Summary: A real vision of Jesus catapults a person toward constant transformation. Notice how a genuine encounter with Jesus changes us: 1. It changes what we see. 2. It changes what we hear and do. 3. It changes what we become.

Become more like Jesus

Acts 9:1-25

October 30, 2016

A real vision of Jesus catapults a person toward constant transformation.

Notice how a genuine encounter with Jesus changes us:

1. It changes what we see. Vv.1-9

2. It changes what we hear and do. Vv.10-19

3. It changes what we become. Vv.20-25

Most of us here this morning claim to be Christ-followers. I prefer the term Christ-follower to the term Christian because there are millions of people who call themselves Christians who have no real intention or desire to follow Jesus.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He called them to follow Him. In Matthew 4 He said, “Follow Me” to Peter and Andrew—and they left their nets and followed Him. In Luke 5 He said to Matthew, “Follow Me”—and he left his tax table and followed Jesus. In Matthew 16 Jesus said, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

I know many of you call yourself Christians, but honestly, if you’re not following Jesus, living, spending, speaking, acting like Jesus--if you’re not denying yourself and dying to self so that you can live for Jesus, then you are tragically self-deluded.

Christ-followers follow Jesus. Imagine that! Now, I’m not saying that we do it perfectly—that’s what grace is all about, right? But the genuine Christ-follower has it deep in his/her heart to walk with Jesus, please Jesus, follow Jesus, and become more like Jesus.

A real vision of Jesus catapults a person toward constant transformation. There’s no, “Yea, I guess I am a Christian” There’s no showing up to church when it’s convenient. There’s no half-hearted worship when you are in church. If you really know Jesus, you’re never the same. It changes everything about you.

Turn with me to Acts 9:1-25 If you’ve been around Rush Creek any time at all, you’ve seen our vision statement. And it begins with the phrase, We want to become more like Jesus.

If you’re a true Christ-follower, you want to become more like Jesus. The thought captivates you and motivates you to be like Him….to imitate Him. When I was in 6th grade, moved to a new part of town. Guy down the street Creekmore/Creeky Scott. So cool. Wanted to be just like him. Shoes/tips up; pants legs turned under; certain kind of bike. Wanted to be just like him.

As Christ-followers, our number one desire is to be imitators of Jesus—want to be just like Him. And our passage today sets the tone and the scope of what true salvation means in a life.

vv.1-3 “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest 2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Acts 9:1-4

Many of you know that the man in this story, Saul, later is known in the Bible as Paul, who would end up becoming one of the Apostles and writing much of the New Testament, 13 books in all.

‘threats and murder’ 30 years later, Paul admitted that he had been involved in martyring Christ followers (Acts 22:4) He was so dedicated to the cause that he began to export his hatred toward Christ-followers into other countries and cities.

‘Damascus’ 130 miles NE of Jerusalem

‘synagogues’ Early Christians still saw themselves very much Jewish and so they congregated like other Jews at synagogues.

‘The Way’ This was an early term used for Christianity. Why “The Way”? Christ-followers were on a different path; Jesus had said, “I am the Way” (John 14:6) You want to know the way to God? The way to life? The way to purpose? Jesus is the way.

‘Persecute Me?’ Saul writes years later in 1 Cor. 9:1 that he indeed saw the Lord Jesus. Jesus was there in some kind of physical or observable form.

Notice that Jesus made no distinction between Him and His church. Jesus did not say, “Why are you persecuting my church?” He said, “Why are you persecuting Me?” I get a little tired of folks believing that a church is man-made thing and therefore something not to be cherished and valued: “Oh, I’m ok with God, just not His church.” Or, “We shouldn’t let people know about what the church is doing—let’s just talk about what God is doing.” Listen, the Scripture talks about the church in exalted terms, most significantly, The Bride of Christ. When Sue and I got married, the Scripture says that we became one flesh. We are one. You treat my wife with disrespect, you treat my wife with disdain, and you’ll have me to answer to. How much more then is the relationship between Jesus and HIS Bride.

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