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September 19, 2022 2:00 am
Acts chapter 9 famous for the fact that it contains the testimony of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. I love our tradition here. I love the fact that we have a membership process that people walk through in the get to know a disciple who takes them through that relationships are strengthened and built, then the come before the congregation and render their testimony and there's a couple of things that are going on here. One, were under mandate from Scripture to only take into membership only receive people into the church you have a credible profession of faith and the only way to be able to gauge that is through the process that we have so there testimony is prepared. They shared with the membership committee and then the common shared with the congregation and I think it builds community in our church when you hear people's journey in grace and how they've come to Christ and how God has worked it admits our hearts together at least assess inside I get there were more and more family through this means that God is given to us, but here's the question tonight is just a beacon tradition, or is there biblical precedents for it.
Is there instruction that undergirds this process that we have and that's why have turned acts chapter 9 this evening and in about 20 minutes. Did you hear me in about 20 minutes.
I want to show you seven observations from acts chapter 9. In some practical help why we have I believe biblical precedents for what we do here. Number one I want you to see misplaced zeal. What I mean by that will, Saul of Tarsus was an enemy of the church. He was zealous but his zeal was misguided. He thought he was serving God, but he was persecuting the church. He was persecuting those who are of the way and there were those who lost their life through Paul zeal he had misplaced zeal verse one and two. Then Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest and ask letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the way.
Whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Saul was a man with misplaced zeal, but I want you to see. Secondly, arresting grace, arresting grace, as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around them, from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me and he said who are you, Lord, the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goat solely trembling and astonished said, Lord, what do you want me to do than the Lord said to him, arise, and go to the city and you will be told what you must do in the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but say no one in Saul arose from the ground and when his eyes were open, he saw no one but they laid him by that they lead him by the hand and brought him into Damascus and he was there three days without sight, and neither eight nor drank arresting grace question four chapters 3 chapters earlier, Ananias and Sophia Ira deceive the church about a piece of ground that they sold and said that they given all the proceeds but they didn't. And God struck them and killed them. Ananias and Safar. Why didn't God kill Saul of Tarsus.
Why didn't God smote him on the road to Damascus. It wasn't just persecuting believers. He was persecuting Jesus.
Jesus took a personal you have an answer for my question. I have a scriptural answer to the question God will have mercy on whom he'll have mercy, and he'll have compassion on those who have compassion. It's a mystery to us. It seems that what Saul of Tarsus was doing was 100 times worse than what Ananias and Safari did, but God showed arresting grace to this man Saul recognize both his sins and the Lordship of Christ. He submitted himself to the Lordship of Christ, and he said what every person who has been arrested should say Lord, what would you have me to do, what would you have me to do.
Arresting grace number three I want you to see suspicious thoughts. And that's with Ananias verse 10 because the vision came to two people came to Saul and came to Ananias and that vision was going to bring those together were stanzas now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias into him. The Lord said in a vision, Ananias, and he said here I am Lord so the Lord said to him, arise, and go to the street called straight, and inquire of the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus for behold, he is praying in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your Saints in Jerusalem and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. Suspicious thoughts legitimate suspicious thoughts. Saul's reputation had gone far and wide for is Damascus from Jerusalem by the way Damascus is in Syria. It's 135 miles away. This man's reputation has gone a long way. He was a man to be feared.
He was an enemy of the church so Ananias was legitimate in the concerns that he had so had the suspicious thoughts. But, look, listen to the reassuring word in verse 15 but the Lord said to him, go for he is a chosen vessel of mind to bear my name before Gentiles, Kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my namesake. There's reassuring words. I want you to see in the fifth place faith verified and testified to faith verified and testified to notice with me in verse 16.
Continuing repeating what I read. Just a minute ago. Part of that vision for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my namesake and then Ananias went his way and entered the house and laying his hands on him. He said brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit immediately there fell from his eyes. Something like scales and he received his sight at once and he arose and was what he was baptized. He was baptized next the biblical order. Baptism follows believing faith in here Paul is baptized, faith verified and testified to this whole lot more I could say that point but let's move on because what follows faith verified and testified to is life endangered, but a man be in Christ he is a new creation. Saul of Tarsus is no longer the murderous threat to the church. He is an advocate.
He is an ambassador is a preacher of the gospel unashamedly so verse 20 verse 20 through verse 25 speaks of life endangered immediately pay that is.
Saul preached the Christ in the synagogues that he is the son of God than all who heard were amazed and said is this not he who destroyed those who called on the on this name in Jerusalem and is come here for that purpose so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests, but Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who dwell in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Now, after many days were past the Jews plotted to kill him. Isn't that interesting a who was seeking to kill is now being sought in as a target on him to be killed after many days were past the Jews plotted to kill him. But the plot became known to Saul and they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down through the wall in a large basket number seven faith re-examined faith re-examined. Verse 26 and when Saul had come to Jerusalem again.
How far is Damascus from Jerusalem about 135 miles if Paul is making good pace is going to take him a couple of weeks to make that journey when Saul and come to Jerusalem.
He tried to join the disciples so we could say he tried to join the church in Jerusalem. I bought it says they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple.
