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Brother Saul (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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December 9, 2022 6:00 am

Brother Saul (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 9, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Paul was saved not because of Judaism, but he was saved not without the Old Testament. That understanding of the Scriptures, without that, he wouldn't know what was going on. Since this day, Jews are invited to believe, not as Jews, but as sinners, and the same goes for Gentiles. That's why there's no longer Jew or Gentile.

You're called to believe, not as a Jew, not as a Gentile, but as a sinner, and that's what you're doing here. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts. Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today, Pastor Rick continues his message called, Brother Saul, in Acts chapter 9.

Now some of you, I mean, have great neighbors, but not the whole block. Surely there's got to be one, anyway, coming back here. Verse 7, and the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no one. When he says stood, not always literally, they're with him, and at some point they all did get up, but when he tells it later, he says they all fell to the ground.

There was no mistake that this was a spiritual event unfolding in front of these men. Daniel speaks of a similar experience with witnesses there, but we don't read of these men who are attending Paul, who are with Paul. We don't read any more of them, of their being saved, of their inquiring.

They lead him into the city, and they just vanish from the story. That makes me think how many people experience something from Christianity that is very genuine and different and unlike anything else, and then go no further with it. Well, what we'll learn later on is that Jesus is speaking to him here in the Hebrew. Most people, the common people, spoke the Aramaic and not the Hebrew. The scholars spoke the Hebrew. Paul was a scholar. And so they heard the voice, they just couldn't understand what was being said because they didn't speak the Hebrew, and Paul pointed out in chapter 26 that the Lord spoke to him in Hebrew. It's a nice touch that is put into the story to clarify for us what is going on and who these people were. In verse 8, then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And so Luke, you know, he opens his eyes and saw no one.

Well, you can just, you know, it's a bit ambiguous. Well, do you mean no one was there? No, he was blind.

That's what's happening here. Spiritually, he was already blind. Now he's physically blind, but spiritually he can see. Acts 22, verse 1, I could not see for the glory of that light. I saw the light.

I heard the voice, Paul would say. It is that light that blinded him. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus, gloriously humiliating. He's being led like a little kid.

He's this prosecutor with all this authority to arrest and punish people, inflict great harm on them, and here he is dependent on his servants now. They can't even survive without others. Matthew 18, verse 3, Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Is that not illustrated for us in this? Are there not those people that are too full of themselves, too arrogant, too self-important, too self-righteous, too self-whatever to really receive from Christ or any of his people? Paul was saved not because of Judaism, but he was saved not without the Old Testament.

That understanding of the Scriptures, without that he wouldn't know what was going on. Since this day, Jews are invited to believe, not as Jews, but as sinners. And the same goes for Gentiles.

That's why there's no longer Jew or Gentile. You're called to believe, not as a Jew, not as a Gentile, but as a sinner, and that's what he's doing here. He's going to work this out so well that he will be the one that articulates Christianity.

Without this articulation of this Saul the Apostle, where he becomes Paul the Apostle, the church would have just still been, you know, the other apostles never really put it out there like Paul does, making this distinction, making us understand. We come to God as sinners, and that's how he receives us, and that's how we are saved. And you cannot say, I believe, without confessing your sin and being converted. Verse 9, and he was three days without sight and neither ate nor drank.

So intense that hunger bowed to the experience of faith. Jesus had flipped his world upside down completely, and he doesn't know his identity. Everything is just an extreme makeover, unraveled in an instant, and weaved back together at the same time in a flash of light.

A lifetime of wrong thinking is instantly dumped, instantly. Those of you who have been saved, you know what's going on here. You know when you came to Christ from a life wherever you were, I would believe that it more than likely was instant, that recognition. Oh, there was a process leading up to it, but it came to a point where Jesus is Lord. 2 Corinthians 4, he writes, For it is the God, for it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I hope you're seeing that by reading these verses from other writings of Paul, how much this experience impacted the rest of his life.

It got in that deep into him. For the rest of his life, every thought would be processed and filtered in the presence of Jesus Christ. If he lost his temper with someone, he knew, he knew Christ was still there, with the mercy, and saw also with the obedience, the need to obey. And we know this as Christians. That's why we love to know when Jeremiah says his mercies are new every morning. Jeremiah wrote those verses as he wept over the ruined Jerusalem, the ruined people of God. He still understood the mercy of God in the midst of all those things. Don't let Satan, who hates your guts, tell you because you goof up, you trip up, you repeat the same mistakes, that somehow you're not saved, that somehow you are less important to Christ, less useful to Christ.

Default back to his mercies are new every morning. And if they weren't, none of us could serve him. Paul, at this conversion, now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, is an outcast because of Christ amongst his own people. He's a turncoat at this point. That's how they're going to view him. They will hate him and they will seek to kill him with the same intensity that he was targeting the Christians. The Christians, they will question his conversion. So he's almost a man with nowhere to go. That will develop.

