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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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