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August 19, 2020 8:00 am
When Soul met Jesus on the Damascus Road, he asked two questions. Who are you, Lord, and what will you have me do? After Paul knew that Jesus was the Christ, the son of God, the first action he took was to tell others. This is exactly what everyone who wants a vital spiritual life must do. We must know Jesus and we must tell others.
Welcome to the Bible study, our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Paul spent three years learning and developing his spiritual life like Abraham, like Moses and like David. Paul began telling others about Christ while he learned more and more about him.
Open your Bible to acts. Chapter nine and let's listen together to Dr. Boyce.
Sometimes it's quite helpful in studying the Bible to compare parallel accounts because they're generally not identical. And the variations on the accounts for a light on one another. That's the case in the account. We have an ax. Nine of the conversion of Saul. I pointed out last week when we were beginning our study of this chapter, that there are three accounts of Saul's conversion in the Book of Acts.
Paul himself refers to it in the book of Galatians.
So in a sense, you have another account there, though it's a brief one. But in the Book of Acts alone, there are three accounts of what I was introducing the subject last week. I said that Luke has different emphases in each of these accounts.
That's true. Also different information in each one. And in one respect, a comparison of the account of the conversion that we have in the twenty second chapter of Luke when Paul is telling it himself before the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Comparison between that account and the one we have here in Acts Line has informative. When we read Ikes nine, we find Paul asking one question of Jesus. When he appears to him on the way, he says to him, and you have it in verse five, who are you, Lord?
That account, at least according to the best text in the version you probably have in your hand. That is the only question is a very significant one. And in response to that, Jesus said to him, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.
When you take that, compare it with the account, you have an ax 22, you find that Paul actually asked a second question. First question was, who are you, Lord? And then the second question was, what will you have me do? And that's very significant. What Luke has himself given us and the account is the Lord's answer to the question, which he doesn't give. What the two questions apparently were asked. Paul says he asked them and together they form a basis for a proper Christian life.
A lot of people would approach Christianity on the basis of the second question alone. They would say, well, what would you have me do? And so they become great activists. There's much to be done and they rush about doing many good things. But that is not necessarily Christianity. Christianity begins with a question. Who are you, Lord? Because that foundation, the foundation build upon the lordship of Jesus Christ, the son of God, is necessary for everything that follows. Otherwise, we rush around doing things that appeal to us, things that seem good to us, but are not necessarily the Lord's plan. Paul got it right. It would seem from the very beginning. He began with a question, Who are you, Lord? And involved in? That was a whole creed, a whole confession. Sometimes people say to me, Oh, I want to belong to a church that doesn't have a creek, just believes the Bible. Well, if you begin to explain what the Bible actually says, that's a creed.
And here Paul had one. Who are you, Lord concerned, the DNA of Jesus Christ. We're going to find in his early preaching. That's first thing he began to talk about. And then on that basis, he submitted himself to this one. It was the Lord and said quite properly, what will you have me do? And the response of the Lord is we know it came to him personally. And in the account that we've read was given, first of all, that and I guess it was used by God as an instrument of his healing, is that he was going to be a missionary to the Gentiles and was going to suffer many things for the sake of Jesus Christ. He had been a persecutory. It caused others to suffer. And now he was going to proclaim the name of the one that he had despised and he himself was going to be persecuted for that confession. I want you to see something interesting we have here in this next section of the chapter, the section that we're studying tonight. What we learn in other places represented the first three years of Paul's ministry.
When we read this in X nine, it would seem that it happens very quickly. Luke uses phrases like after several days, after many days had gone by and so forth.
That sounds like, well, maybe a week, maybe two weeks, tops.
Well, we learn when we compare this with what Paul says in Galatians that it was actually a three year period sometime during this period. He went into Arabia, returned to Damascus, and then after he had returned to Damascus three years now having passed either in Damascus or in Arabia, where it may be three years being passed. He then went up to Jerusalem. Well, that's a very significant time. The reason I mentioned that I mentioned it in connection with what I said first is a Jesus word to Paul is that he was going to be a missionary to the Gentiles and he was going to suffer many things for the cause of Jesus Christ.
And yet three years go by before I would see me even begins his ministry in any official way. It's in that context that I want to look at it, we're going to see that reinforced in a number different ways as we study these versus.
