Summary: Paul had all the passion and righteous anger for God, and it was all wrong. Jesus had to correct Paul’s path and destiny to make him the man he was supposed to be. Paul’s religion got in the way of what was more important; a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus Confronts a Religious Man
Prairie Baptist Church – 12/13/09
Text: Acts 9:1-9
Key verse: Acts 9:5 - And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Premise: Paul had all the passion and righteous anger for God, and it was all wrong. Jesus had to correct Paul’s path and destiny to make him the man he was supposed to be. Paul’s religion got in the way of what was more important; a relationship with Jesus.
A woman testified to the transformation in her life that had resulted through her experience in conversion. She declared, "I’m so glad I got religion. I have an uncle I used to hate so much I vowed I’d never go to his funeral. But now, why, I’d be happy to go to it any time."
Paul, here is on a mission, to eradicate a very dangerous cult.
He desires to see all of these believers in Jesus shut up or killed
He believes that should take care of the problem.
Jesus had the awesome task of cracking a religious nut.
Today, we have a similar problem in the work in regard to religion.
Christianity is not about religion, but relationship
Religion is man doing his best to make himself acceptable to God (It won’t happen)
Christianity is God sending His best (Jesus) so man can have a relationship with Him (by grace through faith in Jesus Christ).
Proper and true religion comes only after a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior.
Paul runs full force into the path of Jesus and is forever changed.
1. The Poison of False Religion
A. Leads to wrong thinking and action – 9:1-2
i. There was hatefulness and murderous intent in Paul’s heart
ii. Much harm has been done in the name of religion
iii. Sometimes, we can even do harm to each other over what we think is proper religious intent.
B. It may be sincere, but sincerely wrong
i. Paul, no doubt was sincere, but had a misplaced sincerity
ii. He had a zeal for God, but did not see God’s plan fulfilled in Christ
iii. He saw “the way” as a dangerous cult that needed to be eradicated.
iv. Years later, Paul would preach to some with this same message - Acts 17:22 - Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
C. It is void of grace
i. At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead. Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.”
ii. Gal. 1:13-15 - 13For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
iii. Human religion is a divinely graceless belief system
iv. Where anyone believes that God is pleased with works for salvation has not grasped the concept of grace for “by grace are you saved.”
D. It’s worship is for show, not genuine
i. Is. 1:11-15 - 11“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12“When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.