The Journey of Faith Acts 9:1-22—
What we see is that this is happening at the same time as the story of Philip and the eunuch that we were talking about last week
Ya see The church had been growing in Jerusalem,
• But at same time resistance against the church had been growing as well
• It’s all seemed to come to a head following the death of Stephen,
• After Stephen is killed a great persecution starts,
• And the main person who is spearheading this is a Pharisee by the name of Saul
Now last week we saw that In Acts 8:1-3
• That Saul went from house to house, arresting men and women
• These people were Jesus-followers. / The Early Christians
• And Because of this people started getting scared and the church scattered
• That’s how Philip ended up in Samaria
Believers are leaving / Scattering to places throughout Judea and Samaria to Escape.
• Some of these people were so freaked out that they ran as far away as Damascus,
• And that was 130 miles away to the north.
• (ELAB HOW LONG AND FAR THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN IN THOSE DAYS)
ButSaul, was on a mission
• He was going to Damascus with the intention of arresting disciples / Early Christians
• His plans were to bringing them back to Jerusalem for trial.
• And It’s on this mission to Damascus
• That Saul is intercepted by God’s grace.
Saul was a man who had no idea he needed grace.
• He was born into an Jewish home, / Circumcised as an infant,
• He was a faithful Pharisee. / a Defender of his religion.
• And When it came to the legalities of Jewish law,
• His behavior was faultless.
When we look at Saul, on the surface he appears to be
• A successful, religious, righteous, self-made man,
• Who’s doing a fine job fulfilling the requirements of the law / What he’s supposed to
• He appears to be a shining example of purity and justice in his community.
So, with all this in mind Why did Saul need grace? - And, why do we need grace?
This is a good question
• If you’ve lived a pretty good life, If you’ve play by the rules,
• If you’ve done a good job raising your kids
• If you’ve gone to church regularly,
• If you’ve never really made any real mistakes in your life,
Then Why would we really need grace?
• And how would God’s grace impact our lives?
The question that we might ask is
• Have you had a transformational encounter with grace?
• Saul’s had an encounter with GRACE
• And that encounter was so great that it changed him so much that he had to change his name
• Because He was no longer the same person
We went from being Saul of Taurus to Paul the Apostle.
• And it was through this transformation process
• That Paul eventually realized that friendship with God is not earned,
• But received by faith.
Phil 3:9 I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
Question: So How can we experience a life-altering encounter with God’s grace?
1. We become aware of our own sin READ Acts 9:1-6
Now what we see here is that when Saul stands up he’s blind,
• He couldn’t see his hand in front of his face
• But at the same time I believe that he is seeing for the first time.
• He sees that he was fighting God instead of serving him.
• He sees that Jesus is the resurrected Lord and not a fake.
• And He sees that he has been the cancer in the synagogue, Not the Christian believers.
What we see here is A life-altering encounter with God’s grace
• And it Starts when we become aware of our own sinfulness.
• About just how sinful we are (Taking off the blindfold for the 1st time)
We do this a lot even though we don’t realize it
-Church splits (believe they are doing right)
-Living for family while losing family (ministry over family)
-Good Christian mom who is bitter towards ex-husband
It is an act of God’s grace when he makes us aware of our own sin.
2. We are awakened to God’s mercy Acts 9:10-19
Saul, the man who has been fighting God without realizing it,
• Is shown Mercy by God. (Parable of lost sheep, prodigal son)
John Newton was born in London, almost a half a century before the American Revolution,
• His mother possessed incredible spiritual qualities
• But unfortunately she died when he was six.
• Five years later at the age of 11 he went to sea with his father who was a ship’s captain.
• He became a midshipman and for a time led a pretty wild life,
• In fact his life was filled with disgrace.
• He rejected the God that his mother had taught him about
• In fact he didn’t think that there was any need for religion whatsoever
• And because of this he continued to live an irresponsible and sinful life.
• Eventually he became a slave trader,
• And his travels allowed him to cross the ocean several times
• As captain of a slave ship,
• He was responsible for terrible acts of towards
• The captives he crowded on board.
• But grace was always a factor in his life.
• He survived a deadly fever in Africa,
• He survived a terrible storm which almost killed him.
• And finally one day he was so dissatisfied with his life,
That he began reading the writings of Thomas à Kempis.
• Somehow, the Holy Spirit began stirring inside his soul,
• It began to awaken him from sin,
• Urging him toward salvation until he finally gave his heart to Christ.
His conversion was so powerful it mirrored that of Sauls
• And he felt a call from God to enter the ministry.
• He was eventually ordained in 1781
• And accepted a pastorate in Olney, England.
• But Newton’s disgraceful past never left his memory
• And he was completely dumbfounded over the privilege of living
• Free under the divine grace of God.
• In an intense moment of inspiration,
• When he was thinking about the wonder of the grace of God
• That had saved even a wretch like him,
• He wrote the hymn, "Amazing Grace"
3. We are made alive to our new calling READ Acts 9:20-22
This is a fulfillment of what was promised to Abraham,
• The father of the Jewish people where in Genesis 12:3 it says,
• All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”
Saul was given a Calling / a Purpose / a Mission.
• Saul the persecutor became Paul the Apostle.
• Eventually he would travel thousands of miles
• Just to bring the message of Jesus to the Mediterranean world.
• And The result is that our New Testament contains thirteen of his letters.
And a life-altering encounter with God’s grace will make us alive to a new calling!
• It’s through His grace that we will be transformed as well
• It’s through His forgiveness that we can forgive others
• And it’s through His undeserved mercy
• That we will be transformed from our suffocating anxiety
• To a life of prayer and trust.
• When we encounter God’s mercy in our lives
• It allows us to show mercy to others
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So today as we get ready to close all I have to ask is
• Have you really encountered God’s grace?
• Has he shown you the depth of your sin?
• Has he awakened you to the miracle of his mercy?
• Has he offered you a new and fuller life
• By giving you a calling richer than you have been pursuing?
And are you will to take Him up on his offer.