Summary: Have you truly encountered God’s grace? Has he revealed to 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? And are you will to take Him up on his offer.
The Journey of Faith
• The church is flourishing in Jerusalem,
• But resistance is intensifying,
• It’s all starting to come to a head following the death of Stephen,
• Stephen can be viewed as the church’s first martyr.
• And after he is killed a great persecution starts,
• And the main person who is fueling this is a Pharisee by the name of Saul
Now In Acts 8:1-3 we see that
• Saul went from house to house, arresting men and women
• And these people were Jesus-followers.
• Because of this people started getting scared and the church scattered
• They left and went to places throughout Judea and Samaria.
• 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)
And Saul, was on a mission
• He didn’t want to see Christianity thrive anywhere,
• So he headed north to Damascus and started arresting disciples
• And he started bringing them back to Jerusalem for trial.
• And It’s on this obsessive 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 observant Jewish home,
• He was circumcised as an infant,
• He was a faithful and enterprising Pharisee.
• And He was a zealous defender of his religion.
• When it came to the legalities of the Jewish law,
• His behavior was faultless.
When we look at Saul he appears to be
• A successful, religious, righteous, self-made man,
• Who’s doing just fine meeting the requirements of the law
• And living as a shining example of purity and justice in his community.
So, 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,
• And you’ve never really had any major slipups in your life,
Why would you really need grace?
• And how would God’s grace impact your life?
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
• He was no longer the same person
• We went from being Saul of Taurus into 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.
Philippians 7-9The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness.
Philippians 3:9 (CEV)
I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses.
God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ.
Question: So How can we experience a life-altering encounter with God’s grace?
1. We become aware of our own sin
Acts 9:1-6 (NLT)
1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Now when Saul stands up he’s physically blind,
• But even though he couldn’t see a hand in front of his face