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The Testimony of Paul (Acts 21:37-22:17)

August 12, 2015

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 details the impact of a Christ-exalting conversion account. Pastor Duncanson labors the point that an individual must experience a personal encounter with Christ in order to be saved and actively follow the Savior. The focus of this sermon is on four instructive aspects of the Apostle Paul’s testimony, which were Pre-Conversion, Pronunciation, Permutation, and Permeation.

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Pre-Conversion: Before Conversion

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished (Acts 22:3-5;ESV).

Pastor Duncanson described a testimony as the public retelling or recounting of a conversion experience. Although Paul does not spend a great of time speaking of his life before Christ, he does establish common ground as a good way to share the Gospel. Notice Paul’s calm and peaceful demeanor in sharing the Gospel with his accusers, despite their violence, false accusations, and imprisonment, because he knew these experiences would provided him with opportunity to proclaim the goodness of God in Christ.

Pronunciation: The Call of Christ

As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And I answered, Who are you, Lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting. Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do. And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus (Acts 22:6-11; ESV).”

The converting call of God is a personal and individual call (cf. John 10:2-3). This is illustrated by those who were with Paul on the road to Damascus, who both heard the voice and saw the light from heaven, but they did not understand nor receive a personal call to salvation. God the Father calls sinners by name, God the Son saves sinners by His death and resurrection, and God the Holy Spirit secures sinners by making God known to them personally (cf. Romans 8:29-30).

Permutation: The Conversion

And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him (Acts 22:12-13; ESV).”

Pastor Duncanson explains the change in the why of Paul’s teaching and living as the work of the Holy Spirit opening his eyes and ears to hear Christ and follow Him (cf. John 16:4-15). Paul demonstrated that a conversion must take place in order to see, hear, and believe in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, like the men who accompanied him on the road, Paul would have continued to persecute Christians thinking he was doing the right thing (cf. Galatians 1:11-24; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:12-17).

Permeation: Saved & Sent to Share the Gospel

And he said, The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name (Acts 22:14-16; ESV).”

By being baptized, Paul showed that he wanted to be obedient to the Word of God and to be identified with a different community than he affiliated with previously (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Likewise, after Paul received the call and conversion of Christ, he was given a mission not to be simply saved sit around waiting for Jesus to return, but to live faithfully for Jesus by giving his entire life to make Him known. In other words, he was saved to speak of Jesus and the Gospel and tell of what God in Christ had done and continued to do for him.

When sharing your testimony, do people leave the encounter making much of you or of Christ?

If your testimony is much to do about you, it is not much of a Christian testimony. To have a testimony of conversion is to have a clear understanding of who you were before Christ and seeing your need of a Savior. The only way you can come to this these conclusions is being drawn by the Father by the Son and converted by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:1-21).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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