This man has a reputation he's a change man, but they haven't seen it, they haven't heard about it in here is come back from Damascus to Jerusalem with a desire to join the church in Jerusalem. Now he's been baptized up in Damascus, so he's not coming baptized again but they're not just going to take Amanda membership in Jerusalem.
He's going to have to give a credible profession of faith.
Okay, before the church in Jerusalem accepted Saul in the membership. It was important for them to learn of his conversion. They wanted to hear a credible profession of faith before receiving him in a membership so they didn't just hear from Paul Barnabas spoke on his behalf.
Verse 27 but Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and he that is, Barnabas declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road and that he had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus, in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out and he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brother and found out they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. There are a number of parallel passages that are worth comparing with this narrative. Acts chapter 9 Paul defends himself in acts chapter 22. He renders his testimony before King Agrippa in chapter 26, and it's interesting to read those those accounts and compare one of the interesting things is that were told here in acts chapter 9 that there were men that were with Paul on the road you notice that acts chapter 9 it says in verse seven in the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one that they heard a voice. But they saw no one.
According to the Paul's account of Luke's account.
Your next chapter 9 in Galatians.
There's another place where Paul is bearing his testimony was turned there very quickly. I got an eye on the clock. I got five more minutes didn't think I didn't think I could do this. Acts chapter 1 Paul is giving his testimony any. Let's break in verse 15 he says, but when it please God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through his grace, to reveal his son in me that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus and noticed verse 18.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem, so three years have gone by.
From the account of What Takes Pl. in Damascus until an all Paul's all all Luke says to us in the account in acts chapter 9 is lease so I can find it in verse 23, acts nine verse 23 says now, after many days were past or after many days were past.
Like many days like three years worth interesting is I got I got sidetracked. I wanted to show you this point, the men who journeyed with him. That is, Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice but say no one according to acts nine verse seven, acts 22 says something a bit different. X 22 verse nine balls. Again, rendering his testimony. He says in verse eight, so I answered. Who are you, Lord, and he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting and those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of him who spoke to me is an appointment you're saying the matter with you did not hear the voice of him who spoke to me.
Do you but Luke says they did here. What's going on there.
This is what I things going on there. The men heard a general call, but only Saul heard an effectual call. Many here the general call to come to Christ. The Gospels presented far and wide. But until God through his spirit issues in effectual call that cannot be resisted. No man will come to Christ and that explains why Saul was converted on the road to Damascus and there is no record of any of the men who were with him being converted on the road to Damascus, so we need to be very, very, very thankful for the effectual call of God upon our lives to what it again did I turn to ask chapter 9 because I wanted you to see the words of Scripture that Saul of Tarsus became Paul the apostle, because of the resting grace of God and after you receive this site and was called in commission it were told that he was baptized again. Chapter 9 verse 18 and immediately there fell from his eyes. Something like scales and he received his sight at once and he arose and was baptized baptized in Damascus but it's three years or so before he comes to Jerusalem. And when he comes to Jerusalem they remember this guy is.
This is not Paul the apostle, the great preacher this is Saul the God Ater the persecutor of those in the way and it says in verse 26 and when Saul had come to Jerusalem. He tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple now.
We believe the best about people. People render their testimony. I don't know. There may be been a timer to where we heard people render testimony. Our conclusion was I don't this person is genuine believer.
There may been a timer to but very very rarely so were not suspicious of people's testimony like they were suspicious of this man right and you understand why they were suspicious of him because they knew him, not as a believer. They knew him as a persecutor, but my point is that faith needs to be verified and needs to be testified to the church was right in not welcoming him into the church because he was a danger to the church is an unconverted man and again it I think reinforces the biblical teaching that we receive in the membership.
Those who have a credible profession of faith and Paul wanted to join the church in Jerusalem and he didn't join the church in Jerusalem after his faith was examined and found to be genuine so if were wondering, is this just a tradition that we have a beacon or is there biblical precedents for what were doing the many principles I think we could go to.
I chose to take you two up narrative passages Scripture and show it to you through the life of the apostle Paul, but there are countless principles in the epistles that justify our carefulness and taking people in the membership we buy with me in prayer we know not how the spirit moves convincing men of sin. Father, we are amazed at the work of the Spirit of God in convicting man of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. We thank you for this examination of the life of the apostle Paul Saul of Tarsus and how you saved him through your resting grace and his dramatic and his amazing as it is. It's no different than the salvation of any that we've heard tonight. It's the same same work of the spirit.
We thank you father for the quickening power. The spirit of God, we thank you for the miracle of regeneration.
We thank you for the work of the Spirit in birthing people into the kingdom of God strengthen our church our God. We pray add to our number. We would ask. Thank you for those who have render testimony tonight and thank you for all who are in this place and or listening through other means. And for those of us who are in Christ, father cause our hearts to rejoice afresh as we revisited a bit about what you have done in order to rescue us what you have done to save us. We were is hell deserving as Saul of Tarsus was in you and your marvelous grace have arrested us have come to us and quicken us to life and made us part of your family. We think you are God we worship you, we glorify you for what you've done in Jesus name we pray. Men