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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.

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