Summary: Some of you will walk away today completely untouched or even offended by what you heard, others will be positively convicted. Either way you and I need to make a decision about how we want to be used. Like Saul, or like Paul?
The truth is God is using you. Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you know it or not, the sovereign God of the universe knows everyone and is orchestrating everything either by intervening or by taking his hands off. He uses all human beings to fulfill His purpose. The question becomes is he using you to build his kingdom, or to hamper the building of his Kingdom by allowing you to be led by the world and Satan, or by the Spirit of God. He allows both in His church, I don’t why, but He does, and I’m sure he has a good reason.
Let’s watch the first part of our Scripture passage today from Acts chap. 9.
Saul was a very devoted religious person, and he believed he was doing a service for the true God by capturing Christians and causing strife in the early church. And we see from this event that God can and will save and use anyone to build his church. It’s never too late even for those who are farthest from God.
We also see that true encounters with God will always be dramatic, this is God, they will change you, and they may not be comfortable. Now it might not be this dramatic, but it will change you. And encounters with God including your conversion, if indeed it was a true conversion, will always put you on mission for Him. Ask yourself, since you were saved, are you on mission for Him? Or are you a part of the Christian country club?
What about this whole blinding thing? It’s obviously metaphorical (not meaning that it didn’t happen) but it’s to show that before Christ got a hold of him he was blind to the truth, and it is Christ by His Spirit, who allows us to see clearly. And he may use people in the body of Christ to help make it happen as he does here with Ananias.
Also I think everyone has something in their life that needs to be healed by God. Maybe it’s an emotional issue, maybe physical, maybe behavioural, and God will want to do this healing after our conversion, as part of the sanctification process. I believe that if we haven’t healed the issues that Jesus wants to heal in us, we will struggle to be followers of him. It’s like a marriage, all your issues will come to the surface in your marriage, and if they are not dealt with, will greatly interfere with the quality of your marriage.
The same is true with our marriage to Christ, only he doesn’t have any issues.
As soon as Saul is restored he goes on mission. He is first immediately baptized, and then he goes preaching powerfully. Remember this preaching means proclaiming, and here with all the theological training he has, he is simply proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. All of us should be proclaiming that with our mouths whenever we can.
As we see in the last part of that video in verses 22-25, when the truth is proclaimed there will rise up people who want to refute this truth to the point of wanting to get rid of the preacher. So Paul had to escape because God wasn’t done with Him yet.
Now we know from the first chapter of his letter to the Galatians, that after this escape he spent three years in Arabia and Damascus before coming to Jerusalem. We see here that their must be a time of training after our conversion. Saul was well trained in religion prior to this, but he needed some sanctification time before he could be used to the extent that God wanted to use him.
And God will use other believers to help us heal and grow after we meet Jesus, if we let Him.
Paul himself says to Timothy that overseers in the church should not be recent converts. We sometimes wonder what recent means, but maybe here we see a possible approximate timeline. The book of Hebrews says a lot about growing in maturity as does Ephesians chapter 4.
Read vv 26-28. So another thing is that the church may have trouble accepting some new converts, especially if they have a notorious past. But we must "make disciples" regardless. We must be impartial if God puts someone in our midst and saves them, even if we’re a little afraid of them. Everybody needs a Barnabas to bring them to church.
And new converts, especially those who have had a real change of life, tend to share Christ more than older believers and those who didn’t have as dramatic a conversion experience. Big changes in a person helps our witness obviously.
Why did Saul continue to increase in strength as we read in verse 22? What is he doing?