There's going to be some time, as I said before, Paul started off as missionary journeys. But that doesn't mean that Paul was not ready to speak for Jesus. What we told about at the very beginning of this section is that as soon as he was converted and as soon as I did, I had come to him and he'd received his sight again. He was waiting for that to happen because God said he was sending this man into nice as soon as I had happened. Not only did take a few days, first 20 at once, he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the son of God.
You know, sometimes people, when they're talking about conversion say, well, I'm converted, but I want to be inconspicuous about it. I want to be a silent Christian. I don't know if that's really possible or not. I suppose there are people who are naturally shy and afraid to speak up for one reason or another. And people because of difficult circumstances in their lives. Pressure from their parents or friends, whatever it may be. Have a very hard time overcoming the hurdle of actually verbalizing their faith in Jesus Christ. But although it hits hard at some point early in the life of one, it was come to faith. There must be a verbal expression of the faith, because if there isn't, then it's really doubtful.
And we have real grounds for doubting whether the new life of Jesus Christ is really there. And sometimes said, when you talk about regeneration, the new birth, that the new birth is just like physical birth and physical birth is undoubtedly given to us by God as an illustration of the greater of the two, which is a spiritual reality. Everything we see, everything that exists. Are you thing that's part of the creation occurred after the plan of salvation, which was prior in the mind of God. So there's a sense in which everything we see as an illustration of the prior spiritual truths. We don't always have the vision to see that, but we certainly do in the case of birth. His physical birth and physical birth illustrates what happens in spiritual birth. First of all, the new life is created within the womb of the mother in physical terms. There's a combination of the sperm and the egg, and until that happens, there's no new life. Once that happens, life begins to grow. And then there's a period of gas station in the womb until the time of the birth cubs. Now it's the way it is spiritually. The sperm is compared to even in scripture. Peter uses that very term for it to the word of God on the word of God is the power of God. And it goes forth and it matches meets with the ovum of saving faith in the heart. So those that God is saving is calling because even faith is from God, it says in Ephesians two, eight and nine. So God puts the faith there. And then he sends forth the word. The word is the vehicle. And when the word is received within the heart by faith, then new life occurs. And that's a very small thing at the beginning. Often we don't even know that it's there. And it begins to grow. And then the time comes when the physical birth takes place. That's what happens. You see it in a meeting where someone is perhaps giving an altar call and they say to the people, now, you'll receive Jesus Christ as your savior. I want you to put up your hand. I want you to come forward. It is often the case. I would say it is generally the case that the work of the new birth has already taken place beforehand, somewhere in the past. That word has been sown and it's been received by faith. A person maybe not understanding a great deal has believed it, and it's begun to grow. But then there comes that moment. You say when someone says, now put up your hand and come forward. And so the person who is now alive in Christ actually makes public declaration of their faith, responds in a public way and says cider by raising their hand or by coming forward or by turning to a friend or by giving a testimony or in some way they say, I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I am now a Christian. Well, you see, that's a very important thing. Go back to the birth illustration. If you have a baby that's born and the baby doesn't cry, then you've got trouble. Something wrong? If when a baby is born, it doesn't cry. When it's born, its lungs fill with air and it cries. And that's a healthy sign. The doctors and the nurses like to hear that because they know that life is there. That's exactly the same way spiritually. When a person is born again, there has to come somewhere at the beginning, that moment when they verbalize it. It's the cry of life. And when they do that, those who are looking on Christian's web understanding in such things say, well, that's wonderful. It shows what has happened. The spirit of God has really brought this person out of darkness into life. That's what happened to Paul. Paul was a very bright man and he had a great deal of understanding. We're going to see it already when he begins to talk. He has a great deal to say about Jesus Christ, but he was still young in the faith. You needed time to learn. That's one reason why he went into Arabian, spent the three years there. But nevertheless, although he had a great deal to learn and although the work of his life was still years ahead, he verbalized his faith and began his first preaching by saying, as we find it here, Jesus is the son of God. And later on a verse 22, Jesus is the Christ.
And so Paul, from the very beginning became a preacher, as godhood called him to be.
