The visit to Jerusalem, being chased out of Jerusalem, and then the work and ministry in Syria and Cilicia. And if you get nothing else out of all of this, you say, this man, this man is such an example. He was not satisfied with his conversion and redemption.
When I say that, I meant, of course, he's very grateful for it, but it's so much more for him to do. He felt he had to do something with his salvation, other than be saved. And so he goes to work on saving others. 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. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts, chapter 9, as he begins a new message called Awakened Tiger. Book of Acts, chapter 9, beginning at verse 19 through verse 31. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately, he preached to Christ in the synagogues that he is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed and said, is this not he who destroyed those who called on his name in Jerusalem and has 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 dwelt in Damascus, proving that Jesus is the Christ. Now after many days were passed, the Jews plotted to kill him.
But their 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. 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. Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and he 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 brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus. Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Twice in just a couple of paragraphs they sought to kill this man. His conversion equals, again, to the people of God and lost to Satan.
He is an awakened tiger. Satan doesn't know that to what extent this man is going to impact the church, nor do the Christians, nor do Saul. The only person that knows at this point is God. This book of Acts is so rich with helpful information about how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of the first Christians. Question may then arise, are we too occupied with our troubles, with our problems in life, with our quest to avail ourselves of these lessons that have been preserved by God himself? That's why we have a book of Acts. God said, I want this to be preserved. I want future generations to read these things, to be edified, built up by them. So the record is here as a template for Christianity and, of course, to Christians within Christianity. I say that because I feel that many Christians and churches do not take advantage of this resource known as the book of Acts.
There's so much here. Now, Bible study is not enough, never is by itself. To know a fact does not mean that you understand the implications of the fact. That requires, of course, God, but that does not undervalue the Bible study. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
And, of course, as I just mentioned, this word is preserved to make us stronger. But we must, we must depend on the Holy Spirit, which I fear some Christians are afraid of the Holy Spirit because of the abuses by some within Christendom. Anyway, this keeps us all dependent on the Spirit of God and our devotions and our study time and the services and in our walk, and we should be better because of it. You say, well, I do avail myself as best I can, and I don't feel like I'm making any progress. Well, the question would be to you then, where would you be if you were not doing those things?
Would you be worse off? I think the answer would be yes. So, we're not rushing through this book is, it is a gem for us, and looking now at verse 19 again. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Now, he is still at the house of Judas, according to verse 11. Presumably, Judas was a believer. And, of course, Paul was baptized and then baptized in the Spirit, and he had fasted for three days as he tarried there, and he didn't stay long in Damascus at this point. Again, Satan doesn't know that this man is going to be a tiger for Christ, and neither does Ananias, who went there to baptize him and lay his hands on him, refer to him. Those first sweet words, brother Saul. I believe, and I'm not alone, that there is an interval between that first sentence in verse 19 and the second sentence of a substantial amount of time.
If you don't factor in what Paul has to say about his conversion in Galatians, then you just keep reading on in this chapter as though he was baptized, and then he got up and he went preaching right away. And I don't think that is reasonable, nor do I think it is supported, and here's why. Now, if you disagree, that's okay. It's not a doctrinal thing that's going to impact your salvation. It just means you're going to be wrong again. But that's okay. God still loves you, just a little less.
I'm glad you laughed. Anyway, of course, the love of God is so powerful, you can't diminish that love. Galatians chapter 1, Paul talking about his conversion, he says that I might preach him, that is Christ, 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.
Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and remained with him 15 days. Well, hopefully we'll open some of this up, but also in Galatians chapter 1 verse 12, he says, for I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but it came through revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul learned his Christianity directly from Jesus Christ, and it was not instant. It was not imparted to him.
He had to work for it. Later, in Acts chapter 26, when he is again telling about his conversion, he says that Ananias said to him, but rise and stand on your feet. Well, the Lord is speaking to him. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and witness both of the things which you have seen and of those things which I will yet reveal to you. Well, that's already happened, that moment on our timeline here in chapter 9. God has already said these things to him.
I'm going to reveal these things to you. Well, he goes to Arabia to receive these revelations that Christ had promised him. So, there was likely no one in Damascus who was on Paul's theological level who could help him along with his theology and have him unlearn rabbinical Judaism, which he had to do. And so, his departure to the Arabian desert, I place right there where it says, so when he had received food he was strengthened in that period. Luke admits this, but again, Paul brings it back in Galatians and later in Acts. And so, at that period, and this is not uncommon in Scripture, you have a lot, sometimes you have, you know, several hundred years that separate one sentence from another. This, now there are others that put this departure in verse 21 and 22.