He doesn't know this yet, but that will develop. He will do well in Damascus amongst those Christians, but when he gets to Jerusalem, it will be another story. Jerusalem, perhaps the most spiritually unique place on earth.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. Now there was, verse 10, a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, Ananias, and he said, Here I am, Lord. Meanwhile, God, while Saul is going through all of this in his life, God is mobilizing his servants, and in this case it will be Ananias and Judas. A man, not Judas Iscariot, of course.

Neither one have any idea of the magnitude surrounding the events that they are participating in. And there are lessons in that. You know, some have entertained angels unaware.

These people are entertaining the great apostle Paul to be unaware. That's a story that they could tell their grandkids. I'm the one that put my hands on him so he could receive his sight back. Me, that was me.

No, he wouldn't. He's too humble, and we're going to get to him a little bit. You get so much from just a couple of verses of somebody in the Bible, you just get almost a life story sometimes.

Verse 11, So the Lord said, Arise, go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas, for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. This ain't over from Ananias. This is Ananias.

What? You got the right name? You don't mean Saul. You mean Simon.

You made a typo there. This name Judas. It became popular amongst the Jews. The name Judas during the revolt of the Maccabees.

Judas Maccabee led one of the phases of the revolt against Syrian rule. And it's Judah. It's Judah in the Hebrew. It becomes Judas in the Greek. And by the time it makes its way to English, it's Jude.

Now if you're California, it's Jude. Anyway, I used to do that a lot. I lost all my Californian friends. And no, I did not. But anyway, well, I only had two.

Still my friends. Anyway, back to, he tells him, Saul is praying. And while he's telling Ananias, Saul is praying, and while he is praying, he sees you.

That's what he's telling him. And this is quite remarkable that God is all over the place. He's, you know, ubiquitous. Already this man Saul is touching other lives and no one even knows, you know, not yet gotten there. He's on the road. He gets converted and God mobilizes these two men.

And lives, it's all in motion now. Verse 12, and in a vision. God's still speaking. He has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. So God is saying, I want you to go to this man Saul. He's seen a vision of you. And Luke is probably saying, how do I use the pronouns?

I use the name as he's recording this. How do I communicate that God is saying to Ananias, Saul has had a vision and you're in it and your name, he's got your name already. And the difference between a vision and a dream is the dream you're sleeping and the vision you are still awake. And so when God said Ananias and he said, here I am, Lord, he is still awake. Saul is blind at the moment, likely in a bed or a chair somewhere. Well, we know where. He's at the house of Judas on the street called Straight.

So these are two connected visions. Verse 13, then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. A reasonable objection by this servant. He's not being a wise guy. He's not saying, no, I'm not going to do this.

It is a fair comeback. He wants to be clear about this. Saul's reputation preceded him. And so Ananias is saying, are we talking about Saul?

Let's get this right, Lord. Is this the guy that's the troublemaker or is this Saul the baker? Anyway, after it all, Ananias is going to be up and obeying, doing what he is to do.

And Ananias is going to have his hands in this matter. He says how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. Well, we just briefly reviewed Paul's own testimony of how much damage he did to the church.

Well, here Ananias is giving us a commentary on Saul's behavior. Maybe you know someone that supposes they are too sinful to be saved. That's just a weak, lame excuse to saying I do not want Jesus to be my Lord. If characters like Saul of Tarsus can be saved, men like David can be forgiven and elevated. If kings like Manasseh can be saved, anybody can be. This is just something we should tell if you come across as someone that says, well, you know, I've just got too much in my life.

No, you don't. Jesus is big enough to forgive it all. And if you don't agree with that, then you're calling him a liar.

Let's just be upfront about the whole thing so you don't walk away thinking you won the argument. Well, may this never be truly said of any of us how much harm he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. The first Christians are, for the first time, referred to as saints here in the New Testament. Of course, the Old Testament saints have been, but this is now the transition. And so the Christians are now referred to as saints.

They are alive. They are not voted on by a college of people who don't know the Bible or don't like the Bible. You don't achieve sainthood through the vote of humans. You become a saint and no longer an ant the minute you give your life to Christ.

You're separated to him. And so that's why when Paul wrote his letters to the saints at Rome, to the saints at Ephesus, they were alive and well and people just like you and I. Well, John will also use this word a lot, Paul mostly. And then John, Judea, does also referring to the Old Testament. Logic can interfere with obedience.

That's what we're learning also from this with Ananias. A logical reply, this guy is a troublemaker, but God clears it up for him. He doesn't just take it upon himself. Verse 14, you know, like the people that want to go pet a lion. Oh, he's so cute.

Climb over the fence. That's the process. Anyway, verse 14. And here he has authority, Ananias still speaking, and here he has authority from the chief priest to bind all who call on your name. He has the arrest warrants.

So here's now where we're going to get to. He's going to be off and following orders. Verse 15, but the Lord said to him, go for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. I don't think the tone of God is harsh here.

There's no reason for it to be harsh. You know, Abraham bantered with him, what if for adventure there are 50 men in Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord said, good luck with that. No, he didn't say that, but that's what it came down to. Of course, we don't believe in luck.

