. He became a Christian and his victims accepted him. Christ accepted him.

    Should we not accept a criminal who embraces Christ?

    This is just my feelings. I appreciate all responses thus far.
     
  6. Marcia

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    It depends on what you mean by "accept." What do you mean?

    If someone has broken laws, there are consequences for that. I do not think a person who becomes a Christian should be released from prison if he/she has broken the law, just because he/she has become a Christian.

    Once they are our of prison, if they have been truly saved and repentant, then that is another scenario.
     
  7. Benjamin

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    I pretty much agree but was separating the civil laws, in which the Roman laws did not criminalize him for this, from where I believe true justice to come from which is from God.

    I'm reminded of a news report which I saw a long time ago that has stuck with me:

    A reporter approached a pastor who had supported the death penality in the trail of a man who had kidnapped his daughter, raped, tortured and killed her. The reported asked him, "As a man of God shouldn't you be forgiving the man?" His reply was, "Let God forgive him, I can't."

    I've put a lot of thought into what he meant when he said that. But to me, #1 although I might find some love in my heart if the man was asking for forgiveness I would still want him to go to God and true justice be served, the sooner the better. #2 as a man I am incapable of rendering the kind of love and forgiveness that it would take to truly and fully forgive such a crime.

    edit to add: Similarly, as Paul struggled with being the chief of sinners I would struggle with having to forgive what he had done, especially if it was on a personal level. I would be looking forward to the day that Jesus wiped away my tears and the matter was settled.
     
    #7 Benjamin, Oct 24, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2009
  8. Sakuras

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    Hello,

    These are all interesting responses. Thank you for your time.

    I don't mean to say accept him by allowing him to escape punishment. No. I was thinking how we look at the new Christian, regardless of what he previously did.

    For example, are their Christians who feel they are more special or a better Christian than the one who lies in prison?
     
  9. Winman

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    I can't speak for others, but I do not consider myself "better" than anyone, whether they are a Christian or not. I am a wicked sinner saved by Jesus Christ.

    When I hear of a criminal who has turned to Christ, I am always hopeful that their conversion is genuine. I know that sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't.

    Here is an evangelist I know who spent much of his youth in prison. But he turned to Christ and has been leading people to the Lord for many years.

    http://www.comemissions.com/Patterson.htm

    One thing you have to say about criminals is that they are often very courageous people. I have never wanted to rob a bank, but even if I did I do not think I would have the courage to do so. So, I have always been amazed by that. And when they do turn to the Lord, they are often very courageous for the Lord as well.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    One of the most wicked and heinous people of my generation was Jeffrey Dahmers. As he neared execution for his outrageous crimes, he saw the depth of his sin, repented and trusted Christ. His conversion was amazing.

    He was executed, but he will be my brother in eternity. Many people were NOT HAPPY that he got "fire escape" and shouldn't go to heaven.

    I see God's grace even more glorious in that it could reach one of the most wicked man of my era. To the praise of the glory of His grace.
     
  11. saturneptune

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    My memory must fail me. I thought Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered in prison in November 94 from a head injury inflicted by a fellow inmate. I may be getting him mixed up with John Wayne Gacey.

    Anyway, I agree 100% with your point. We are all guilty before a Holy God, and only by His grace are any of us in heaven. This goes back to the thread a few weeks ago when someone was arguing about the levels of sin making a difference, when in fact they do not.

    There are two points that we need to remember.
    1. Except for the grace of God, I could have been Jeffrey Dahmer or any other mass murderer.
    2. That lustful thought or that hatred I carry around for a fellow Christian counts just as much against me as the murders in number one.

    Without Jesus, we all end up in the same place. Why He chose me, I have no idea, but am eternally greatful He did.
     
  12. Marcia

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    Saturnneptune is right - Dahmer was murdered.

    I never understood what Sakuras meant by "accepting" someone who was a criminal and became a believer.

    I still maintian we should suffer the legal consequences of criminal actions if we commit a crime - believer or not. This has nothing to do with forgiveness or accepting someone as a brother/sister in Christ if they are a believer.
     
  13. Sakuras

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    Hello,

    Marcia, I believe punishment is required for a crime. What I meant as "accept" is how do we treat this current criminal serving time in jail who embraces Christ? Do we treat him as an equal, or what? He is a new being now. Again, he still must serve his sentence. However, are we to visit him. Help him. What?

