He was a smooth talker and a popular preacher. While the accurate history of his ministry showed little lasting impact, he sought to paint a picture of great blessing wherever he had ministered.
His main focus of ministry was to call believers to what he referred to as a “full surrender”. It did not seem to matter that Scripture taught we would never reach complete submission to the Lord’s will for us in this life, this preacher insisted we could.
His disciples inevitably caught themselves enjoying evil thoughts, losing their tempers—or some other sin—to prove they had not truly surrendered fully to the Lord. It was a sad abuse of authority and left many sincere believers frustrated and discouraged.
When we listen to the apostle Paul, we are hearing from a man who saw the resurrected Christ, who was the first and perhaps the greatest missionary in the history of the Christian church, and was the person who wrote more of the New Testament than any other first century Christian writer except Luke. His writings were the most doctrinal of all the books in the New Testament, and taught the most about the church and how to live as Christians.
Such an outstanding Christian taught that in spite of being such a giant of the faith, he had not “arrived”, nor was he fully surrendered. Instead, he taught that his reach always exceeded his grasp.
He never conveyed the notion that he was fully surrendered to the Lord. He was always seeking to become more conformed to the image of Christ. He reckoned that he had more growth in grace to accomplish.
Reader, if you are discouraged at your seemingly low level of growth in grace to date, take heart. The Lord is not done with you yet. He is at work in you on a daily basis to empower you to choose, and then to do, the will of God. Look for ways the Holy Spirit has empowered you to obey the Lord in past situations, and then believe He will continue to work in you until you see the Good Shepherd face to face.