Summary: A message about the conversion of Paul.
A KILLER COMES TO CHRIST
TEXT: Acts 9:1-9
Acts 9:1 9 -- And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unt the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
l. SAUL OF TARSUS
A. Marked by Separation
-Paul was marked by separation. It was a separation that went beyond the ordinary. Consider:
Romans 1:1 -- Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Galatians 1:15 -- But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
-Perhaps when the common man saw Paul, dressed almost shabbily, living his life among the poor, they might have taken him for what he appeared to be; but when they came to know him, they found an unequaled intensity about his mission.
B. It Was Not Always So
-But it was not always so. It was the terrible Saul of Tarsus before he became the Apostle Paul. The tremendous capabilities of his mind stretch into an understanding that was not rivaled by his peers. They sat in utter amazement as Saul would quote the whole portions of Job, of Isaiah, of Ezekiel, and then enlighten their own minds as to the content.
-He was a student who sat at the feet of Gamaliel. Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of the Law in that era, found himself challenged by the remarkable young student, this Saul of Tarsus. But there was something so significant about his Saul of Tarsus in that he lived in ignorance and unbelief (which are his own words, not mine).
-The finest of minds, the best of educators, the finest of books, and yet still this man lived in spiritual darkness. It brings a chill to the soul, to realize that here in this room right now, are those who week in and week out attend places of worship. They are seemingly involved in worship and all the trappings of church and never have understood the importance of being filled with the Spirit.
-For it was this Law of God that Paul:
Reasoned out so well.
Debated with such mastery.
Taught with such skill.
Preached with such intensity and feeling.
-But all of it to Paul:
So full of life yet so empty.
So full of passion yet so empty of his emotions.
So full of conviction yet no conversion.
So full of concepts but void of love.
So full of hope yet so troubled.
-All of that was to change. It changed on the day that a killer came to Christ. For you see, the great Saul of Tarsus hated the young church. As of yet it is only two or three years old and growing very quietly in Jerusalem. At first the authorities had been inclined to persecute it, but having checked with the teachers of the day, decided to let it live and it would die out as quickly as it had been born.
-It was sort of a truce that developed between the church and the teachers. Under the advice of Gamaliel, the leaders quietly observed and the Christians made as little offense as possible. But the Church never has been and never will be able to keep a truce. For locked up inside of the apostolic church is a world-conquering drive that forces it to touch, almost as the leaven of Matthew 13, everything it comes into contact with.
-After a short while, there arose a man in the apostolic church who was as aggressive because the Bible says that he was "full of the Holy Ghost." On the fateful day he stood up to preach. Preach with force and preach with power. His message led to his execution. The offenders of the church herded him to outskirts of town and hurled stones on him until he had been killed.