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.