Hello brothers and sisters. This week’s reading is Acts 9:1-22. It’s not a complete chapter, but is the full account of the conversion of the apostle Paul. I think it will be a blessing to your and to those who hear you share the gospel this weekend.
The apostle Paul, known at the beginning of this week’s passage as Saul, would have been considered by the people of his day as one of the most Godly people they knew. In a culture where religious public image was of utmost importance (as it often is in our day), Saul had it all. He had the right breeding, the right education, the right friends and acquaintances (he was able to get letters of permission to arrest Christians after all), along with a zeal and commitment to his faith second to none. In the eyes of the public he had it all, the most spiritual of the spiritual. But he didn’t know God.
God decided to use Saul to spread the gospel, and had to knock him flat on his back to get his attention. Saul had the very rare experience of being brought to faith in Christ by Christ himself! The change was instant and powerful, and immediately after Saul, now Paul, was healed of his blindness, he headed out to share his new faith. More than that, he was immediately confounding the Jews, proving that Jesus was the Christ.
I think this demonstrates a couple of important points, which have direct application in evangelism. First, you can’t have a true encounter with God and come away without being changed to your core. Whether you have a burning bush type experience like Moses or Paul, or whether God deals with you more gradually, there will be a change, and it will be unmistakable. There are many men and women church-goers who live just like the world because they have never been born again. They don’t realize that attending church every Sunday, or saying a pre-packaged prayer and walking an aisle can’t save them. Their hearts aren’t changed and they are not bearing true spiritual fruit, the evidence of conversion. They aren’t carnal Christians. They are lost souls in need of a savior, and until they see themselves as lost, they will never be found.
I believe this passage also indicates that Paul’s persecution of the Church was not based entirely on ignorance. It seems that immediately after his conversion, he was not only willing to share the truth of Christ, but capable of sharing it convincingly, proving it from the scriptures. Paul was a man of learning, and certainly had the knowledge to see the identity of the messiah prior to his conversion if he had truly been looking for it. He certainly had no trouble using that knowledge to good effect after seeing the Christ. Like most others who deny Christ, his disbelief was a matter not of ignorance, but of the will.
So try to convict your listeners in these areas this week. A suggested outline is below. I pray that it is an encouragement.
READ ACTS 9:1-22
In this passage the apostle Paul had a supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ.
What you may not know is that every person who is truly a Christian, truly born again, has also had a supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ.
Being born again is not just a cute metaphor for living differently. It’s very literal.
We need to be born again, because we are all dead. We are dead in our sins, (Ephesians 2:1-3), spiritually dead. And some day, also because of our sin, we will be physically dead and in eternal conscious punishment in hell.
Sin is willful rebellion against God, moral crimes for which we deserve that punishment.
OPEN UP TH E LAW (THE COMMANDMENTS) AND SHOW THEM SIN SO THEY FEEL ITS CONVICTION
God hates sin and is angry with evildoers, and no amount of goodness on our part will make us right with Him. It is fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, who is just and righteous and will punish all sin perfectly. His word says He will bring every deed into judgment (Ecc 12:14)
But God does not enjoy punishing sin. The bible says He takes not pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live. (Eze 33:11)
Maybe you would say you are already right with God. That is possible, and I hope it’s true. But maybe you, like Paul, are playing at being religious without being changed by God. Maybe you prefer appearances to true change.
After his conversion Paul immediately started preaching in the temple, proving to those listening that Jesus was the Christ. He was a very well educated man, who could have see the truth if he had been looking for it. This demonstrates his denial of Christianity was more about willful rebellion than ignorance. Jesus identity was clear to him, as it should be clear to you. Why can’t you see Him?
Perhaps you can’t find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a police officer.
Or perhaps you would say, “I’ve tried God, or I’ve tried Christianity, and it didn’t work for me.
If you “Tried God,” and He “Didn’t work for you,” you never truly knew Him.
Or maybe you would call yourself a Christian, or spiritual, but you know in your heart that there has been no real change. It could be you are working to look like a Christian without every truly putting your trust in Jesus Christ. Remember this:
You don’t get right with God by repeating a prayer or walking an aisle
You don’t get right with God by attending church or synagogue
You don’t get right with God just by believing in Him or being “spiritual”.
You need what the bible says in Acts 20:21. You need repentance toward God, repentance from your sins, and trust in Christ, and in Christ alone. And you will be supernaturally changed by God, made a new creature. He will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
If you are not sure this is true, find out for yourself. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. See if you are bearing the fruit of repentance. And if not, repent and trust in Christ.
Job 14:1-2 says Man, who is born of a woman, is few of days and full of trouble.
He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.
Life is short my friends. Think on eternal things now, while God has graciously given you time.
Here is video that might help you answer those who use the “I tried that” argument.
For the praise of His glory,
Living Waters – The core ministry messages
Hell’s Best Kept Secret
True and False Conversion
Way of the Master
The Ambassador’s Fellowship
The Ambassador’s Academy
The School of Biblical Evangelism