God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.
–Galatians 1:15-16

Lord Lyttelton and Gilbert West were 19th-century English lawyers who felt it was their life’s calling to destroy the Christian faith. They decided that in order to accomplish that formidable goal, there were two events in history they would have to disprove. One was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The other was the conversion and calling of the Apostle Paul. So they met together and divided their tasks. Gilbert West would disprove the subject of Jesus’ resurrection. Lord Lyttelton would disprove the subject of Paul’s conversion and calling. They would work independently but come back together periodically to discuss their progress.

So West and Lyttelton set about on their journey. A couple of years later, they met to check up on one another. West said, “I confess, I am finding some evidence to support the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Lyttelton said, “I, too, am starting to find some evidence for the credibility of Paul’s conversion and calling.” Again, they went their separate ways.

They came back together several years later. West said sheepishly, “I need to confess something to you. I have come to believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually occurred; and since I last saw you, I have given my life to Jesus Christ.” Lyttelton said, “I, too, have taken the evidence of Paul’s conversion and weighed it against the laws of legal evidence; and I, too, am convinced that it actually occurred; and I, too, have become a Christian.” Both of these men wrote books about their findings. West’s book “Observations on the History and Resurrection of Jesus Christ” and Lyttelton’s book “Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul” remain in libraries today.

Most of us understand why the resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. But perhaps you may question the importance of the conversion and apostleship of Paul. Why is that of almost equal importance to the resurrection? Think about it: The Apostle Paul was the greatest missionary in Christian history. He wrote almost half of the New Testament. And he is the greatest systematizer of Christian theology. If Paul was not converted on the road to Damascus as he claimed, and if he did not receive the gospel by direct revelation from Christ as he claimed, then Paul was a charlatan, half of the New Testament is a lie, and Christianity has lost its most important teacher after Christ.

Next to Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul is the single most important figure in the New Testament. And Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is the most important of the 13 biblical letters he penned. This week we will begin studying the book of Romans, which provides the foundation of our Christian faith and shows us the way of grace-powered living.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Romans: Grace-Powered Living” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.