They're wrong, but they could be right. No. Anyway, he continued for a few days after his conversion in baptism and quickly departed for Arabia. And I'll get back to that as we walk through it. He is going to be discipled directly by Jesus Christ as were the other apostles. It's sort of like God is saying, I've got to get you away from people at this point.
I've got to isolate you to get you to unlearn this rabbinical influence that you've been subject to all your life. And so, even at the word of Ananias there in Damascus saying, the man who came here to prosecute us, who was persecuting the Christians severely in Jerusalem, he got saved in the way here. What do you think that, how that was received? Yeah, right. Very unlikely that they would have been so eager to receive it. And even if they did, they would have been very nervous about it.
We just had an example of this with the COVID outbreak of how many Christians were unhinged over this event. And so, this experience here in Damascus was more far more severe. We don't know how long he remained in Arabia, but we know that it was three years before he goes back to Jerusalem. So, when he gets saved, it's three years since he returns home.
I wonder what happened to all of his stuff when he gets back. It's about three years after the conversion of Christ, the resurrection, ascension of Christ. So, it's about 36 AD when he was converted here in chapter 9. He departs to Arabia, which could be as much as 400 miles away if he goes to Mount Sinai, and he says Mount Sinai is in Arabia. He says that in Galatians chapter 4.
He is there taught by God as referenced in Acts 26 and Galatians 1. He returns to Damascus and goes right into ministry, having been with the Lord and received this discipleship. He remains in Damascus for some days, of course refuting the Jews just like Stephen. And then, when threats are made on his life, he departs to Damascus.
He is let down in a basket through a window in the wall. Then he goes back to Jerusalem first time in three years. He'll be there 15 days and then he'll leave again because they're going to try to kill him, and he won't be back to Jerusalem for another 14 years. And in those 14 years of time, he's just spreading Christianity everywhere. And he becomes this tiger of the faith. And when we get to 2 Corinthians 11, he just says, let me give you a little idea of how I live as a Christian. And when he says in that section, when I think about what sin does to believers, do I not burn with indignation?
It makes me hot. Not against the Christians that are struggling with sin, but against sin and the curse in this life and the devil in the world. He never lost momentum as a believer. At least we have no record of him ever losing this momentum.
Again, you can't say it enough. Truly, if you were to metaphorically assign an animal to the characters of the Bible, Saul would be a tiger very quickly. The man was very fierce. Anyway, he goes back to Jerusalem. When he goes to Jerusalem, he's chased out. He goes to Tarsus and there he begins to preach and set up churches in not only Cilicia, which is in Tarsus, but also Syria.
We get that from Acts 15 and Galatians chapter 1. Barnabas, though, he brings him back to Jerusalem. Somewhere between three, ten years later, he brings him back to Jerusalem. Then the two go up to Antioch.
They're there for a year. The Holy Spirit will then send Barnabas and Saul to Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. Then they'll end up in, well not together, but Saul will with Silas in Europe. That's a brief overview of his life, which is beginning here, his life in Christ. The Damascus conversion, the lessons in Arabia, the preaching back in Damascus, the visit to Jerusalem, the being chased out of Jerusalem, and then the work and ministry in Syria and Cilicia.
And if you get nothing else out of all of this, you say, this man, this man is such an example. He was not satisfied with his conversion and redemption. When I say that, I meant, of course he's very grateful for it, but it's so much more for him to do. He felt he had to do something with his salvation other than be saved. And so he goes to work on saving others. And we look at verse 20, it says, immediately he preached to Christ in the synagogues that he is the son of God.
I believe, again, this is upon his return from Arabia. He would have needed that time to put his theology together. Theology is not something, your understanding and study of God according to his word is not something that we know of as being imparted. In fact, Paul's going to tell Timothy, don't appoint a beginner to ministry, to pastoral ministry. 1 Timothy 3, not a novice, less being puffed up with pride, he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. And so as a novice in Christianity, I think we have no reason to think that he just went right to work into ministry.
Of course, he was elated and delighted. 1 Timothy 3, verse 10, he also says, but let these first be tested, then let them serve as deacons being found blameless. So Paul is saying, you got to filter out people.
You just can't get saved and automatically they're ready. They'll be ready to share and witness Christ, but not on a pastoral level, not on a level of the assembly to really begin to deal with the stuff that's out there. The questions that Christians will ask, you know. Sometimes a pastor will say, well remember Moses' Ark and the congregation will say, you mean Noah's Ark. Well, actually Moses had two arks. There was the ark that he was put in when he sailed on water to Pharaoh's daughter. That was his first ark. And then there was the Ark of the Covenant. So there, you're wrong, I'm right.
And that's nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. So again, not content with being an example of the power of Christ's love and conversion, he is going to get into the thick of everything. It says in the synagogues, well to the Jews first. This is the natural sensible pattern that God has before us, but partly because there was nowhere else to start. When he gets to Athens he'll start there and you know where he can, but the synagogue was the platform until the Christians were allowed to have church buildings.
