Summary: 1. I stop relying on my own righteousness (vs. 1-2). 2. God gets my attention (vs. 3-4). 3. I learn that Jesus is Lord (vs. 4-5). 4. I don’t just get religion; I get a relationship (vs. 4-5). 5. I begin to follow the Lord’s leadership (vs. 6-9).
How to Know I Am Saved
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 19, 2014
*Tonight, we will explore one of the most important meetings in all of human history: The meeting that took place on the road to Damascus, when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to the Christ-hating radical Jew, Saul of Tarsus. I can think of no other meeting in the New Testament that had more impact on God's Word, on our lives, and on our world.
*John Phillips helps us understand Paul's mindset as he left Jerusalem for Damascus. Phillips said, "Our attention is now drawn back to Saul of Tarsus and his campaign of persecution against the church, instigated by the boldness and martyrdom of Stephen.
*Saul was an intellectual giant, farsighted enough to see that there could be no peaceful coexistence between militant Judaism and militant Christianity. Whatever his teacher Gamaliel might have advised about moderation, Saul saw the incompatibility of the two faiths.
*Either Judaism was right and Christianity was apostasy, or Christianity was right and Judaism was obsolete. Saul’s birth, beliefs, and background all drove him into a head-on confrontation with the Christians. He concluded, logically enough from his own biased point of view, that Christ was a blasphemer and Christianity a cult. Because Jesus of Nazareth was dead, nothing could be done about Him. Christianity, however, was something else; the sooner it was dead and buried too, the better for everyone.
*We can see how Saul arrived at his conclusion. Jesus had not only claimed to be Israel’s Messiah, but had claimed to be the Son of God. Yet He had died on a Roman cross. The Jewish law said, 'Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree' (Galatians 3:13). Jesus had been hanged on a tree, and so He was cursed by God and could in no way have been the Son of God. He therefore was a blasphemer, and the sooner the semi-Jewish cult devoted to His worship was eradicated, the sooner Judaism and the world would be purged of a terrible heresy.
*Such would have been Saul’s reasoning. . . So in vs. 1, we see Saul 'breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.' The word for 'slaughter' is the Greek word 'phonos,' which occurs ten times in the New Testament, and which is always translated 'murder' except here and in Hebrews 11:37. Saul now set himself to get rid of the church by means of intimidation and murder." (1)
*With this background in mind, let's stand in honor of God's Word, as we read Acts 1:1-9.
*We surely are looking at one of the most important meetings in all of human history. And in these pivotal verses, Saul thought he was on the road to Damascus. But he was about to take an upward turn onto the road to Heaven!
*God was about to start turning the Christ-hating Saul into the Apostle Paul. And Saul was saved. But what does it mean to be saved? And how can I know that I am saved? God's Word shows us in this Scripture.
1. First: I stop relying on my own righteousness.
*We cannot be saved until we stop relying on our own righteousness. Saul was certainly relying on his own virtue in vs. 1-2:
1. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
2. and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
*When it came to religion, nobody ever tried harder than Saul. No one was ever more zealous. Years later, Paul described how we was before and after he met the Lord. It was a total transformation, and a total transfer of where Paul placed his trust.
*In Philippians 3:1-9, Paul wrote:
1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
3. For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
4. though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5. circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6. concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.