I remember the first time I was given the privilege of preaching from the pulpit. God had called me to the Gospel ministry and I was in the process of completing undergraduate work at Southwest Baptist College. I was privileged to preach God’s Word at my home church. However, many in the congregation could only see me as a “homegrown boy” or “our star athlete.” Some could not get past my past to see me as a minister of the Gospel; their sentiments were essentially expressed as, “I knew you when!” . . . so what gives you the right to . . .?” Some still feel that way sometimes years later.
If you have ever encountered someone who could not get past your past after you became a professing Christian, I have some good news for you. I trust that what you are about to read will be as much a source of comfort to you as it has been to me.
The Bible says in Ephesians 3:8, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
When someone questions the “right” I have to step into a pulpit and preach the Word of God, they are actually quite correct to be concerned! I have no “right” to do such a high and holy thing. I do not deserve to deliver God’s Word to anyone, except for the grace that God has given to me to do it. Charles Spurgeon, Adrian Rodgers, and W. A. Criswell would have been the first to admit the very same thing about themselves. And the same is true for you, regardless of where this finds you today.
Many may question your profession of faith in Christ because they “knew you when . . .” That does not change the fact that God’s grace has sought you and bought you with the precious blood of His Son, and He calls you to do His work in a fallen, broken, and sin-filled world. Some may never get past your past. That’s OK. God got over your past, no matter how wicked and wretched it truly was. God did not wait for you to prove yourself to Him before raising you from death to life. He knew you could never do that anyway! While you were still a self-centered, self-absorbed sinner, Jesus died for your sins.
Because God knew us when and still loved us then, that should be enough to keep us going in the face of those who will never be able to get past our past. I can only imagine just how many people who knew Paul when could not get past his past. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees and Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of the early Christian church. He even stood and held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death. When Paul, now a radically converted believer in Christ, first came to Jerusalem, “He attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26). Yet God’s grace was enough for Paul to get on with the ministry he had been called to. Is it enough for you?
None of us deserve anything we have, especially our faith and promised future. So when others say, “I knew you when,” receive it with a heart of thanksgiving for a God who would rescue a sinner like you and give you such an incredible calling to serve Him for His glory and the good of others.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”