"Proclaming a New Message'
Intro: My early life as a believer.
In his new clarity, Saul knew Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was in the sanctification business and Saul was the newest customer.
The message from Ananias to Saul was... Jesus appeared to you, Jesus sent me to you, Jesus will give your sight back, and Jesus will fill you with the HS.
The message received from Saul...regeneration.
I can't imagine what it must have felt like for Saul. I remember myself coming right out of conversion and sitting on my couch thinking, "Now what?"
I went to visit the few friends that I had left and would tell them how Jesus had changed me. Many of them were courteous enough to listen but some would avoid me like the plague.
That is something that I should have expected to be honest, but I cannot imagine what it would have been like for Saul.
This was a man that not only did everything in his power to take down that church, he also got backing from the same people that had Jesus himself killed.
Talk about someone that would probably be avoided.
Avoided or not, Saul took this new found faith and redirected his hatred into a new passion, preaching the good news of Christ.
Today we are going to look at Saul's conversion story as it continues to unfold.
Saul began with an approach that he had never dreamed he would use and it was followed up with a response that he probably thought he would never be this side of the fence on.
This response, in turn, led him to respond in a way that he never had before. This morning we begin with Saul's new approach to faith and that was...
1. _Evangelism_ (vv. 19b–22)
Read: Acts 9:19-22
19 and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Saul has just gone through a whirlwind of intense Christ centered conversion. He was blind for several days and has now regained his sight.
He, without hesitation began his journey into this new found faith with a proclamation of faith through baptism, and that in turn brought on the being filled with the HS.
He starts off with the disciples in Damascus for several days regaining his strength and I imagine spending time in prayer and explanation.
I picture him telling his encounter with Christ over and over to his new found brotherhood.
This most feared persecutor of the faith is breaking bread with the people with whom he was just days before persecuting.
Ananias would have been a great asset as well in that he could authenticate his story as Jesus told him of the sincerity of Saul's conversion.
This would probably prove to help Saul, with his finding favor, among those who he was coming to persecute before.
We begin and see that Saul was no stranger to speaking publicly as he got right to it but his message was a new message.
The first statement that he makes is a very important place to park for a moment, "...20 Jesus is the Son of God."
From the moment that Saul begins this journey of preaching to those who were in the synagogues, his message was on point and always pointing at Jesus Christ and never self.
What is so big about the statement you might be asking, Jesus is the son of God? This is the only time in the book of Acts that we will see Jesus given this title.
In the OT the title "son of God" is used in few different ways.
The angels of Heaven are called sons of God. Israel, the nation, is called the son of God.
The kings of were also referred to as sons of God, and finally as the understanding of the messiah was developing.
The messiah was also becoming known as the son of God whom God later declared in the NT that Jesus was His Son and with whom He was pleased (Matthew 17:5).
So what do we do with this statement? Saul is proclaiming Jesus is the one true Son of God as he is set apart for a reason.
He is, of all those mentioned before, was completely obedient to the Father in both humanity and divineness. He is perfect in every way and therefore was deserving of the title SOG.
Furthermore, RC Sproul goes on to say it this way, "Christ is the only ever uniquely begotten (meaning he has no beginning or nor end) eternally of the Father;
He is very God of very God. There never was a time when the Son was not. God was, is, and will always will be triune."
Not only would this message have been radical, but offensive to the Jews of that time because Saul was using the title, SOG.
To its most fullest meaning and left no question to what Saul meant with that verbiage.
The passage goes on to tell us that the hearers were astonished and asking if this was the same guy that had come to take them out and destroy "the way"?
In other words, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't he hate us?
Illus: My first run in with the MCC librarian post my screaming incident.
I was a changed man and was pursuing to make the name of Jesus famous. This is who Saul used to be and his encounter with Jesus changed all of that.
Saul had a new mission and it was one that he was willing to die for, no longer kill for.
Now we don't know all that was done or said during that time but we can safely assume that many signs and wonders accompanied Saul during this time.
He was speaking, and proclaiming the truth, and the proof was probably continuing through miracles.
This was common in this early time of apostolic ministry, but also his life continuing in public faith and deed.
So at first glance we see that Saul is greeted with amazement and quickly it takes a huge turn.
This excitement continued for a few days and then the Jewish community turned from amazement to rage.
This response of the Jews forced Saul to respond in a way he never had to before and that was to...
2. _Escape_ (vv. 23–25)
Read: Acts 9:23-25
23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
This community of Jewish people were now angry and rage filled. Now the hunter has become the hunted. What a crazy turn of events in Saul's life.
They worked together to devise a plan to kill Saul. This plan involved the king of the Arabs in Damascus assisting by placing guards at every way in or out.
They were not going to allow Saul to leave alive.
Saul had got word of this plot for his life and needed to be able to escape. It would not be an easy task to say the least.
He was publicly proclaiming Jesus as the SOG and at the same time there were not have been too many who would not know who he was.
How awesome is it that we see, in his short time or proclaiming Christ, Saul has a group of converts are able to help him escape by lowering him through a window in a basket?
What a strange turn of events for Saul.
He came to Damascus to destroy the church. Saul, not only had great power, but also all the authority to do so.
A powerful entrance with great authority, that ended with a humility filled ride as a fugitive in a basket and into hiding.
When we stand up for the faith people will take notice. This does not mean that we will always feel safe and secure in doing so.
It does mean we can be rest assured that God will walk with us in this calling.
Saul was not ashamed of the gospel. Are you?