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The Evidence of Grace for the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-18)

September 24, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon testifies to God’s faithful towards the Jews and Gentiles by sending the Gospel at the appointed time. Pastor Carter demonstrates vividly that pride and prejudices resurface in our hearts when we stop marveling at the great salvation secured by the Lord Jesus Christ. The focus of this sermon is on how Peter retells the evidences of unbelievable, undivided, and undeserved grace that the Gentiles received through preaching Christ.

Evidences of Unbelievable Grace

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them (Acts 11:1-2;ESV).

Throughout history, the Lord has been faithful to send His Word to His people (cf. Hebrews 1:1-4). First, He gave His Word to the children of Israel at Sinai, then through the Law and Prophets until the appointed time, when God would send His eternal Word into the world (John 1:1-16). However, Scripture consistently testifies that God is always faithful in spite of man’s faithlessness (John 20:27). The Jewish people rejected Christ as their King, and even thought His life and message was unbelievable (cf. Mark 14:55-62; Luke 23:13-14; John 10:36-38). Nonetheless, just as it pleased God for Christ to suffer for the sake of redeeming a chosen people, it also pleased Him to set His affections on both Jew and Gentile through the work of Christ (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Romans 9:18-26).

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Evidences of Undivided Grace

But Peter began and explained it to them in order… And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction… If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way (Acts 11:12, 17; ESV).”

The circumcision party and Peter understood that if the Gentiles did in fact receive the Word of God, then they were no longer enemies of God, but children. Pastor Carter describes the circumcision party as those who insisted that circumcision was necessary. Perhaps these men were previous Pharisees before they became Christians, yet they still brought their cultural and ethical baggage into the grace-filled community in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, these within the circumcision party forgot that they are no longer Jews and their works were too feeble to win God’s favor by keeping the Law (Galatians 3:28). Thankfully, Peter resolutely recalls the point of both the vision and visit, to show the Jews that the Gentiles received the same grace because God is gracious even to the underserving (Luke 6:35).

Evidences of Undeserved Grace

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:15-16, 18;ESV).

Though the Holy Spirit came first to the Jews, the Gentiles received the same importance, power and truth. Peter left Jerusalem with his pride and prejudices. He received a word and vision from God that was unsettling. Then, Peter went to Cornelius’ house to find Gentiles with prepared hearts to receive the Gospel and the power of God confronted his pride and prejudices. Now, returning to Jerusalem humbled by the grace of God with a new mind and renewed spirit Peter left the circumcision party speechless when they heard the evidences of grace toward the Gentiles.

Who am I to stand in Gods Way?

The Jewish nation, like us, made much of the gift rather than of the Giver. Oftentimes, we lose sight of the purpose of God’s grace toward us, which is not given to us to make much of us. If we think that we attributed anything to our salvation, then our natural inclination is to treat the mercy of God as an earning rather than a gift (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation is of the Lord. No one is saved simply by wanting to be saved, but because God chooses to save them.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-48)

September 17, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon magnifies the grace of Christ toward the nations, who were not a people, but through Him have been reconciled to God. Pastor Carter extols the faithfulness of God to prepare the hearts and minds of those He choses to receive His free offer of salvation. The focus of this sermon is on how Peter preached the peace and the power of God in Christ Jesus, while reminding the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house, that Jesus is for all people, not just Jews.

Peter Preached: The Peace of God in Christ Jesus

As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed (Acts 10:36;ESV).

Sin made humanity an enemy of God. Sin also causes conflict within humanity. For example, men act harshly toward women; women seek to usurp the authority of men; children disobey their parents; and parents kill their own children (Genesis 3:8-19; Matthew 10:21; Romans 1; 2 Timothy 3:1-7). The problem with humanity is sin, which places every sinful man, woman and child under the wrath of God (Romans 6:23). However, Peter brings good news to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house, Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and through Him they can be reconciled to God by faith.

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Peter Preached: The Power of God in Christ Jesus

“…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead (Acts 10:38-41; ESV).”

Peter had one mission to accomplish as he entered Cornelius’ house, preach Christ. The Lord was faithful in preparing the harvest for Peter (Matthew 9:37-38). The Gentiles in Cornelius’ house were ready and eager to hear the Word of the Lord. Peter proclaims the power of God, namely, that Jesus Christ went about doing the will of God and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. To what end was Peter preaching to these Gentiles? So that they would understand that Christ reconciled them to God by dying the death they deserve and to show them His power over death, since He was raised from the dead.

Jesus Christ: No Respecter of Persons

Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:34-35, 42-43;ESV).

Peter understood that God is impartial in His estimation of humanity (cf. Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14). Pastor Carter explains that for God to be impartial means that He does not see faces, He searches hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). For the first time Peter preached that, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, not simply to Jews (Romans 1:16). Peter acknowledged that Christ made the difference. He reminded Peter that although people are from various nations, He is Lord of all, and chooses people from among the nations as He sees fit (Deuteronomy 7:6-11; John 1:9-13).

