- Sermon Notes
The Amazing Conversion
Tonight we are going to review the scripture account of the most influential person Jesus met here on earth & we are talking about the Apostle Paul.
But at that time he was known as Rabbi Saul.
Oswald Chambers; “Perhaps the most important event in human history - apart from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus - was the conversion to Christianity of the Apostle Paul.”
So let’s go back 2000 years and this meeting between the risen Christ and this man on the road to Damascus.
Before we read the passage in Acts chapter 9 let’s look at a little background.
Saul was raised in a strict Jewish home in the town of Tarsus - As a young man he was sent to Jerusalem to be trained by Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers in all of Judaism history.
He not only had a zeal for Judaism but a furious hatred for Christians. Yes, you heard that correctly!
So hard of heart and resisting the Holy Spirit that he dragged out women from their homes and had them stoned as well.
In Acts chapter 7 when Stephen was stoned to death for his faith, Saul was there approving the entire event.
This event touched off a firestorm of persecution against the church, led by none other than Saul himself.
This was truly the churches enemy #1. He was a 1-man wrecking crew.
I. Our Heart can not keep our eyes closed
Galatians 1:14; And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
Paul learned a lot about religion but what he needed was a personal relationship with the Son of God, forgiveness.
Now in Acts 26 Paul describes this light as brighter than the sun blazing around me.
•We don’t know what it was but we do know it blew him off his feet - blinded by the light.
•No doubt this was about to be Saul’s absolutely real ‘come to Jesus meeting’.
•There are many today who are spiritually blind but God will continue to get their attention - no doubt about it.
•Many are resisting the Holy Spirit, they are kicking against the goads if you will, and you have a choice to make - either a harder heart or a submission to God himself.
•A great lesson of the story - no one is beyond the reach of God - no one.
A. A great question: “Why?”
•Jesus asks him, “why are you persecuting me” and further, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Acts 26:14; “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Illus - When Sherri and I were in Jerusalem we saw present day sheep herders - the sheeplisten the the shepherds voice…
•But the goats, they are resistant, undisciplined - just like a mule - stubborn - kicking against their masters.
•Now Pastor Rich and I had a conversation about the lessons here - and how the goats just like the story, would kick against the goads…
Illus - Props to show…
•Paul was motivated by anger - those who struggle with anger are often asked -
•Why do you do what you do?
•What motivates you?
•What is the purpose and significance of you life?
Acts 26:10; I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
Acts 22:4, 5, 26:11; “I persecuted the followers of Jesus to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison…and being furiously enraged at them, I even obtained letters from the High Priest… to go to Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.”
•But all of Saul’s zeal and anger was wrong. Imagine how awful to hold on to anger and bitterness only to find out it is wrong?!
I Corinthians 2:8; If they had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
B. Jesus came to love
•The question the risen Christ asks him is Why, Why, Why are you persecuting me?
•And you say but he’s not persecuting Jesus, he is after his followers.
•Our relationship with Jesus is so intimate that God himself considers any action against us to be a direct action against Him personally!
Illus - What happens when someone comes across a pack of bear cubs in the wild?Does not mama bear become both protective and dangerous in looking after her cubs?
•Suddenly Paul realizes that, in persecuting the Church, he hasn’t been serving God, but, rather, he has been fighting against God!
•What a realization Paul now has as he is lead into Damascus literally unable to eat or sleep until the Lord tells him what he’s supposed to do next.
•No doubt brokenness begins to set in - when God breaks your heart, then He is on the move and good things will come.
2 Corinthians 7:10; Sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation…
•God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ is an amazing thing.Like us, Paul understood that he received what he didn’t deserve - and it forever changed his life.
Galatians 2:20; I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
•Love is the answer. Paul received God’s love and was going to live in response to it.Too many people are held captive by what has happened in the past.
II. A life in Christ is completely worth it!
•Blind, Paul was led into Damascus where he waited for three days, praying.
•Ananias is called upon to go to Damascus, find Saul and lay hands on him so that he might regain his sight.
•Ananias doesn’t want this assignment does he? It’s Saul, enemy #1.
•But the Lord tells Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
•Can you imagine the wheels turning in Ananias head? Did I hear you right, Lord? I’m in!
A. A chosen instrument
•The Lord told Ananias that He would do great things through him to touch many lives.
•We may not be Paul - but as Christians we are called by God to touch people around us.
•Look no further for purpose in your life - Touch someone’s life with God’s love - serve someone - make a difference!
I Timothy 1:15-17; “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.But I found mercy has an example for those who would believe.”
•Our church - you - are filled with so many gifts and talents - so much potential - God will use you as a chosen instrument for His purpose - It is worth it all!
B. Suffering is part of God’s love
•Paul was not surprised by the suffering he would endure for the Lord’s sake.
•We know in advance - no surprises really - whether antagonism or mockers or more…
Thanks for that encouragement Shawn! - I’m looking forward to that.
•Look at this way - to be used of God - to be filled with the Holy Spirit - to be chosen - it’s all worth it isn’t it?
•Of course one can chose the opposite - the world’s pleasures - dead ends - not worth it.
Psalm 84:10; For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Acts 9:1-19 NASB