It wasn't as we might be comfortable with today. Synagogues, we're not sure when they came along. They did exist in David's day. Psalm 74 verse 8, they have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land. Well, the meeting places are the assembly. The word synagogue means the assembly and the church, the Christian church is patterned off of the Jewish synagogue.
Not identical, but certainly there is that pattern. It says also here in verse 20, that he is the son of God. That's what he was preaching. Now Jewish knowledge of Messiah's identity unfolded before them. It wasn't, again, instance when Christ came, it took a lot for, many never just received him, even with the miracles and the preachings. This knowledge had to be unfolded as the church, the identity of the church, was not instantaneous.
It had to be developed. It emerged out of these things and Paul was the one that led this. The Jews who received were saved, but the others, they, what they heard about Jesus Christ as being the Messiah, it collapsed under unbelief. Here's what Paul said to the Corinthians, which he was preaching to these Jews in Damascus, in Jerusalem, wherever he went. First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 3. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, and there it is again. He says, I received that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.
We received it from Christ in Arabia, initially. Then he continues, verse 4. And that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. So when he's engaging the Jews in Damascus and in Jerusalem, he's using the scriptures.
He said, here it is right here. The identity of our Messiah is Jesus Christ. And we have the same message to this day. A slightly different approach to Gentiles perhaps, but overall it is the same. The stages of his conversion were outstanding. And I think it helps to remember that God does not save Jews and Gentiles, he saves sinners. There are no other type of people to be saved. Now of course you could drill it down a little bit to make some distinction, but ultimately it's sinners. And when a Jewish person understands that, then doors begin to open, lights begin to turn on. When a Gentile understands that, same thing. It doesn't have to be different.
You know, there are distinctions that just, at some point they don't count because the information covers it all. So reviewing the stages of his conversion, he is converted and he is immersed in Christ, 1 Corinthians 12, 13, for by one spirit we are all baptized into one body. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Then he was filled with the Holy Spirit, this is the work of Jesus Christ. Mark's Gospel, chapter 1, verse 8, John speaking, John the baptizer, I indeed baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the one doing the baptizing, the Holy Spirit is the element that is being baptized in dew, the filling of the Spirit. Then that third experience of overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, he who believes in me as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. I don't know how to read the parts when we get in the Bible to as the scripture without some animation, without some accent placed on it. I cannot casually say, he who believes in me as the scripture has said. Scripture is a big part, it's everything.
It's what connects it all together. The signature of God, the voice of God, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. And that's when Paul was filled. And we're going to get that as we get down to verses 20 and 22 sometime this year.
We'll get to that. But it's what Jesus meant. You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
Power to do what? To be witnesses, to unfold the mystery of the Messiah, of the prophecies concerning the Son of God in its relationship to sinful men and women. That's what we have in Acts chapter 1. And to try to say, well you know the Holy Spirit is all about me having the gift of tongues or some other manifestation. The manifestation truly is the love of God for sinners. And without that, what are you?
You are annoying. And that's what, you know, if I have not love, though I have prophecies, though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing, quote unquote. So it all does fit together. Otherwise, I personally wouldn't accept it. I wouldn't accept the Bible as being the Word of God if it didn't fit together.
If it was just so fragmented, it made no sense. But I've come to trust it so much that if the Bible said to me water is not wet, I would believe that water is still wet, but there was a greater meaning to those words because the Bible doesn't get it wrong. The facts are the facts. They're not contrary to logic, to reason, to science. They are trustworthy. But they require work.
And they require work some more. Verse 21 now, then all who heard were amazed and said, is this not he who destroyed those who called on the name, on his name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose so that he might bring them bound to the chief priest? Well this was their reaction to Paul. It would have been at both times, at his conversion early on, and then when he returns from Arabia, it would have still been that way.
They would have had no reason to say, okay, we trust this guy now. He was Christian enemy number one, a hot hater of Christ and his people. Jesus said, I wish you were ice cold or red hot but not lukewarm. Well, there was nothing lukewarm about Paul and his view of Christ and Christianity. And so again, I think that he was whisked out of Damascus and onto Arabia and does not preach Christ until spending time with Christ because he would have had so many questions.
He would have been speaking and saying to himself while he's speaking. That's why when you study before you come up into the pulpit, so you don't have questions. You don't want to question in the pulpit. Hmm, wonder what that means. Hold on a second. You want to settle these things as best you can.
In fact, you want to exhaust them. And I strongly, I believe that is the way it is, the pattern that we have. Verse 22, but Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. So now he's back with a developed theology.
Not only was this man willing to study, he was willing to suffer. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com 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.
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