How will I be made right with God?

The problem of the world lies in our hearts. There is no peace with God apart from Christ. God sees us all as sinners, because sin does not show partiality.

However, this sin within our hearts, that seeks to dominate us, can be forgiven through Christ (cf. Genesis 4:7). Surely, sin, death, and the devil are relentless enemies. Nevertheless, Christ proved that He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can ask or imagine by powerfully reconciling all who believe in Him to God (John 3:16-21; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 2:14-15).

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Peter and Cornelius: Part 2 (Acts 10:17-33)

September 11, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon prevails upon the pride and prejudices within the human heart through the revelation of the Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter explains that even born-again, baptized, spirit-filled believers need God’s grace to expose them to their sin, so that they may continually rejoice in the mercy of Christ. The focus of this sermon is on how the Holy Spirit enlightens Peter with a new experience, brings a new excitement to Cornelius, and leaves them both with a new expectation.

Peter: A New Experience

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them. And Peter went down to the men and said, I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming? And they said, Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God- fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say. So he invited them in to be his guests (Acts 10:17-23;ESV).

What Peter saw in his vision was mind-blowing, frankly, a hard saying. Peter acknowledged that the Lord is gracious and abounding in steadfast love, so he meditated on the Word he received with the hope of understanding what it meant (cf. Joshua 1:6-8; John 6:60-68; James 1:5). While Peter was pondering this hard saying, the Spirit was working. God was tearing down the wall of pride and prejudices among the Jewish nation, beginning with Peter. When the Spirit of God comes in power and reveals Jesus Christ, there is a new experience.

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Cornelius: A New Excitement

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me (Acts 10:23-29; ESV).”

Subsequently, the Lord – in His omniscience – began a work in Cornelius’ heart to prepare Him for the words of eternal life. Cornelius was excited, so much so, he invited his relatives and close friends to welcome Peter on arrival (cf. John 4:28-29). The excitement of knowing that the Lord heard his prayers overwhelmed Cornelius. Moreover, not only did the Lord hear the prayers of Cornelius, but also salvation would soon come to his house through Peter (cf. Zacchæus, Luke 19:1-9). Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit. He did not hesitate or object, instead he moved with great anticipation and expectation to see the work of the Lord among the Gentiles.

The Gospel: A New Expectation

And Cornelius said, Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord (Acts 10:30-33;ESV).

Why did God choose to reveal Himself through Peter instead of doing so directly? Perhaps, in His wisdom, He chose to use Peter for at least two reasons, 1) Christ told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and 2) Christ would receive more glory from Peter’s witness. First, the Lord graciously exposes Peter’s sin with the purpose of reminding him of the mercy Christ showed him (cf. Luke 5:8). Then, He stirs the heart of Cornelius that he might receive the word from Peter with gladness. Now Peter, after being confronted by the sin in his heart, was ready to humbly proclaim the Gospel (not simply to Jews) but even to the Gentiles.

What is the difference?

Revelation of Jesus Christ makes all the difference in the world. When you come to know Him, you want everybody to know Him. When you come to know Him, like Peter, see your sins as grievous, heinous, and rotten compared to His holiness, yet He is still graciousness toward sinners. Ultimately, when you are enlightened to the revelation of Christ, you realize He can forgive you of your sins because He is strong enough to save you and keep you until He returns. What impact has the Gospel made in your life today?

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Peter and Cornelius: Two Dreams, One Vision (Acts 10:1-16)

September 3, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon sharply rebukes segregation amongst the Body of Christ, because the Gospel overcomes prejudices. Pastor Carter calls to attention the primary ministry of the Church, namely, reconciliation. The focus of this sermon is on how God gave two visions, a vision to a Gentile and a vision to a Jew, for building His Church among all nations.

Cornelius: A Vision to a Gentile

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa (Acts 10:1-8;ESV).”

In the first vision, God sought Cornelius, so that there might be one people. Although Cornelius was not Jewish, Scripture describes him as a devout man, meaning that he was a religious man or thought seriously about religious things. He concerned himself with who God is and feared Him, seeking to worship him through good works and continually prayed (v. 2). However, Pastor Carter exclaims that it is God who does the initiating and seeking. What God does in seeking and saving people is change hearts who initially ran away from Him to running after Him (Luke 19:10). 20140311-184658.jpg

Peter: A Vision to a Jew

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him:“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven (Acts 10:9-16; ESV).”

