Summary: Saul is stopped on the Road to Damascus.
Acts 9:1 – 9:9
Jeff Hughes – June 14, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. As we begin our study today, not only are we starting a new chapter of Acts, but we are seeing a transition period in the early church. In Acts chapter 1 verse 8, we see Jesus telling the apostles that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
b. In the first seven chapters, we see the church reaching out in Jerusalem. In chapter 8, we see the church scattered through persecution, and the gospel being spread into the surrounding countryside, and to the Samaritans.
c. Starting in chapter 9 though, we see God begin to move the church into other areas throughout the Roman Empire. The apostles were the instrument, the tool that God used to reach the city of Jerusalem. Philip was the tool to reach the Samaritans, and one Ethiopian eunuch, we saw that last week.
d. The tool that God chooses to carry His gospel throughout the Roman Empire was a very unlikely one. He is a man we are already acquainted with. We saw him back in Acts chapter 7, at the stoning of Stephen. Verse 58 tells us that the mob that was stoning Stephen laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. We read further in chapter 8 verse 1 that Saul was there consenting to his death.
e. Saul becomes God’s tool by giving his life to Christ. He was radically changed, as we all are when we come to Christ. His life was so changed that he got a new name, Paul. I may slip a few times and call him that today, because when I think about this man, I think about the man that he became through the grace of God rather than the man he was.
f. He tells us later on, in Acts chapter 26 that when he was hunting down Christians and killing them, that he cast his vote against them, to condemn the Christians to death, which tells us that he was a member of the Sanhedrin.
g. To be a member of the Sanhedrin, you had to be married, so Saul was married. Church tradition tells us that Saul’s wife left him after his conversion. So here he was, an educated Jew, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, walking away from it all to follow Jesus.
h. What events would have to take place for a man to give up everything he has ever known to follow Christ? It must have been big. It was. Saul came face to face with the resurrected Jesus Christ and along with radically altering Saul’s life, it radically altered the church. And even the entire world. We will begin to look at this even today, in a two part message entitled Saul’s Transformation.
i. But first, let’s pray, and ask the Lord to bless our study this morning.
a. It is hard to believe now, but the potato was once a highly unpopular food. When first introduced into England by Sir Walter Raleigh, newspapers printed editorials against it, ministers preached sermons against it, and the general public wouldn’t touch it. It was supposed to sterilize the soil in which it had been planted and cause all manner of strange illnesses—even death.
b. There were, however, a few brave men who did not believe all the propaganda being shouted against it. It was seen as an answer to famine among the poorer classes and as a healthful and beneficial food. Still, these few noblemen in England could not persuade their tenants to cultivate the potato. It was years before all the adverse publicity was overcome and the potato became popular.
c. A Frenchman named Parmentier took a different tack. He had been a prisoner of war in England when he first heard of the new plant. His fellow prisoners protested the outrage of having to eat potatoes. Parmentier, instead, thoughtfully inquired about the methods of cultivating and cooking the new food. Upon his return to France, he procured an experimental farm from the Emperor, in which he planted potatoes.
d. When it was time to dig them, at his own expense, he hired a few soldiers to patrol all sides of his famous potato patch during the daytime. Meanwhile he conducted distinguished guests through the fields, digging a few tubers here and there, which they devoured with evident relish. At night, he began to withdraw the guards. A few days later one of the guards hastened to Parmentier with the sad news that peasants had broken into the potato patch at night, and dug up most of the crop.
e. Parmentier was overjoyed, much to the surprise of his informant, and exclaimed, “When the people will steal in order to procure potatoes, their popularity is assured.”