Summary: Conversion of Paul. What do we need to learn from it?
Pastor Allan Kircher
Shell Point Baptist Church
Series: Acts: God’s vision and power for Shell Point Baptist.
Well-Known Sinner Meets Un-Known Saint
Some things just seem to GO TOGETHER naturally
• House FULL of family and plates FULL of good food.
• Popcorn and a good movie, coffee and conversation
• You know what I'm talking about.
We are used to COMPLIMENTARY things like this going together-
Sometimes it makes it hard for us to understand that many times in the Kingdom of God seemingly UNCOMPLIMENTARY things-even opposite things-go together.
Remember? Jesus taught that,
• "The FIRST shall be LAST."
• "We GET by GIVING"
• "We begin to really LIVE when we learn to DIE to self.”
I call this "the principle of oxymoronic truth" because OXYMORONS are seeming opposites that complement each other-
When this happens in the Kingdom of God, powerful TRUTH is revealed.
There are at least two examples of this principle to be found in today's text, Acts 9:1-31. Let’s look at the first of two oxymoronic truths in this text.
1. Our HOLY God can use a well-known SINNER like Paul.
The last person we would think our Holy God using would be an infamous SINNER like Saul-but of course He did.
The AMAZING grace of God
• Saul-or Paul Became the greatest missionary ever-his life was powerfully used by God!
• "HOLY GOD" and "KNOWN SINNER"-two phrases just don't seem to go together do they?
• Plus-Saul wasn't just your typical, every day sinner.
• He did horrible things before he became a Christian.
• Paul himself admitted that, he was the "the worst of sinners." (1 Timothy 1:16).
Historians agree with his self-assessment because in his early days he set himself up as the ARCH-ENEMY of the early church.
• Think of him as Superman's LEX LUTHOR
• Sherlock Holmes' DR MORIARTY rolled into one
• Originally his sole purpose in life was to destroy the church.
Do you remember what the members of the synagogue in Damascus said about him? Look back at verse 21. Referring to Saul they said: "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?"
Saul made it his goal to find, arrest, and even execute all Christians.
• Persecuting followers of The Way consumed him.
• Now, why was Saul like this?
• How did he end up the most well-known religious terrorist of his day?
Well, to answer this question we need to look back at Saul's upbringing.
A. grew up in Tarsus-a city that was located on the main trade route between the Orient and Rome.
B. Saul's father was a tent-maker/lived in a city where caravans were constantly coming and going
This brought them great wealth.
Used this vast wealth to give son/best education possible
John Pollock, author of The Apostle: A Life of Paul, describes Saul's early life like this:
• "Paul's parents were Pharisees, members of the party most fervent in Jewish nationalism and strict in obedience to the Law of Moses.
• They sought to guard their offspring against contamination.
• Friendships with Gentile children were discouraged.
• Greek ideas were despised.
Though Paul could speak Greek from infancy, and though he had a working knowledge of Latin, at home his family spoke Aramaic, the language of Judea, a derivative of Hebrew.
They looked to Jerusalem as Islam looks to Mecca.
By his 13th birthday, Paul mastered Jewish history, the poetry of the Psalms, and the majestic literature of the prophets...
• For 5 years he was taught by Gamaliel.
• He became skilled rabbi preacher
• Part lawyer/prosecuted those broke sacred law.
So understand-due to his strict Jewish upbringing and Gamaliel's rigorous instruction Saul had become a very PROUD man-especially when it came to his Jewish heritage.
He knew the Jewish Scriptures like the back of his hand
• including all the prophesies about the coming Messiah
• But like his proud Jewish peers, Saul misinterpreted them.
The mere suggestion that a Galilean peasant, Who had wound up being crucified by the Romans would be God's Anointed, seemed to Saul to be an absolute insult to Judaism.
• Saul thought he was doing a good thing.
• He thought he was persecuting the church in the name of God.
• He knew the Scriptures but his flawed interpretation justified his actions.
Now make sure you understand the problem here.
Saul had head knowledge. His parents had taken special care to insure He had RELIGION but he didn't have a RELATIONSHIP with God.
All he had was an inherited, ethnic faith.
Parents, pay special attention here.
• Teach our children the doctrines of Christianity
• Understand the morals and ethics that go with our faith.