In the second vision, God taught Peter, so that Peter would understand that there is only one people. Before Cornelius’ men could get to Peter, God had to teach Peter that he, like many other Jews, had mistaken God’s favor for favoritism. Accepting and receiving Gentiles into full communion was the greatest hurdled for the Jewish Church and the Apostles to overcome. Peter was hungry and God used this time to illustrate His point. God was showing Peter not only do Gentiles and Jews go together, but also they are good together.

Whose report will you believe?

When people seek God sincerely, He delights to reveal Himself (Isaiah 55:6; Hebrews 11:6). Those who would seek after Him must do so prayerfully, reverentially, generously, and through Jesus Christ (2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 4:12). Subsequently, God, as He oftentimes does has to shake His children from their comfort zones, so that they might be a blessing to those whom He has chosen. What God says settles it. We must believe the report of the Lord, even though this is difficult at times, by responding, “Lord, I will go where You say go; I will do what You want me to do; and I will say whatever You want me to say” (Matthew 7:12-13, 26:36-46; John 12:23-28, 18).

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Peter Performs Miracles (Acts 9:32-43)

August 27, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon dramatically attests to the Power of Christ to heal both physically and spiritually. Elder Woodard labors the point that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just, what saves us, but the Gospel keeps us until Christ returns. The focus of this sermon is on Peter’s twofold ministry to believers and unbelievers with the miracle, mercy and message of Christ.

The Miracle of Christ

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed”… Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper roomBut Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive (Acts 9:32-34, 36-37,40-41;ESV).

The healing of Peter and the Apostles was an extension of 20140311-184658.jpgChrist’s ministry. In fact, Jesus promised that after He had returned to His Father, His followers would do greater works than He had done (John 14:12, 15:20). Elder Woodward parallels the healing of Aeneas to Jesus’ healing of paralytics in His ministry and the raising of Dorcas to Jesus’ healing of Jarius’ daughter. The miracles of Christ are revelatory of His authority over death, sin and Satan. More importantly, since Christ has the power to physically heal the sick, raise men and women from the dead, and cast out devils, surely, He has to power to forgive and save the lost (cf. Luke 5:12-25).

The Mercy of Christ

Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, Please come to us without delay. So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room (Acts 9:38-39; ESV).”

Dorcas was a believer of Jesus Christ and gave her time, treasure, and talents to the furtherance of His Kingdom (v. 39). Although she was believer, Dorcas found herself at the mercy of Christ, when death drew near. Since Peter was not far from where Dorcas was, he did not delay. He served others at the call of another; he served quickly; and he served in spite of the position God had given him (cf. Jesus). The mercy of Christ has a temporal (i.e. physical healing) and permanent element (i.e. eternal life). The raising of Dorcas was also revelatory of the message of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ raised Dorcas, so shall He raise all who abide in Him to eternal life (cf. John 15; Romans 6:9, 8:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Message of Christ

And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the LordAnd it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord (Acts 9:35, 42; ESV).”

The message of Christ (i.e. the Gospel) is not that God helps those who help themselves. Aeneas was at the mercy of others in his paralytic state. Dorcas could not raise herself from the dead, nor give herself new life. Only Christ has the power to heal and reverse the effects of sin. Only Christ has the power to forgive sin and raise the dead (Luke 24:46-47). Therefore, He deserves all the praise, honor and glory.

Do you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Works are crucial to the Christian life. They do not save us, but our works may testify that we are genuinely saved. If we believe in Jesus Christ, our ministries should be aligned with His, in both attitude and service. Christ shows compassion to the miserable, helpless, and unworthy (Luke 19:10). If you believe that you can save yourself today, ask yourself can you heal yourself, raise yourself from the dead, and endure the wrath of God for your sin (Matthew 9:12-13)? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him is forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and fullness of joy.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Saul Proclaims Jesus (Acts 9:19b-31)

August 20, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon examines the affects that true conversion has on a person and those around them. Pastor Carter illustrates how the impact of the Gospel is both remarkable and unforgettable in the life of the Christian. The focus of this sermon is on Saul’s proclamation of Christ, the disbelief of the disciples in Jerusalem and Barnabas’ encouragement.

Sauls Proclamation of Christ

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket (Acts 9:19b-25;ESV).

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God, when He saves, takes those who were at enmity with Him, those who were His enemies by nature children of wrath, children of the devil, full of ungodly lust and desires, and then changes them into children of God, members of His household and heirs of glory (cf. John 1:1-18). He does this unprompted, unmoved and unasked. Jesus saved Paul, changed, called, and brought him into the fold of God. With the same passion and determination that he had going against Christ, Paul redirected his zeal to follow Christ. Undoubtedly, during this time he preached the uniqueness of Jesus, the sufficiency of Jesus and the necessity of Jesus. Saul’s conversion was evidenced through his irrefutable life of repentance from sin to the Christ he previously persecuted.

Disbelief: The Disciples in Jerusalem

And when he had come 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; ESV).”