Now it's worth looking at those two confessions. If you had said to Paul at this stage now, Paul, we want to or danger to the Christian ministry and we want you to write down a theological statement as a basis for your examination. This is what Paul would have written down. Jesus is the son of God, that Jesus is the Christ. I don't know how much he understood about this at that time, but I think probably a great deal because it says in verse 21, all those who heard him were astonished. They weren't astonished just by the fact that he said Jesus is the son of God.
He would begin to explain what he meant by that, why he meant that. And later on, we find that they were very impressed with his knowledge of the scriptures was twenty nine when he's in Jerusalem sometime later, after the three years he talked and debated with the Grecian Jews. That is, he was arguing theology with them, undoubtedly because we know how Paul later argued theology on the basis of the Old Testament, the word of God. So he would have had a great deal to say at that point and probably a great deal to say earlier.
Let's think about that.
Here is the man that God called to do the greatest work, humanly speaking of anybody in the pages of the New Testament. And this man who is going to be used in such a great way begins his ministry with the profession of faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God.
Oh, he didn't mean son of God in the way that has been watered down in contemporary theological speech. One of the great devices of the devil is to water down terminology. We've certainly seen that in the area of the authority of the word of God. When people originally began to speak about the Bible and recognized it as the word of God, that was all you had to say about it. Because if it was the word of God, then it was obviously truthful, because God is truthfully speaks no lies. And so the Bible is the word of God. The Bible can be trusted. It was the authority for the church. And then the devil comes along and begins to work with that. And he gets in the minds of people who want to be thought orthodox, but who don't really want to be bound by the authority of the scriptures. And so you find them saying something like, well, we believe that the Bible is the word of God. But we don't mean by that, that every single word is the word of God. It contains the word of God in some sense, but not certainly not every single word. And then the church has to react to that. And so you have people coming face to face without objection. And they say, no, that that isn't what we mean. If the Bible is the word of God, we mean every single word of it. So before that, they be speaking of inspiration and they begin to speak of verbal inspiration, meaning every word is inspired by God. And then you have people come along and say, well, all right, if that's what the church is going to say, verbal inspiration, well, we'll believe in verbal inspiration, too, but we don't mean throughout the verses where the words are important. Certainly, God inspires it verbally at that point, but we don't mean throughout the Bible, not everywhere. And so the church reacts to that and they say, well, no. Oh, we mean throughout. And we say words. We mean all words. And so now they add something else to it. They speak of plenary inspiration, which means completely or throughout. So it's verbal plenary inspiration. And then you have people work with that and they say, well, all right, then. Verbal plenary inspiration is okay. But we don't mean by that that there might not be mistakes in it, you know, because after all, some of this is from the point of view of the people who wrote it, God didn't overpower them in any way. So it's plenary, verbally inspired, but not infallible. And now the church has to come along and say believers have to say, no, no. Infallible is precisely what we mean. So they speak about inviolable verbal plenary inspiration. And then somebody says, well, all right, if you insist on the word and fallible, fine. But there are still mistakes. And now you have to introduce the word in error. So now you say an errant infallible verbal plenary inspiration, because the way the devil works is to water down the terms. In the beginning, you say you don't need any of that terminology. It was simple enough just to say the Bible was the word of God because I conveyed everything. Now, the same thing is true in this matter of the son of God. You say we have had a kind of liberal theology and relatively recent history in which this great terms on God has been changed to mean simply somebody made in God's image. In a sense, we are all sons of God and daughters of God. So you have theologians quite willing to admit that Jesus is a son of God. Of course he is the son of God. They say everybody is the son of God. And so he had to be the son of God for all. He was a human being. What else could you say? But that's not what it meant. It's not what it meant on the lips of Jesus Christ. It's not what it meant on the lips of the apostle Paul. After all, we're going to see here that he's persecuted for his profession. Now, why in the world would he be persecuted for his profession? Of all he meant when he said Jesus is a son of God, is that Jesus is a human being. He didn't say that you persecute them, at least you say he was out of his mind and lock him up.
But here he is professing openly the duty of Jesus Christ and doing it among those where he had formerly served in the Jewish church. That's very important because so much follows upon it.
