Summary: TO UNDERSTAND THE BOOK OF ROMANS, YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF GRACE THAT CHANGED THE AUTHOR FROM SAUL TO PAUL. THIS IS A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HIS JOURNEY AND ENCOUNTER WITH GRACE
Paul, Christ’s Slave
Romans 1:1 -- Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God
I. Meet Saul, the Killer
a. When we first see Paul, the author of half the New Testament, he is called by another name – Saul
i. Like many whose encounter with God changed their name, so is Saul
ii. Abram became Abraham
iii. Jacob became Israel
iv. Simon became Peter
b. Grace has such a transforming power that it changes the identity, character, and name of these men
c. Acts 7:58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
d. Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
e. The book of Romans is written by an author that we know as a saint, apostle and father of the church
f. But the early church had the history of knowing him in his pre-grace state
g. God’s grace was so scandalous poured out on the greatest enemy of the church, a murderer of the first martyr Stephen
h. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners because of his past sins
i. It would be like if the great terrorists names of today (Bin Ladin, Khadafi, Ahmejinidab, were saved)
j. We should consider no one outside the reach of grace
k. Maybe what our generation needs is a Saul type conversion to shake the nations with the grace of God
II. Saul is Converted
a. Acts 9
i. Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest
ii. 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.
iii. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
iv. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
v. “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
vi. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
vii. The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
viii. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
ix. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
x. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” "Yes, Lord,” he answered.
xi. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
xii. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
xiii. “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.
xiv. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
xv. But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.
xvi. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
xvii. Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
xviii. Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
b. God gave Saul a vision of Ananias coming before he spoke to Ananias – trusted his servant
c. Ananias asked the Lord “I have heard many reports. . . .” Are you sure?
d. God’s shocking grace that disturbs even those who are His channels with whom He saves!
e. This story is retold by Saul/Paul many times and has many Roman guards, centurions, and governors shaken by grace
III. Saul Begins to Preach
a. Saul’s radical transformation changes him from murder to evangelist overnight
b. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.