Summary: Our Sovereign Lord is able to abduct, smite, and transform.
Becoming Blind to See
1. Kokomo Tribune writer Scott Smith wrote an article for the Kokomo Tribune headlined, "Dam destruction part of Wildcat Creek’s revival." It reads:
"The water upstream from the old Continental Steel dam looks almost stagnant. The streambed is deep, and the surface untroubled. But the lack of rills and whitewater along that stretch of the Wildcat Creek troubles Garry Hill, a founding member of the Wildcat Guardians advocacy group. Any kind of old, small dam like that does nothing but create an unnatural situation in the streambed,” Hill said Tuesday. “The sediment collected behind the dam becomes a collection of everything a community puts into a river." Remove the dam, and the creek will return to its natural channel, Hill said. The stagnant smells upstream at Foster Park will disappear. Small rapids will begin to appear where before everything was placid. Next month, Hill will be on hand to witness the destruction of the concrete structure, which now sits in the middle of the Wildcat along Park Road."
2. Sometimes it takes a radical removal of something to make a positive change.
3. The same is true in the realm of individual lives. Sometimes our God has to act in major ways to begin the process of transforming a sinner into a saint, a skeptic into a believer, a rebel into a follower. In all cases, the new birth is a miracle.
Main Idea: Our Sovereign Lord is able to abduct, smite, and transform.
I. The Great TRANSITION
The conversion of Saul is so crucial Luke repeats it three times from different angles.
A. Saul, the thorough and LEGAL persecutor (1-2)
1. Personally fierce (1a)
The word "still" makes us pause.
• Despite the stoning of Stephen, Saul’s wrath was not relieved.
• Despite the scattering of the church, Saul was not satisfied.
• Despite the testimony of those he persecuted, he was unfazed.
• We might say that his appetite for persecution was increasing.
Paul had studied under the Rabbi Gamaliel, but, unlike Gamaliel who was patient and gentle, Paul was young, idealistic, aggressive a no-nonsense crusader. He took it upon himself to prevent what he viewed as a new cult, a new heresy -- from defiling Judaism.
2. Followed protocol (1b-2)
Acts 26:4-11, “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them . And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
3. Note that early believers were called "The Way."
Julie Ackerman recalls asking, " How did everything get so dirty so fast?" I grumbled as I dusted the glass tabletop. "I had the whole house clean a month ago."
"Cleaning is a way of life, not an event," my husband responded.
I know he’s right, but I hate to admit it. I want to clean the house once and have it stay that way. But dirt doesn’t surrender that easily. Speck by speck, the dust returns. Piece by piece, the clutter piles up.
Being part of God’s "Way" is both an event and a way of life. Jesus is the way of salvation, as He made clear in John 14:6. But commitment to Him demands a way -- a pattern of living -- as He has directed in His Word.
B. Saul is abducted by SOVEREIGN GRACE (3-4)
1. Damascus, Syria, about 135 miles north of Jerusalem
2. Persecuting a Christian is persecuting Christ
Matthew 25:40, ""The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"
C. The Living Christ CONFRONTS him (5)
Paul must have thought, "So the rumors about the resurrection were true! What have I been doing?"
Paul had viewed himself as the servant of God, the righteous one. He was preventing the spread of a spiritual gangrene, from his perspective. Now, in a flash, he realized that he was the unrighteous one, fighting against God.