Saul has been converted by the Lord Jesus from an enemy of the church, a violent aggressing persecutor to a faithful preacher. We’ll see how the persecutor has become the persecuted.
Luke shows us a pattern of Saul’s preaching…it goes, Preaching, Plot to Kill Saul, and Saul’s Escape. Notice with me the cycle that takes place. Children look to your handouts as I review the cycle and fill in the blanks. Preaching, Plot, and Escape.
We have already seen the amazing encounter the Apostle Paul had with the Risen Lord. Paul was immediately changed. He was changed from being one who hated Jesus and His followers to one who loved Jesus and His followers. We also saw last week that all this took place, as it were, against Paul’s will. In other words, he was traveling to Damascus to kill more Christians, not to start a preaching service.
Today, there are various ideas about how to change our society for the better. Humanistic and secular authorities tell us that society can be improved by various means. We must understand that nothing will aid society except the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Last time we were together, we looked at Philip and the conversion and baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch. This man was, by all human standards a least likely candidate for conversion. He was unclean, cursed, and not among any of the religious elite. God took the initiative at every step and sent Philip to this man and he was taught Christ, saved, and baptized on the spot…what an unexpected event!
If the salvation and baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch was unexpected, our account today was completely unfathomable.
So far in the Acts of the Apostles, we have seen mass conversions. We witnessed through God’s Word the day of Pentecost where 3000 souls were saved. We’ve seen crowds converted as the Apostles preached and performed signs. We saw Philip go to the land of Samaria and a great number paid attention to what he said and believed and were saved. Today’s text is different. Rather than seeing a massive number saved, we see one man converted.
Many of us are not able to preach great evangelistic crusades like Billy Graham but I think there is something here for all of us today, in that we can do personal evangelism. In fact, just as surly as God called Philip to go down to Gaza, He calls us to go to folks we know and speak the Gospel to them. So, if you ever thought you’re not gifted with the ability to preach to massive crowds don’t fret this passage is for you.
Simon, a Man Amazed With Magic and Not With Christ
I once counseled an elderly lady named Caroline who was extremely troubled over that fact that she could not speak in tongues. She was fixated on this topic and it had become really an idol to her. She even doubted her salvation based on the fact that she could not speak in tongues.
The more I spoke with her, the more apparent it became that for her speaking in tongues would be something that would cause others to admire her and think more highly of her than they currently did. In her mind, she would be an elite Christian while everyone else remained normal…God would then show that He loves her more by giving her this gift.
The Hebrew Bible ends with 2 Chronicles, which states the privilege Jews, have to consistently make the trek to the Holy City, Jerusalem. This last paragraph of the OT contains the edict of King Cyrus explaining the importance of the Holy City and the command for all to, Go up.
In the Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple served as a central magnet, as it were, for God’s people. Come and see was the Old Testament call. Come and see the glory of God, Come and see this Holy City, Come and see the Temple, Come and see.
God Doesn’t Live in Temples Made with Human Hands (Pt. 2)
The first half of Stephen’s prophetic declaration of judgment we looked to last week. We saw in verses 1-34 how that God loved His people and cared for them and was intimately connected to them in lands far away from Jerusalem and before there even was a Temple or Tabernacle as far as that goes.
In spite of God’s great love for Israel and despite the miracles and signs they witnessed by God’s hand they chronically rebelled against God. Throughout Hebrew history you can trace the rebellion. Every once in a while they would repent, but by in large theirs is a history of disobedience and rebellion. They rejected every prophet sent to them by God.