Books of the Book: Acts

Conversion of Saul

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Jim & Mark Howard


Series Code: ABOTB

Program Code: ABOTB00012A

00:20 Welcome back to Books of the Book.
00:23 I'm Pastor Mark Howard. I'm here with my co-host, my brother,
00:26 Jim, and we are studying the book of Acts. We have a powerful
00:30 chapter today, once again, I can say in the book of Acts as we
00:33 are looking at the conversion of Saul. Now we had picked up on
00:37 this, Jim, in Acts chapter 8, well right at the end of chapter
00:41 7 and 8 where we looked at the stoning of Stephen. It tells us
00:44 in Acts chapter 8 verse 1 that a young man, Saul, stood by
00:48 holding his garments and consenting to his death. We said
00:51 we are going to get to that a little bit later. Well here in
00:55 Acts chapter 9 we find that Saul is still fighting the Christian
00:58 church and I want to pick up there in Acts chapter 9 verse 1.
01:02 I hope you have your Bibles with you and before we go into
01:05 reading, we're going to turn our attention to the Lord and ask
01:09 his guidance as we study his word.
01:11 Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word and again we thank
01:16 you for the Spirit of Truth to guide us. We ask that He would
01:20 lead us now as we study and help us to apply these things to our
01:24 hearts. We ask it in Jesus name Amen.
01:27 We're reading in Acts chapter 9 and beginning in the first verse
01:31 the Bible says, Then Saul still breathing threats and murder
01:34 against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
01:38 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus so
01:42 that if he found any who are of the Way, that is followers of
01:45 Christ or those who were part of the Christian faith, whether men
01:49 or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he
01:53 journeyed he came near Damascus and suddenly a light shone
01:56 around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground and heard a
02:00 voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
02:05 And he said, Who are you Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus
02:09 whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the
02:13 goads. So he trembling and astonished, said, Lord what do
02:17 you want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, Arise and go into
02:21 the city and you will be told what you must do. And the men
02:24 who journeyed with him stood speechless hearing a voice but
02:27 seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground and when his
02:30 eyes were opened he saw no one, but they led him by the hand and
02:35 brought him into Damascus and he was three days without sight and
02:39 neither ate nor drank. This is a powerful passage of
02:43 scripture and I think we need to comment on a few different
02:47 things in this passage. First I find it very interesting.
02:51 Of course Saul is breathing threats and murder against the
02:55 disciples and we'll talk about that in a moment, but it says
02:58 as he is journeying and coming near Damascus and he sees this
03:03 heavenly light that a voice speaks and says, Saul, Saul,
03:07 why are you persecuting ME? You know, it's interesting here that
03:12 that Lord counts that which happens to his people as
03:17 happening to him. He identifies with us when we go through
03:20 ridicule, when we go through difficulty, when for standing
03:24 for Christ we have to face opposition or whatever it might
03:28 be, he recognizes that as happening to him. I don't know
03:31 that Saul would have been thinking that when he was doing
03:35 it, but now it's coming home to him that this was really the
03:39 Lord that he was persecuting.
03:40 Well in addition to that, if he was simply doing his duty as
03:45 he viewed it of ridding the church of heresy, that isn't
03:49 persecution. In other words, persecution would be something
03:53 that would be wholly different from what he was doing. He just
03:56 envisioned that he was keeping the faith pure.
03:59 He was doing what was right and persecution makes it clear
04:03 that it's wrongful. Yeah, and to be accused of that
04:07 was shocking to him. Absolutely, but certainly by the
04:10 evidence of this clear, bright light and supernatural presence
04:16 that he was in, he immediately says, Who are you Lord? And the
04:21 Lord's response, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard
04:26 for you to kick against the goads. First and foremost, he
04:29 stood by at the stoning of Stephen. He was involved in the
04:33 persecution that scattered the disciples there in the beginning
04:38 of Acts chapter 8. All of that, no matter how many people it was
04:42 Jesus says I am the one you are persecuting. Then he says, It is
04:47 hard for you to kick against the goads. Now you've heard of being
04:52 goaded on. A goad was like a stick with a pointed end that
04:58 would prod on cattle or animals that needed a little bit of
05:04 extra push. You get this sense that Jesus is saying, I've been
05:09 pushing you, I've been prodding you through the power of the
05:13 Holy Spirit and it's hard for you to keep resisting the Holy
05:18 Spirit. That's an interesting thought because we read here in
05:22 the story of Saul and we think Wow! Saul was going totally this
05:27 direction. He seemed so hard and calloused.
05:30 Right. All of a sudden he's going totally the other and
05:31 from outward appearances, I mean here it says here in verse 1
05:34 he's still breathing threats and murder. I mean, it seems that he
05:38 is 100% confident in what he's doing. How did he turn around so
05:42 fast? Well the reality is he didn't
05:44 turn around so fast. I believe there was a process that the
05:48 Lord was taking him through and that's revealed in this
05:51 statement by Jesus, It is hard for you to kick against the
05:54 goads. My spirit has been speaking to you as you were
05:59 standing by at the stoning of Stephen and he said, Lord charge
06:03 not this sin against them. That prodded the heart of the Apostle
06:07 Paul and the Apostle Paul had to fight against it. I'm sure he
06:11 wrestled over the matter. But when it was all said and done
06:15 the best way he could find to silence that voice of conviction
06:19 was to just get all the more furious breathing threats and
06:23 murder. That's right. Breathe threats
06:24 and murder. So I think there's a lesson in that to us too.
06:29 Sometimes we try to drown conviction by being overly
06:34 adamant or overly dogmatic about something as if to prove that we
06:41 are right and sometimes we need to recognize that conviction
06:45 comes to each one of us in different areas of our life and
06:50 sometimes our responses can help to enlighten our minds that