You see, the knowledge of spiritual things for us is based upon the identity of Jesus Christ as the son of God. Why? Because if Jesus is the son of God, Jesus does not air. Because God does not air. Jesus does not lie. Because God does not lie. Therefore, everything that Jesus tells us can be trusted. He tells us God is a certain kind of God. We can believe it because he's got himself. He speaks truthfully. And if he tells us, as he does, that the Bible can be trusted. And it comes from God that all of heaven and all of earth will pass away. But that word being divine nature is never going to pass the. And we can trust it. And so our pistil biology, our approach to knowledge, the basis on which we know is grounded spiritually in this great confession. Jesus is less on a God. Yes.
Therefore, he can be trusted. Moreover, our salvation is based upon it. Because the value of Jesus death is linked, you say, to his being God. If Jesus were a mere man. Even if he were a sinless man, his death could only avail for himself.
It was not of infinite worth. And if he were nothing but a man and he would be sinful as other human beings are. And when he died, he would be dying for nothing but his own sins. You see, faces is no mere man. He was a man, had to be a man to die. Take on human flesh and what it says in Philippians two, subjecting himself to death. Even the death of the cross was no other way in which he could have died. But at the same time, not only was he a man, he was God. And so when he died, he died as God. And therefore, with the value that the death of God would have, that means his death avails for you. Jesus Christ is not the son of God in this false sense. And not only do we not have knowledge of who God is or spiritual things. We are still in our sins. We are lost. We are, of all people, the most miserable.
And yet here, as Paul instinctively, it would seem from the very beginning, preaching to the Jews of Damascus that Jesus is God's son.
Then secondly, in verse 22, we find him preaching that Jesus is the Christ. Now, you know, I'm sure that that word Christ is the same as the word messiah. Hebrew is Moshiach in Greek, it's Christoph's. But both of the words mean the same thing. I mean, anointed. And when they refer to the anointed one, but they're speaking of is the Messiah the anointed one who is promised in the Old Testament and who should Cobban who would fulfill all the promises? Now, as I say, I don't know because it doesn't say it here what the full content of that was for Paul. What did he mean when he began to prove from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ? Well, he certainly meant that he's the one that God had promised. It was the water was going to redeem his people.
And when he went back to those Old Testament texts, whatever Old Testament texts, he had come to understand that this time it was certainly in those terms that he was explaining them.
I wonder, I think perhaps it would have been the case at this point that Paul would have been reflecting on the significance of that word. He would have had one idea of the Messiah, of course, at one time. His idea of the Messiah would have been the same of the people of his day. I thought that the Messiah was going to be a political figure, a king military leader who was going to rally the people and drive out the Romans and reestablish the throne of David. Now, if Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus the crucified wanderin, there was obviously something wrong with that understanding of who the Messiah was and what he was going to do. Paul, having a great mind that he had, must have reflected on that in these early days. And he must have gone back to the Old Testament and said to himself, Now, if the Messiah is not one and obviously he was not whose primary function was to come and drive out the Romans, what was he to do? And I think at that point, as I say, I'm speculating somewhat here, but I think at that point, Paul is certainly new. The Old Testament scriptures and had a key mind must have reflected on that word anointed and ask himself, who is it? And the Old Testament that's anointed, who is anointed by the priest for a specific function. And he must have reflected on the fact that prophets were anointed. And so they spoke the word of God and priests were anointed. And so they interceded with God for the people and kings were anointed. And so they ruled over the people. And he must have understood that Jesus, if he is the Messiah, the anointed one, must be the one who fulfills each of those three functions and the most exalted sense. Jesus must be a prophet. The last and greatest of the prophets. We don't know whether or not Paul wrote the book of Hebrews because the authorship of that book is in doubt. But it does say in Hebrews and Paul is certainly capable of writing it. That didn't. Former days. God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. But in the last days, he has spoken to his by his son.
And Paul, as he reflected on that, must have been able to say, yes, this Jesus whom you crucified as the Messiah, he is the final word from God. He's one. Or when we learn what God is like. Then he must have reflected on the fact that the priests were anointed as well, and he must have said if Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one, then he must be the priest.
I'm not a priest. In some Loesser sense, he must be a priest in a great sense. He must be the one who offered not a sacrifice that needed to be repeated day by day, week by week, year by year. But he must have offered the perfect sacrifice. And what was that sacrifice? That sacrifice was himself. He was the sacrifice. The priest who offers himself on behalf of the people a book of Hebrews talks about that, too. Again, I say, I don't know whether Paul wrote that. He very well may have. But that was certainly in his thinking.
Jesus, the Messiah, the prophet and the priest. And the king to the Lord.
The one who rules not merely in a temporal sense, as David did, who would grow old and die and whose throne would be taken by another. But the one who being eternal, is going to rule forever and ever upon his own throne. The Lord Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose when Paul got around to thinking about that, he must have reflected on his own encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and how Jesus said to him, now you go into the city and it will be told you what you must do.
And he must have reflected on how when he was told it was Jesus, the Lord, the king, who said, I am going to send you to be a light to the gentiles. You say we talk about this first preaching, preaching before Paul even had a chance to reflect at any length upon it, and yet already you find preaching that contains within at the heart of the Christian gospel. Well, in these verses, we find not only Paul's early preaching, we find also the beginning of that other thing that Jesus spoke of. That is his sufferings for the sake of the name.
He found it, first of all, in Damascus from the Jews of Damascus.
It says in verse twenty three, after many days had gone by, I think maybe that means after he had been in Arabia and returned, began preaching again, this time with much more force and understanding.
After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him. You know the story there. The disciples learned of the plan.
One of them had a house that was built against the wall and had a window in the wall of Damascus that opened out over the wall. And so they put Saul in a basket and they lowered him down and he escaped by night and he got away from this plot against his life. It was the beginning of many escapes for Paul. Sometimes he didn't even escape. Sometimes they caught him. They imprisoned him.
They beat him. But you see, it was the beginning of his sufferings.
The hands of these Jews in Jerusalem, he was a part of the once. And in those days, he was on his way to Damascus, riding in splendor to get those Christians and root them out.
Jesus, the Kegan caught him in the way and turned them around and utterly transformed his life, and now he was coming not as a conqueror to imprison his enemies, but he was coming as one who was identified with Jesus, too.
It suffered before him was burying his reproaches. He was lowered outside the walls. And then there was another kind of suffering he had not the suffering of outright persecution from those who would have killed him if they could. But the suffering that came from the misunderstanding of the disciples. I imagine that hurt Paul more than anything. He came to Jerusalem, where he had started out now some years before, and it says in verse 26, he tried to join the disciples.
They were all afraid of him not believing that he really was a disciple.
We can hardly blame them, though, in another sense, we should. God is the God of the unexpected. God saves the most unlikely people. If he didn't, why would we be here? I'd say it's very unlikely people. And yet when he saves us. Because we are still so egocentric. We begin to think of things as revolving around ourselves. And so we say, well, he saved us is the kind of people he works with. But he certainly doesn't save other kinds of people. Certainly not a person like this man Saul is assaults an enemy by God, might kill somebody like that and not save them, change them.
And so they didn't believe he really was a disciple. Think one of the most delightful things about the Christian life is finding the kind of people God saves, because it's the sort of thing you just can't expect very hard to to put your finger on what God is going to do.
Figure out his ways in advance and say, now, God has to do that. God doesn't have to do it. God has a way of saving people. We wouldn't even think of. I think of some examples of that. When I was in seminary, one of the people that was talked about a lot was the late Bishop Pike, James Pike, a bishop in the Anglican Church, and he made quite a name for himself by his denials of basic Christian doctrines. He denied the virgin birth. He denied the resurrection.
He was even brought up on what almost amounted to a heresy trial to be brought up on a heresy trial in the Episcopal Church really required some doing because there is a lot of disbelief. There is there isn't a large number of denominations, specially perhaps in the Episcopal Church. But he was actually brought up in heresy trial. He didn't actually proceed with it, but shows how bad things were. This man, Pike, had a terribly messed up life. There were several suicides in his immediate family and then finally got into the occult.
One of his children had died and he was trying to consult him through the occult. There was a medium here in Philadelphia that he came to and it was great public knowledge. I think, if I'm not mistaken, that it was even on television. This is Bishop trying to make contact with his dead son through this Philadelphia medium whose name was Ford, and then he went to Israel. Did Bishop Pike. He was going to write a book on the esophageal Jesus. And he said as he went. That this was going to be the most shocking thing he'd ever written.