Please don't get me on that one. We don't believe there's some unaccounted for power out in the universe that influences our lives. We know that all things belong to God, and then there is the God of the air who corrupts everything he can, being, of course, the devil. So God shares with Ananias his outreach plan for Gentiles, their rulers. That's pretty far in scope, but the Jews aren't forgotten. Paul does not just become a Gentile, an apostle to the Gentile. He's still an apostle to whoever, Jew, Gentile, anybody who will preach the gospel to them. God will warn that this transition, this outreach, will bring suffering into Paul's life. In Acts 26, Paul gives us a little bit more information about this dialogue that's going on here. He says, to open the eyes of the Gentiles and Jews in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God that he may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance amongst those who are sanctified by faith in me.

So this is very clear. If you are praying for somebody who is lost in their sins, I would encourage you to pray that they are delivered from Satan, or to at least be mindful that Satan is in this. This person is not just an unbeliever. There's a lot more to it.

There's not just one part, there are other parts. And if we can address them all, at least in my prayer life, I do. I know people that Satan has got them. I've hit them with the gospel, with logic that they cannot refute, and yet they still hold tight to resisting the Lord Jesus. I'll say to them, you know God has been looking out for you, and I'll itemize some of the things.

Remember this, remember that? And they will agree. I agree. They won't convert. That is Satan helping them be just adamant. I'm not going to give Jesus the satisfaction of converting me. That is just more than human stupidity, which we can't be underrated. Human stupidity is pretty big stuff.

I don't know firsthand. But Isaiah 60 verse 3, we're almost done, so I won't read too many. The Gentiles shall come to your light, the kings, to the brightness of your rising. And that is what we're seeing in the apostles. But the Jews as a people, they never really knew how to invite the outsider in. They were so busy blocking the outsiders. And we as Christians got to be careful of that.

We do the same thing if we're not careful. Someone comes to church with piercings all in their face. You want to just tell them, no I'm sorry, we've got high powered magnets here and you'll be harmed. You can't come in. We can't do that. I mean you just got to welcome them in and then after they get saved, then you can let them have what you really think about them.

No, you can't. We love the piers, the people that have drawings on their bodies. Look, if you're going to get a tattoo, I would encourage, get the press-ons. Because you can change them out.

And they don't hurt. And 50 years from now, you know there's, all right, all right. I'm not saying anything bad about it if that's what you're doing. Kidding. I don't appreciate that. Well listen, it's one of the perks of having a pulpit.

You get to pick on certain groups, harmlessly so. And you who like bananas know who you are. So, anyway, I know there's a pastor somewhere picking on ball-headed men. I hope all his kids are born naked.

Anyway, verse 16, before I show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake. There's a recruiting banner. So I had a friend that was a Navy recruiter when I was 16. I was turning 17 into that. And so I was going to join the Marines. And he's like, you don't want to be these guys. These guys are weird.

They don't go, they do nothing like the rest of us. And he didn't know he's selling it to me. He said, life is brutal. And his name was Mike.

And I was so sorry I lost touch with a really good friend. Anyway, he was selling the Marine Corps to me. When I got in there, Mike, I should have listened to you. I should have listened to you.

Anyway, this is, how do you recruit people? You show them how many things they're going to suffer. Okay, I'll give my life to Christ.

Well, that's what happened. Paul will write about this in chapter 20. He'll say, none of these things move me. Nor do I count my life dear to myself. And he goes on to develop that thought.

But we're out of time. Verse 17. And Ananias went his way and entered the house. And laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me to you that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This is majestic. The man who is coming to lay hands on people to arrest them is having hands laid on him to bless him. He said, Brother Saul, the first words out of his mouth is a term of endearment and love. Look, blood as a rule is thicker than water, but there are exceptions. And it is found often in the church. You can have people in the church that are closer to you than your own siblings.

It's just a fact. There's no hostility in that. Paul would recall this when he talks about Ananias in chapter 22. Then a certain Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, said, Now why are you waiting?

Arise and be baptized. So here again, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, he has sent me to you. So Paul had that experience of the Holy Spirit next to him. Preposition en in the Greek, para, pardon me, para, where when Stephen was preaching, the Holy Spirit was there convicting Saul. Then he has this experience, when he sees Christ, then the Spirit of God will come into Paul and he will become a believer. But there's still a third experience, epi, that preposition where the Spirit comes upon Paul and this is going to happen at this time.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins, Proverbs 10, 12. This filling would lead Paul to do the preaching he's going to do in verses 20, 21, and the rest of his life. Verse 18, Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once and arose and was baptized. No coincidence, once blind, now he sees.

Somebody should write a song like that. And he arose and was baptized and he was immersed in the Spirit by Jesus Christ as salvation. He was immersed in Christ by the Holy Spirit as salvation and then Christ immerses him in the Holy Spirit and that is the filling. He is soaked with the Holy Spirit and unlike Lot's wife, Paul never looks back.

Hard to walk forward when you're looking back. I'll close with this verse. Paul says, I've been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

Very personal. Paul says, I am saved. I preached it, you get saved, but let me remind you, I know I am saved. Jesus loves me also.

A lot of folks have a hard time with that, I think. Understanding God's love for them. Cross Reference Radio Podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-09 09:52:22 / 2022-12-09 10:02:12 / 10

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