Other than Jesus Himself, there has been no more influential person in the development of the Christian faith than the Apostle Paul. He authored a majority of the books that make up the New Testament, carried the Gospel throughout Asia and into Europe, defined and defended a new understanding of God’s covenant, and built the framework for Christian theology. But a closer look at Paul also reveals him as the most unlikely champion of Christianity. His encounter with the resurrected Jesus transformed him from one of the church’s most zealous persecutors to its greatest defender. What can we learn from this man of faith and how can his example help us on our journey to discipleship? Join us this Sunday as Pastor Gary Webber kicks off a summer-long sermon series exploring the life and times of the Apostle Paul.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?”
And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
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.Acts 9:1-22 (ESV)
Who was Saul of Tarsus?
- Acts 7:58-8:3; Acts 22 & 26
What happened to him?
- He was suddenly and unexpectedly transformed by an encounter with the resurrected Jesus (verses 2-9)
- He had been chosen and prepared by God to be His instrument (verses 10-16)
- He was transformed from the church’s greatest critic to its greatest defender (verses 17-22)
Why does it matter? (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
- Paul’s story reminds us that religious fervor does not determine spiritual truth. (Acts 26:14)
- Paul’s story reminds us that no one is so far gone that Jesus cannot reach them. (Acts 9:13-14)
- Paul’s story reminds us that to identify with Jesus is to identify with His suffering. (Acts 9:16; Phil 3:10-11)
Day 1: Acts 7:54-8:3
Day 2: Acts 9:1-22
Day 3: Acts 26
Day 4: Acts 22:1-21
Day 5: Galatians 1
Day 6: 1 Timothy 1