Summary: A study of the book of Acts 9: 20 - 43
Acts 9: 20 - 43
20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He Is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus Is The Christ. 23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. 26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. 31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
As I was going over this chapter I kept putting myself in the positions of the Christian leadership in Jerusalem. We just read about Saul’s conversion from the chief persecutor and murderer to now a brother in Christ. What would be your reaction if your were involved? Mine would be, ‘Oh sure, we can sure trust him now as one of us.” So, how do we know when to let our guards down and accept someone into fellowship who says that he had a jail house experience and has now committed his life to our Lord Jesus Christ?
I think something that just happened relates to the point I am trying to make. Shortly after the shooting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, I overheard many asking why someone would do something like that. Was the killer part of some terror organization? Did he have too many gambling debts? Was he just mentally ill? As I listened, I began to see that a simpler answer was staring us in the face. It was then that I spoke with the group and said that the answer to the “why” was rather simple: he was evil.
Wait. Someone kills 58 people and injures (directly or indirectly) hundreds of others and the best I can come up with to their questions was because he is evil! I take that as a God given opportunity to analyze my thinking for holes by going back to the Word. What sort of thinking would lead someone to make that statement? What seemed so obvious to me seemed to be perplexing to those around me and I needed to know why.
The answer to the question of if the gunman was evil is found in Matthew 7:16–20, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Our Lord made clear in this passage that the actions of a man and the man’s heart cannot be separated. Contrary to the pagan Greek dualism of the day which proclaimed the mind as good [higher] and the physical as evil [lower], Christ tears down this false and abstract thinking with the concrete realities of His creation. Sin and evil are not things in and of themselves. They cannot exist on their own. To think so is to assume as fact that evil is having equality in scope as the same with good as Eastern mysticism does today with the yin-yang type thinking. Sin is an action that proceeds from an evil heart not inherent to the physical creation. Take away the person and you have no sin. Indeed, this is covered in a multitude of places in Scripture such as: