Paul: Background and Call

Scripture: Acts 9:15-16, Philippians 3:6-8, Galatians 2:1-17
Date: 09/12/2015 
Lesson: 11
"More is known about Paul than any other first-century Christian. He is especially remembered for his significant contributions that have influenced Christian outreach during the past two millennia."
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Good morning, friends, and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very warm welcome to our friends joining us all around the world and across the country. Thank you for being a part of this international Bible study. I'd also like to welcome the Granite Bay church members and those visiting with us this morning. Good to see you in church today.

Thank you for coming and joining us as we study together. Now as you'll remember, we're still working on our lesson quarterly dealing with biblical missionaries. And today we find ourselves on lesson #11 entitled Paul: background and call. We're going to get to this study in just a few moments, but before we do I'd like to let you know about a free offer that we have. It's a book entitled satan's confusing counterfeits and we'll be happy to send this to anybody who calls and asks.

The number to call is 866-788-3966 - that's -study-more and you can ask for offer #191. Again, that number is 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #191 - satan's confusing counterfeits and we'll be happy to send this to anybody who calls and asks. Well before we begin our study this morning, as usual, we'd like to invite our song leaders to come and join me here on stage and we're going to lift our voices in praise for all of the good things that God has done for us. What a privilege it is to be able to sing together week after week out of our hymnals and learn new songs and share together the old. Hymn #335 is how we're going to start today - what a wonderful Savior - is Jesus my Lord.

We will sing the first, the second, and the last verses. Christ has for sin atonement made, what a wonderful Savior! We are redeemed! The price is paid! What a wonderful Savior! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord! I praise him for the cleansing blood, what a wonderful Savior! That reconciled my soul to God; what a wonderful Savior! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord! He gives me overcoming power, what a wonderful Savior! And triumph in each trying hour; what a wonderful Savior! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord! And now, if you'll turn to hymn #340 - Jesus saves - and I know that you cannot sing this hymn without smiling, so lift your voices in praise and adoration to our Savior - hymn #340, verses one, two, and four. We have heard a joyful sound, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; spread the gladness all around, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; bear the news to every land, climb the steeps and cross the waves, onward, 'tis our Lord's command, Jesus saves, Jesus saves. Waft it on the rolling tide, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; tell to sinners, far and wide, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; sing, ye islands of the sea. Echo back, ye ocean caves, earth shall keep her jubilee, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; let the nations now rejoice, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; shout salvation full and free, highest hills and deepest caves, this our song of victory, Jesus saves, Jesus saves. At this time I turn the time over to Pastor Ross and he will lead us in prayer. Let us bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, once again we are grateful to be able to gather together in your house on this your special day, to turn our attention to Your Word and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts and minds as we search the Scriptures. Father, guide us into a deeper and fuller understanding of our mission as missionaries sharing the Gospel with the world, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen.

Our lesson today will be brought to us by our senior pastor, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you Pastor Ross and our singers. And I want to welcome all of our friends who are worshiping and studying with us today here at Granite Bay. We are getting into the first part of a lesson dealing with Paul as a missionary. It's lesson #11 but, you know, Paul is such a bigger-than-life character in the new testament that they needed to dedicate at least two lessons to study about Paul.

And so we have a memory verse and the lesson is called Paul: background and call. It tells a little of the background of Paul and the original call of Paul - that sort of rhymes, doesn't it? And then we're going to do our memory verse which is acts 9, verse 15 - acts 9:15 - if you've got your Bibles there, I invite you to say this along with me. Actually we're doing verses 15 and 16. Acts 9 verses 15 and 16. Are you ready? "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.

For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake.'" These are the words of the Lord speaking to ananias when he was told to go and to baptize Paul, who actually was Saul at that point. And so, in our first section here, we're just going to do a little introduction and learn what we can about this very interesting prominent character in the new testament. We know him better as 'Paul'. Before our study's over today, his name changes and we'll talk about when that happened and why. First he's known as Saul of tarsus.

Tarsus was a city in sicily that was part of the roman empire and it tells us that Paul was The Son of a pharisee but he was born with roman citizenship, which is very unusual and it ended up being a blessing. It probably saved his life at some time in the past. It tells us he's from the tribe of Benjamin. Now, after the Babylonian captivity, you really only find three principle tribes that appear from Judea, Benjamin, and the levites. There may have been some from some of the other tribes, but back during the time of hezekiah, when the ten tribes were carried off captive, they pretty much intermarried and dispersed among the assyrians.

