We are now meeting each Sunday at Grace Life Church (1640 Peppers Ferry Rd NW, Christiansburg, VA 24073). Our prayer meeting begins at 4:00pm and our main service begins at 5:00pm.

June 06, 2017

God, the Church, & the World

By: Anthony Mathenia Topics: Uncategorized Scripture: Acts 9:19b-31

God, the Church, & the World (Acts 9:19b-31)
Sermon Link

Deity Proclaimed in Damascus (verses 19b-22)

After Saul’s encounter with Christ, he did what any and every other convert to Christianity would have done: he found and associated with other Christians. Paul knew that he now belonged to the very group of people that he had long tried to destroy. Those who heard Paul preacher were astonished, especially since the synagogues in Damascus had received letters giving Saul permission to arrest any Christian and return them to Jerusalem for punishment (verse 2). And the message that Paul preached was simple: Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is the Messiah (i.e. the unique promised One). A key and necessary component of all true Christianity and the Christian life is the deity of Jesus. If Jesus is not God, there is no salvation to be had.

Difficulties in Damascus (verses 23-25)

It was likely that some of the Jews that were seeking to kill Saul were among those he had trained. The persecution did not come from the world or the culture, but from religious people, those who were theologically minded. So Paul found himself hunted down by the Jews and held at arm’s length by the Christians. So, just as Jesus had commanded in Matthew 10:23, Saul fled from the place of persecution, being let down from the wall in a basket. It certainly was not cowardice on Saul’s part to flee rather than stay and be a martyr; in fact, his courage is clearly seen in the fact that he went elsewhere in order to continue preaching the gospel.

Damascus to Jerusalem (verses 26-31)

When he arrived in Jerusalem, Paul went looking for other believers. He knew the necessity of fellowshipping with other Christians, and he didn’t have to be coerced or convinced to seek out them out. This is the same pattern that we see in the lives of converts today. True conversion ushers in church membership, and a true church will welcome new converts. Though the believers in Jerusalem were slow to receive Paul, Barnabas’ intervention proved effective. He described what Christ had done for Saul, and also what Saul had done for Christ (v27). There remains an ongoing need within the church for present-day Ananias and Barnabas types to take the initiative in befriending and welcoming those who are new to the faith. After the church had received Saul, they sent him on his way to Tarsus. The previous time Paul left Jerusalem it was with a mandate from the high priest to arrest Christians as fugitives. Now, he is leaving Jerusalem as a Christian fugitive himself.

This account of Saul’s conversion ends with a triumphant refrain of God’s kingdom progressing. Sometimes affliction and persecution lead to growth (Acts 8), but at other times peace and rest produce growth (Acts 9:31). After the storm, the calm comes. Though troublesome times will come, they will not last.

– How does Saul’s life immediately following his conversion demonstrate his new relationship with God? With the church? With the world? in what ways is this evidence of the power of the gospel and of God’s work in Saul’s heart? How has your life from the time of your conversion demonstrated the same type of change in relationship with each?