The letters of Paul are very powerful and beneficial to the Christian. They show a man who persecuted the church, became a missionary to the Gentiles, and a man who died a martyr for the Christian faith. His first letter to the Thessalonians was the first letter written in the New Testament, but what has God done according to Paul to bring humanity from the power of sin and death?
It is not enough to say that God sent his son Jesus to be the expiation of our sins. That is the end point, but we need to get to the beginning. Brown states “Just as Judaism had a basic story of how God chose and called Israel through Moses, so also, some would logically suppose, Christians had a basic story that retold God’s choice of Israel by recalling how God renewed the call through the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus (Brown, page 440).”
Our first parents sinned and brought sin into the world, but throughout history God made covenants with a tiny nation called Israel. He brought them through things that seemed insurmountable. Christ came to us through a Davidic line that included prostitutes, adulterers, and murderers to show us that nothing is impossible with God. That God has a way of making something positive out of something that seems to be negative.
In regards to sin and death Paul says in Romans 5:17 “If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Adam sinned, but Christ took his place and was without sin. He was the second Adam that came into the world to give all of us another chance. Through Him we were given a second chance to be children of God.
That required faith in the work that Christ accomplished for us, and a willingness on our part to believe in him. Raymond Brown states “For Paul, it describes God’s powerful salvific act through faith in Jesus Christ. The other side of the coin is the effect of the Christ-event: justification, i.e., the relationship of human being to God effected by God’s gracious, unmerited action in Christ: They now stand before God acquitted or innocent (Brown, page 441).” Through our faith in Christ we have overcome sin and death.
This victory over sin is available to everyone regardless of what we have done. Have you accepted the gift of salvation through Christ? I will promise you one thing. You will lose everything, but you will gain so much more. You will gain an eternity with the savior of the world, and that is the greatest gift we could ever hope for. You don’t have to be good enough, just humble enough to admit that you need him.
Brown, Raymond, An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997
Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version