06:54 maybe we need to stop and take a look at what's happening. Maybe
06:58 the Lord is speaking to us. Because I think that's a lesson
07:01 we can learn here. Apparently Saul didn't stop and say maybe
07:04 this what I'm experiencing in my heart is the Lord speaking to me
07:07 I think about a friend that I was studying the Bible with
07:13 once. We weren't talking anything about lifestyle or how
07:17 to live a godly life in that way. We were just talking about
07:21 simple things like the authority of the Bible and that sort of
07:25 thing and after one of the first Bible studies we had together
07:28 he started talking to me about this violent video game that he
07:31 had created and whether or not I thought that that was right or
07:35 wrong. I remember talking to him and saying, You know, I
07:38 don't think we've talked anything about that. So who's
07:42 been talking to you? Sometimes we need to recognize that the
07:47 voice of the Holy Spirit is active in our life.
07:49 That's right. You know, it's interesting, Jim, sometimes when
07:53 the Holy Spirit convicts us we can get that feeling that to
07:57 yield to that conviction is going to be too hard for us.
08:01 But if we would take a look at what happens when we don't yield
08:04 or even when we hesitate or delay in yielding. This is what
08:08 we see here with Saul. Not only did he lose his sight on the
08:12 road to Damascus here temporarily; it says there in
08:15 verse 9 that he was three days without sight and neither ate
08:20 nor drank. Now I can see not eating much and not having
08:23 appetite and I've had situations like that but not eating or
08:28 drinking. The whole ideas here is he is now having to deal with
08:33 the guilt, the immense of guilt... Keep in mind he was
08:37 putting to death the very people that he should have been
08:41 defending. He was thinking he was standing for the cause of
08:45 God and he was stamping out the cause of God. And now when he
08:49 comes to the realization of that he has to deal with the
08:52 aftermath and the anguish and the guilt of that and he can't
08:55 bring himself to eat or drink. So I say when the Holy Spirit
08:59 brings conviction sometimes we feel like the follow-through is
09:03 going to be difficult but the way of the transgressor is hard
09:06 the scripture says and it is much better to yield when the
09:10 Holy Spirit calls us, while it is still called the day, the
09:13 apostle says, than to put it off.
09:16 That's exactly right. If you look further now in verse 10
09:20 the story continues and Saul now has lost his sight and we have
09:27 a bit of a problem that needs to be dealt with. It says in verse
09:33 10, Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named
09:38 Ananias and to him the Lord said in a vision, Ananias, and he
09:42 said here I am Lord. So the Lord said to him, Arise and go to the
09:46 street called Straight and inquire at the house of Judas
09:49 for one called Saul of Tarsus. For behold he is praying and in
09:54 a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting
09:58 his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. This is a
10:03 fascinating account. First of all, notice that it says that
10:07 when the Lord comes to Ananias he says arise and go to a street
10:13 called Straight. So specific. You can't help but think that
10:18 there have been times when the Lord has sent his own servants
10:24 to our own street, to our own homes. I think often that when
10:30 I was studying my Bible in my own conversion experience in the
10:34 basement of my parents' home when I was 22 years old that the
10:39 Lord knew that. He knew the town I lived in, the street
10:43 I was on, the home I was in, the room in that home I was in and
10:47 he will come to us wherever we are. Here he says I have a
10:52 servant named Saul and he's praying and he needs a bit of a
10:57 revelation here. Now I wonder though, Saul was such an
11:00 educated man and he had received this clear revelation from God
11:07 on the road to Damascus. Why did the Lord not give him
11:10 instruction right there? Why did the Lord bring him into contact
11:15 with Ananias and send Ananias to him. God was connecting Saul
11:19 to the church and I find that while God works with us
11:24 independently and he certainly does work on our hearts
11:28 individually, just to take instructions from God is not all
11:33 that humbling. But to take instructions from another man
11:37 and to have someone else to whom we are accountable...
11:42 who has like passions and weaknesses...
11:44 Exactly who has those same weaknesses that we do, it can
11:49 be very, very humbling. So another point here is that
11:53 besides the fact that this is intended to help bring humility
11:56 to Saul, it also is helping him to see that God has established
12:01 a church and God, while he does work with people individually
12:06 outside of the church, his goal is to have one fold and to
12:10 connect people with that body. There is really no such thing as
12:14 a lone ranger Christian. No. In fact, Jim, we don't have
12:17 any record in the book of Acts which again is our template for
12:21 how church is done according to God, we don't have any record
12:24 in the book of Acts of somebody where God reached and converted
12:27 and they were baptized of the Spirit that was not put in
12:31 connection with the church, the organized church. We saw it with
12:34 the Ethiopian eunuch and we'll see it other places as we go on.
12:37 We never see somebody who's just independently sent off separate
12:42 from his church. So even someone as well educated as Saul, now he
12:46 comes into contact with people who maybe have less experience
12:50 and the like but they are instructing him. Ananias is
12:55 asked to instruct him. One thing I'm thankful for though is if
13:00 you look back at verse 6 when Saul first responded to the Lord
13:04 he said trembling and astonished Lord what do you want me to do?
13:09 So you know as hardened as we see Saul the Lord saw something
13:14 in him. He saw someone who was really thinking he was doing
13:19 God's service and while we may look at people and not be able
13:23 to see from the outside what's really going one and we may
13:27 judge in certain ways, the Lord knows when someone has the right
13:31 intent and he can turn somebody around just like Saul. Now it
13:35 may not have happened in this moment, it may have been a
13:38 process, but this is pretty dramatic, this conversion, and
13:42 God can do that for us. Well we need to keep going but before
13:45 we do we've got to go to break. So stay tuned and we'll be back
13:49 with you in just a moment with Books of the Book.


Revised 2014-12-17