Although Saul preached immediately and unashamedly, this was still unbelievable to some, especially the disciples in Jerusalem. The Jews ran Saul out of Damascus, seeking to kill him, and now the disciples in Jerusalem did not want him there either, why? These believers did not believe Saul. Moreover, the heart of their unbelief lies in the fact that some had a hard time forgiving the man who vehemently ravaged their church. However, Christ calls them along with all believers to pray for the salvation and enlightenment of their enemies rather than seeking vindication.

Barnabas Encouragement

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28; ESV).”

While the disciples were disbelieving, Barnabas was encouraging. When Saul gets to Jerusalem, he is practically homeless. His brothers and sisters according to the flesh, namely, the Jews do not want him, instead they want to kill him. His brothers and sisters according to the Spirit (i.e. fellow-Christians) do not want him either because they are afraid of him, supposing that he wants to kill them. Thankfully, Barnabas did not share the skepticism of those around him, rather just as he freely gave his money and resources to the furtherance of the Church, now he puts his reputation on the line to give Saul a fair hearing. Pastor Carter notices two things that Barnabas does by the enablement of Holy Spirit: 1) he comforts Saul by taking him and bringing him to the Apostles and 2) he assured the Apostles that Saul’s testimony and the reports that they heard about him were true, to which all of the skepticism dissipated.

Has Christ changed you?

Despite popular opinion, Paul did not ask the Lord Jesus to save him. The biblical truth is God determined to save Paul and all who are in Christ before the foundations of the earth (Galatians 1:15). God is not like us, He delights more in saving His enemies than He is in punishing them (Ezekiel 18:23). If God choses to be merciful to you, can you be merciful to others, even those who hurt you? The knowledge and experience of Christ makes the difference.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-19a)

August 13, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates that because Christ is all-powerful and sovereign, He always wins. Pastor Duncanson emphasizes the mercy of Christ in inviting those who were once His enemies into His family. The focus of this sermon is on the beauty of the Gospel, to which Jesus Christ saves the unlikely, such as Saul, and then sends the unlikely to glorify Him by proclaiming His faithfulness to others.

Jesus Christ Saves

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (Acts 9:1-7;ESV).

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Saul was hostile against the Church. Meanwhile, while Saul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Christ continued to save men and women through gospel preaching (cf. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). The gospel is not an account of two equally opposing forces (i.e. good and evil) fighting against one another. No, Christ always wins. He victoriously destroys the works of the devil (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8)!

On the road to Damascus, Saul recognized the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and realized that Christ identified Himself with His Church. Pastor Duncanson examined the nature of Saul’s encounter with Christ and found that this encounter was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming. Perhaps God chose to reveal Himself to Saul in this manner for His glory, to confirm Saul’s apostleship, and show that salvation belongs only to Him. Saul prepared to meet the disciples of the Lord with great wrath, and instead of receiving the wrath that He intended to dish out, the mercy of Christ came suddenly, dramatically, and overwhelmingly to prevent him from his heart’s desire (Matthew 11:25-30).

Jesus Christ Sends

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here I am, Lord. And the Lord said to him, Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened (Acts 9:10-19a; ESV).”

Jesus Christ saves! Likewise, He also sends those who have received His forgiveness and salvation to people who are His enemies (cf. Moses, Joshua, Jonah, Daniel). This call to service oftentimes is one of fear and apprehension. However, God in His mercy always follows His tough commands and assignments with comforting words, to which His people move forward in obedience.

The Lord in sending Ananias to Saul has two purposes in mind. First, He wants to welcome Saul into the family of God. Notice after Ananias received the Word of the Lord his attitude changed toward Saul. Instead of seeing Saul as an enemy, a murderer, or a persecutor of Christ’s Church, Ananias saw him as God saw him (v. 17). Secondly, the Lord sent Ananias to Saul to confirm His word. Ananias, like Saul, recognized the authority of Jesus Christ and submitted to His decision by welcoming Saul into the family of God (cf. Romans 8).

Why does God welcome sinful people into His Family?

Evil, sin, and persecution will only endure for a time, our God reigns! Jesus Christ saves sinners, those who are broken, unclean, and lost (1 Timothy 1:15-16). Why does Ananias welcome this murderer of the Church into the family of God? He had a clear understanding of what Christ had done for him (Romans 15). Ananias shows us how we are to respond to those He saves, those who have wronged us by forgiving, love, and welcoming them into the family of God.

Saul’s conversion was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming to show us that Christ is sovereign and all-powerful. He is able to overcome evil with good. He delights in displaying His power in love sometimes by changing His would be enemies into friends. God’s holiness requires justice for sin. Yet, because He is full of compassion, mercy, and love, He provided a worthy sacrifice for sinful people by pouring His wrath upon His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him is counted righteous in His sight (John 3; Romans 4-5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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