    Thank you.
     
  14. Marcia

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    Well, not sure how to "treat" such a person - it is not an issue unless I personally know him or her. Of course, any believer in Christ - in prison or not - is a brother/sister in Christ.

    No, I don't feel led to visit people in prison. There are some wonderful people who are led to do prison ministry, or led to speak and give testimonies to people in prison. I do think there should be Christian prison ministry and Christians should support such ministries, but I don't think every believer needs to visit people in prison.
     
  15. Winman

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    Yes, I agree. Mike Patterson the evangelist I showed received Jesus when a former convict preached in prison, and he preaches in prisons now. Convicts tend to listen more to someone they can relate to. That doesn't mean someone who has never been convicted of a crime cannot preach in prison, but I believe a former convict will have more impact.

    I think you have to sit back and observe someone for awhile to make sure their conversion was genuine.

    And I don't know about Dahlmer, but Ted Bundy received Christ before his execution.

    I lived in Jacksonville, Florida the day Ted Bundy was executed not 30 miles away from where we lived, and remember the day quite well. I was taking my daughter to school that morning and we listened to the radio, the DJ was asking all the people to turn off their lights and appliances at the hour and minute he was to be executed in order to give him a more powerful jolt of electricity. I will never forget that.
     
    #15 Winman, Oct 27, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2009
  16. Crucified in Christ

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    First- There is no question that such a man may face civil authorities for such a crime and that the punishment they might deem appropriate could be the death penalty.
    Second- It would be incredibly difficult to forgive someone for such a heinous crime against our family, friends, etc.
    Third- The Lord did not ask us to forgive others when they have terribly wronged us, He commanded it.
    Fourth- We are allowed nowhere in Scripture the argument that we have been more grieved by our fellow man than God has been by us.
    Fifth- Our Lord has told us that if we expect forgiveness from Him- for the almost innumerable sins we have committed against Him, we do not get the luxury of holding an unforgiving heart against others.

    The Christian life is not easy, but neither is it defined by what we desire. Our Master has told us what He expects...it is our duty to learn to obey. If it seems impossible: remember, He will never ask us to do the impossible- He will supply the grace we need.

    God bless you all.
     
  17. Winman

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    You have #3 wrong. The scriptures say we are to forgive if they repent.

    Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
    4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.


    The scriptures tell us to go to those who have trespassed against us, and if they will hear you, then you forgive them. If they will not, you take one or two witnesses and tell them their fault. If they will still not hear, you take it to the church. If they will still not hear, you are under no obligation to forgive them.

    Matt 18: 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
    16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
    17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.


    Even the Lord will not forgive us unless we repent.
     
    #17 Winman, Oct 27, 2009
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  18. Benjamin

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    Some states do not impose the death penalty at all and often times the judge allows the victim’s family to voice what they would like the sentencing to be; if I remember right this was the case and the pastor was asking for the death penalty. So would I.


    Glad you understand that point.


    True, if they repent, and this not to say one couldn’t or shouldn’t try to find some forgiveness in our hearts through the spirit of love and grace regardless.


    True, and I’ve made no such argument, so that we be clear.


    Our Lord is perfect in forgiveness, we on the other hand struggle to be like Him, but we are not always perfect in doing so. We do not earn our way by perfection in the works of our forgiveness; salvation is in His forgiveness, this is a free gift in grace through faith, the object of that faith being in what he has done for us (sinners).


    Agreed, Christian life is not easy in the sense that every day we must die to ourselves and struggle to be more like Him. God could take a man who did such a crime and welcome him in His arms and see the sin no more; I, on the other hand, a sinner, that knows what the Lord has done for me, freely admit that I would deeply struggle to do the same and in that is my constant desire to cry out to my Father that I have need to know His love even more, and He knows that I have such need to do these things.




    And you.
     
  19. Marcia

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    What is your source for this? I never heard this before. I know that James Dobson visited him, but I never heard Bundy trusted Christ.

    I've heard so many false stories of conversion from Christians (such as Darwin and also that singer whose name I've forgotten now), I tend to be quite skeptical. I'm not saying they were lying, but these stories were unsubstantiated urban legends.
     

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