Summary: An Exposition of Acts 9:20-31, related to the beginning of the ministry of Paul in Damascus
Text: Acts 9:20-31, Title: A Slow Start, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/20/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: One of Lynn’s biographical anecdotes for the children, tell about the church the other day who decided not to call their members “members,” but to call them bi-vocational staff. So everyone who joined was issued a employee handbook and given a title, such as “the minister to Paulk Rd” or the “minister of kitchen supplies” or “the pastor of van missions.”
B. Background to passage: After Paul’s Damascus Road conversion, he does what all believers should do, enters immediately into ministry. After these eleven verses, Paul is not seen or heard from until Acts 11:25.
C. Main thought: in the text we will see four aspects of Paul’s ministry
A. The Message of His Ministry (v. 20-22, 29)
1. Paul’s message was simple, offensive, and clear. He was preaching that Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God. He was bold in his proclamation, as well as his apologetics. With his incredible knowledge of the scriptures, he was “proving” that Jesus was the One for whom they waited. Paul didn’t look for common ground this time, he took the battle right to its most disputed point. And notice that over time, he was growing stronger in the ministry that the Lord had appointed him to.
2. 1 Cor 1:23, 2:2-5, 2 Cor 4:5, Eph 3:8,
3. Illustration: at the bottom of all my notes you will find a question: is Jesus Christ exalted, magnified, honored, and glorified? Tell of Judy’s evangelistic encounter with a terminally ill person with the degenerative disease, and the criticism she received for not simply being a friend, tell about the JWs who came to my door and I just got right to the point, cross in the bag
4. The content of Christian preaching should be Jesus as the all-sufficient Son of God, Savior of the World, and Lord of Glory. Jesus Christ is the gospel! He is the treasure! He is the all-satisfying, omnipotent, Wonderful Counselor. Preaching should not be evaluated upon the preacher’s ability to say on the right clichés and get lots of “amens.” Preachers have a culture around here of things to say that will guarantee a response. Preaching needs to be evaluated upon how well it expounds on the truth of the Word to the honor of Christ and the fame of His Name. We must as well take the battle where it lies. Therefore, we must become skilled in apologetics. Parents, you must teach children why we believe. You must also be able to teach and demonstrate a consistent worldview. Children and young people if you are faced with those who don’t believe in God, argue for that. Are you better at the ministry that God has called you to today than you were two years ago? Have them write down the four best Christological passages in the NT. Get some little crosses for the lunch bags.
B. The Preparation of His Ministry (v. 23)
1. All that this verse states is that many days elapsed. But Galatians and 2 Corinthians note that he spent almost three years in Nabetean Arabia in preparation for ministry. We are not sure exactly what he did there, but we know that it was not sitting in a cave in the desert. For when he returned, not only did the Jews in Damascus want him dead, the Nabetean King Aretus did too. So more than likely, Paul had been engaging in some sort of evangelistic ministry while there. It was on the job training.
2. Rom 14:8, Philip 1:21,
3. Illustration: prepare Ziploc bags of flour, salt, baking powder, nuts to talk about the preparation time for those little thumb-print cookies in the fridge overnight, Donald Haley, the little boy’s father, answered the door. When faced with the neatly-dressed stranger he simply asked, “Can I help you?” Suddenly, a little boy appeared between his father’s legs, peering up at the stranger’s face. “Yes, I’m Dwight Eisenhower and I’d like to meet your son.” The little boy scampered out to the limo and the president showed him the car and allowed him to sit in it. They parted with a handshake and a hug. All the while Donald Haley stood in the doorway awestruck. His neighbors are still talking about it to this day.
4. Sometimes there are seasons of preparation for ministry. Sometimes people go to school for ministry. Sometimes God uses life experience as preparation. And sometimes He just says to get right on it. But it is always important to prepare for a venture with God. Our existence was and is so that God may be glorified whether we live or die, so we must not fail to prepare for the greatest mission of our existence. But even time waiting on God to act should not be spent napping for the kingdom. Wherever we are there is always ministry to be done.