And they went to Israel and he was out investigating the area's background for the writing of his book.
And he died in the desert. He wandered away and he perished out in the desert. He died. Very interesting. And for a man whose history was like that, you would look at that. And I think I did in those days. And you would say to yourself, can anything good come out of a story like that? And you say, well, hardly the man didn't believe anything. All he left behind, so far as we can see, is rubble. And yet he had another son. His son was Christopher Pike, this man, way back in nineteen sixty seven, was just a young boy, about 16 years old.
He was already into the drug culture in the 60s, was on LSD and marijuana. He drifted out to California. It was California, Berkeley. And while he was there, he heard all sorts of things were going on out there at Berkeley. In those days, he heard converted hippie testifying about Jesus Christ on the steps of Sproul Hall. And he found himself wondering as he listened to that whether that could actually be true, whether that would be right.
He went into seclusion a bit in the 70s now. Seventy one or seventy two, and he began to read the new testimony and ever really read it before, began to read it. And it's interesting that as he read the New Testament there, he found the thing that his father, the unbeliever, said he was going to find when he went to Israel to write his sensational book.
Christopher Pike, the son, found the historical Jesus was converted, became a preacher, very active in Christian work. You say, how unusual.
Yes, unusual, but not really unusual for God. That's the way God works.
I think in more recent times of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the one who made a great career of herself as an atheist, the one who got the prayer and Bible reading out of the public schools by court case, great successful atheists who's been in the news has conducted debates and all sorts of things in the not distant past. Her son brought up an atheist and has come to find Jesus Christ as savior and has written a book about it, confessing the errors and sins of his early days.
I think of Chuck Colson, the most ruthless perhaps of fall, those who were involved in the Nixon administration, the one who was so committed to Nixon and his reelection that he said he would walk over the body of his grandmother if it would mean getting Richard Nixon elected man filled with pride, arrogance and a great ability.
And yet a man, when God reached and transformed and whom he's now sent into the prisons of the land to help those who like him had been a prisoner, and his testimony is that when he was successful, his success did nothing.
It was his great humiliation when he has actually sent to jail for the Watergate offenses that God used him.
Well, that was all.
So all the persecutor and the Christians in Jerusalem really didn't understand that. They didn't trust him.
Glad there was one person who did. That person was Barnabas. Barnabus means son of encouragement. It's already been introduced to us. Later on, he travels with Paul and first missionary jati. But here he's a man whom I gather centime out, heard that Paul was there. Everybody else was afraid of him. But this man Barnabus, sought him out and listen to him. And as he listened to him, recognized because the Holy Spirit and Saul testified to the Holy Spirit in Barnabus and he recognized this was the real thing, real McCoy, this band's really been born again. And so Barnabus encouraged him and went to the other disciples and told the story. He said, no, you're wrong about him. He was on a journey to Jerusalem and Jesus actually revealed himself to Saul from heaven. And Saul heard his voice. And this man has changed. So he brought him in. And Saul spent those few days there in Jerusalem with the others who knew the Lord. It wasn't very long.
Paul, tell us about it in Galatians is point in Galatians as how little contact he had with the Christians in Jerusalem, because at that time, you see later in his ministry, they were saying to him, you're just a Johnny come lately, apostle. You got it all from the others. And besides that, you got it wrong. And the point that Paul is making in Galatians is that he received it by revelation because he didn't have time to get it from the others. He said there, when I went to Jerusalem, I was only there two weeks, a fortnight. And when I saw the apostles, the only two I actually saw, we say I Paul saw the apostle. The only two I actually saw were Peter and James.
James, the Lord's brother.
And that's what he did. He had some time there. Oh, I imagine he cherish those times later on in his ministry was going to be out on a wing and a prayer, as I said, of Willy Loman in The Death of a Salesman out there all by himself, you see. And he must have cherish these moments when in Jerusalem he conversed with Peter and learn things that have happened during the Ministry of Jesus Christ and with James, the Lord's brother, and learn about those things that concerned the Lord's early life in Nazareth.
