Summary: This sermon illustrates the necessity of personal evangelism and our atttitudes towards it.
From Persecuting to Preaching
May 26, 2002
A. [Transformed by an Elevator, Citation: Owen Bourgaize, Castel, Guernsey, United Kingdom]
A family from a remote area was making their first visit to a big city.
They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight.
Leaving the reception desk they came to the elevator entrance.
They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for.
An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside.
The door closed.
About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman.
Dad couldn’t stop staring.
Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, "Go get your mother, son."
1. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2. When Christ comes into a person’s life He makes all things new.
3. He will pull off the elevator trick as well when He returns!
B. Today we come to the story of a man who was transformed into a new creation.
1. His name was Saul and his story is in Acts 9.
2. This is the same man whose name was later changed to Paul and wrote over half the New Testament.
3. But before He met Christ, he was a totally different man and today we will look at the difference Christ made in his life.
4. The first thing we see about Saul is that…
I. Saul was moving against Christ.
Acts 9:1-2, Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
A. The text says that Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against followers of "the Way."
1. "The Way" refers to the Way of Jesus Christ.
2. "The Way" to heaven is through Jesus Christ.
3. He was "still" breathing out threats refers to other passages of Scriptures that we’ve already studied that tell of Saul’s persecution of believers.
4. Acts 7:58 tells us that when the religious people got upset with Stephen, they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
5. Then Acts 8:1-3, And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
6. The rest of Acts 8 tells us some stories about Philip’s ministry in two different places during this scattering of the believers.
7. But then Acts 9:1, 2 reminds us that Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
B. Now I must say a few things about Saul.
1. Saul was a believer in God.
2. In Acts 22:3-5, Paul described himself at this time, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
3. Paul said there that at this time in Acts 9, he was a Jew; he was a believer in God.
4. Paul said he was thoroughly trained in the law.
5. He was thoroughly trained under the most respected teacher in the land: Gamaliel.
6. He said he was zealous for God; he was very strongly passionate about God.
7. His was not just a "go-to-church-every-week-and-mind-your-own-business" kind of belief, his was a passionately active kind of belief.
8. He was passionately serious about his belief in God.
9. That’s what Paul means by being zealous.