Monday, April 23, 2012

From Acts to Revelation : Part 24 – Saul's Conversion



From Acts to Revelation
Part 24 – Saul's Conversion
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Saul was introduced to us as a young man working with those who stoned Stephen at the end of Acts 7. They laid their cloaks at his feet while they killed Stephen, and the scriptures tell us that Saul consented to the death of Stephen.

Because of the persecution lead by people like Saul, the church in Jerusalem dispersed, traveling to Judea and Samaria.

Today we are going to look at Saul, and how his hate for followers of Christ grew to the point it consumed him.

Sometimes, when a truth is presented to us, it has such a profound effect on us, that it becomes difficult to accept. The bigger the truth, or the bigger our “self”, the more difficult it is to allow God to do a work in us.

We will see how, God, judged Saul, not by his actions, but by his heart, and how Saul, through obedience, became a servant to the Lord.

Two weeks ago, before we took our break for Passover, we saw Saul hunting Disciples.

The scriptures say, “Saul spoke threats and slaughter against the Disciples of the Lord.”

We then see the Lord appear to him, and speak. Saul, trembling and astonished, submitted to the Lord, or became “saved”, and asked the Lord, “What will You have me do?”

And the Lord said to him, “Arise, and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Today we take a look at how God fulfills His promise to Saul, and how God works through believers to do this.

Reminding us, we truly serve God when we serve others. Listen as we read about a servant of God obeying His commands.



SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

Acts 9:10-19
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
   “Yes, Lord,” he answered.
 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


I.       GODS COMMAND TO ANANIAS
a.      God Speaks to Ananias in a vision
1.      God may speak through the reading of His word
i.        Many times I have been reading the word and God speaks to me through it

2.      God may speak in dreams or visions
i.        Sometimes we do not hear Him because the world is so busy around us, so He will speak to us in our dreams...or we may have visions

3.      God may speak to your hearth through impressions
i.        This is how God usually speaks to me, through impressions in my heart

4.      God may speak to you directly (audibly)
i.        As with Saul, though you may hear God, others around you do not




5.      God may speak to you through other believers
i.        We sometimes call this “confirmation”, because God has already spoke with us about a matter, but we are afraid to move until we are sure...He then speaks through other believers to give us that confirmation we sometimes need.

6.      God may speak to you through prayer
i.        Sometimes during prayer, when we are silent, and listening...He will speak.


b.     God is specific in detail
1.      God is not vague when speaking

2.      He is God, and knows all

3.      He is specific in prophecies, giving names, and locations and even dates of events

4.      When one says they speak for God, if even 1 single prophecy is incorrect, then it was not God


c.      We see God's prophetic word to Ananias was 100% accurate


II.   ANANIAS' RESPONSE TO GOD'S COMMAND
a.      He was a servant of God
1.      God chooses to work through His people

2.      This is why we are called the Body of Christ

3.      If God is not effective and powerful in the world today, it is only because we are failing


b.     He heard the command of God clearly in his vision
1.      This is not the Ananias who was with Sapphira in the beginning of Acts

2.      They were from Jerusalem, this was Ananias in Damascus

3.      He heard God clearly in his vision
c.      He was afraid to serve
1.      We can often be afraid to serve or obey God

2.      We can feel like we may be in danger, like Ananias

3.      We may feel like we are inadequate, like Moses

4.      We may feel like we don't want to, like Jonah

5.      How ever we may “feel”, we must obey God's command if we are to call our selves a servant.
i.        Remember last week, we found from scripture that a servant is someone who “serves”, or “does” what they are commanded.

ii.     If you do not “DO”, then you do not serve.

d.     Ananias obeyed God
1.      In spite of his fears


III.   SAULS CONVERSION IS COMPLETED
a.      God fulfilled prophecies to Saul and Ananias 100% accurately
1.      Two men who never met, were BOTH told about each other with remarkable detail.

2.      God fulfilled His word to both of them perfectly

b.     Ananias laid hands on Saul for receiving the Holy Spirit
1.      As we have seen in other scriptures, after one submits to the Lord and is “saved”, they receive the Holy Spirit secondly, this is required to serve God...

c.      Something like scales fell from Saul's eyes
1.      When the Lord appeared before Saul, He was a great light

ILLUSTRATION:
A friend of mine was blinded in high school for a short while because he looked at someone welding without wearing goggles. His eyes formed layers that looked like plastic wrap over them from being burned by the bright welding light.

After these came off, he could see again.

Acts 9:3 “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”

You want evidence that the word is the truth...listen to the description of the bright light flashing, and Saul becoming blind from it, and the scales coming from his eyes after a few days.

That description could not be “made up” 2,000 years ago, when they did not have anything bright enough to cause this. No one would have known about what happens when the human eye is faced with a bright light, so intense it burns it. I believe this description is proof, and evidence that this event happened, and it really was the glory of the Lord that shone so bright that it blinded Saul.

d.     He was then baptized
1.      The outward expression of a Spiritual truth, that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord, and the New Covenant of God, through His atoning sacrifice.

e.      After eating, he regained strength (fasted for three days)
1.      Although we serve God, and He is a Spirit, there are physical laws we must obey...Saul had to eat to regain his strength after fasting for three days.


CONCLUSION

For us to rightly call ourselves followers of Christ, we MUST be “Doers” of His word.

By “Doing”, we are actually serving.

When we serve others, we are acting on behalf of God, and are called the Body of Christ.

When we obey that which God commands us, we are being “Good and faithful servants”

Has God spoke to you lately? Have you heard what He has to say?

Has He given you a command?