And then they got after him there, too. He tried to debate with a hellishness that is, I think, taking up the position of Stephen, because that's what Stephen is said to have done. And he had been instrumental in Stephen's death. And now he tries to take up the mantle and carry on the same debate. But they hate him as much as they hated Stephen. They tried to kill him and we're told toward the end of the passage. So when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to sorcery and sent him off to Tarshis.
And what happened then?
Well, now he's in gentile territory. Now he begins his ministry now, as a matter of fact.
He doesn't. Something like 10 years pass before Saul finally emerges once again at Antioch and then is chosen, we're told about it in the 13th chapter by the Holy Spirit, who says now is the time separate under me, Barnabas and Saul for the ministry I have for them. And so they're sent off on the first missionary journey. Paul says in one place in Galatians as he writes about himself, he says, I was un known to the Christians during all those years. I guess they had some memory of him.
They must have said, oh, yes, some years ago there was a man here who was very active in persecuting us. And that rumor is that Jesus met him somewhere out there in the road on the way to Damascus and he was converted. But, you know, he went away. We haven't heard from him.
I suppose that's just the end of him. Paul the unknown. He said they didn't know me by face. And yet in all these years, God was working in his life.
God was teaching him training and he was searching out the scriptures and in God's own time, Holy Spirit said, now now's the time. You go. And I'm going to bless that ministry.
I guess the bottom line of this study is that God's ways are not our ways and God's timing is not our timing.
And if that's the case, well, and we need to learn to wait on God, don't we, in the lives of others, you know, we see other people, we pray for them.
We say nothing seems to be happening. Well, yes. It doesn't seem to be happening, but it doesn't mean it isn't happening. I mean, the God isn't working. God does work. What are the joys of getting older in the Christian life is that you begin to see some of these things. If you live long enough, you begin to say to God actually does things and people about whom we might very well have given up hope. Early on in life, we also being impatient. We see that God didn't give up with them and God is bringing them back. And that's a great thing. And with ourselves as well, we learn to be patient, you ever feel that you're in a rut?
Things have gone along for a long time. Nothing exciting has happened to you. You don't have the kind of stories that other people stand up in meetings and tell. You say, well, I'm just doing the same old thing. Seems to me a very discouraging sort of thing.
Well, yes. Yes, we live that way. It's often the way it is. But God's timing is in our timing. And that doesn't mean that there's not a time yet when he's going to use you in a great way. You might use you in a way that you won't even see for years. You know, we think of the great evangelists in history. People like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Wesley. Others, Billy Graham. We know of them. Do we know the names of the people who led them to the Lord? Generally, we don't. Yet someone did. I'd use them. It was years later when that one who came to faith through their witness begins to carry on his ministry. And sometimes God just waits with us. Think of Abraham. Abraham was seventy five years old before God even called him out of of the counties and sent him to the Promised Land. And he was one hundred years old when Isaac, the son of the promise, was born.
Moses Moses was 40 years in Egypt learning something, all the wisdom of the Egyptians. And then he had to flee. And he spent 40 years in the desert learning to be nothing.
And it was only when he was 80 years old.
God came and called him and sent him to Fayre with a message, Let my people go, and he led them out into the wilderness where he had an opportunity to prove God to be everything.
God came to David through Samuel when David was just a boy and anointed and king of Israel, but years and years passed. This all was still on the throne. And even when saw was killed by the Philistines, David became king. He was only king in Hebrew in. And he rolled his cake and he burned for seven years, seven more years, even after the death of Saul, before the United Tribes of Israel invited him to Jerusalem, where he became the great king of the people.
Don't give up.
Keep your eyes on the Lord, learn all you can. And while you're waiting and learning, don't forget. Jesus is the son of God.
Jesus is a messiah. Make sure you tell that to other people.
Let us pray while they do bless the study to our hearts, Sweet confessed that we are often discouraged in Christian things. And often those words, which should be immediately on our lips, words of testimony, fail us.
Although forgive us for that. It was patients, but at the same time it was the courage to speak and use us. We pray. Perhaps we ask. Perhaps in unexpected ways so than in the ages to come. We'll be able to look back and say, isn't it marvelous what God was doing? And I didn't even know it. We pray it in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Lord, the son of God. The Messiah. A man.
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