Now you go to syria today - there used to be a lot more, but they've sort of been driven out by persecution - you might find some remnants of the original ten tribes. But Benjamin, one of the smaller tribes, it came back from the Babylonian captivity and Paul was from that tribe. The word 'Paul' means - or the word 'Saul', rather, means 'asked for' and Paul, on the other hand, is derived from a latin word. It means 'little; diminutive; or dwarfish' and we don't know if Paul assumed this second name because he believed that he was little in the eyes of God but, you know, one of the legends that is repeated by some of the early church fathers is that Paul was not of great stature, unlike Saul of - king Saul - who was head and shoulders above everybody else. Now there's a couple of verses that sort of - he intimates that.

Let me just check and see - who has 2 Corinthians 10:1? Alright, you'll read that here in just a moment. I'm going to read acts 23, verse 6, "but when Paul perceived that one part" - of this gathering - the sanhedrin - "were sadducees and the other pharisees, he cried out in the council, 'men and brethren, I am a pharisee, The Son of a pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!'" That was a very clever thing for him to say at that point because it helped prevent him from being totally condemned during that council. The pharisees stood up for him. But what does it tell us about Paul's father? He was a pharisee. So he's a pharisee, he's The Son of a pharisee, he grows up at the feet of gamaliel, who is a very devout Jewish leader.

He appears in the book of acts at one point. But why don't you go ahead - read for us 2 Corinthians 10:1, hafdis? "Now i, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ - who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you." Paul was very strong in his letters. Good thing he did a lot of writing, but he said in presence he was very meek and lowly. Some have wondered if it meant that his appearance was lowly. In 2 Corinthians 10:10 he says, "'for his letters,' they say, 'are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

'" Some have postulated from that, that it meant that Paul maybe had a voice that was soft or that was high pitched or something but - and he may not have had the booming voice of george whitfield and may have been small in appearance because, again, that's what the word 'Paul' itself means. Alright, let's get into Paul on Monday. We have a whole lot to cover in this lesson so I'm not going to waste any time. And in a moment, someone will read acts 22:4 - you'll have that? Okay. It tells us about Paul the man and it says that Jesus told us in John 16:2, he said, "they will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

" Did that actually happen, where there would be a death sentence on the believers? That some would kill you? And some would kill Christians and really think they were doing the right thing. Paul thought. And this is what happened. And you can read that there in - you look in the examples of Paul. For instance, look in acts 9 - we're going to read this verse again later - acts 9:1 and 2, "then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," - was he sincere? - "Went to the high priest and asked 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.

" Now there are three accounts that are found of Paul's conversion, and in all of those he admits that he was guilty of murder. He never forgot that. It was very hard for him to deal with, but he knows that he did it unintentionally. Go ahead and read for us acts 22:4. "I persecuted this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

" So we know about the death of stephen, that comes up later, but was it just stephen? No. Or was he doing it to others? There's no exact number given but it says that following the persecution of stephen - following the martyrdom of stephen - a great persecution arose in Jerusalem so bad that the disciples had to leave. Who do you think was at the forefront of that great persecution? Who was going to the religious leaders? Matter of fact, even in damascus, when God comes to ananias and said, 'look, I want you to go lay hands on Paul and pray for him and baptize him.' He said, 'not Paul, he is the ring leader of the persecutors. He's part of the ss. He's part of the gestapo that is killing the Christians.

' I know that's really - Jewish gestapo is sort of a paradox, isn't it? But he was the one who was the ringleader of those who were killing the Christians back at that time and so he was guilty of murder. I just want you to know how radically he was transformed. And then he gives his testimony in acts 26, verse 10. And Paul says, "...and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them." Have you ever seen some of the scenarios where, in the coliseum, the gladiators were fighting and if one got the upper hand and he was able to give the coup de gras and kills his victim, he'd look up to the stands. And if the emperor went like that, what did that mean? Let him go.

No, that meant let him go. That meant - to kill him. To do him in. Paul is saying - when they were being tried Paul would say, 'kill them.' And he said, 'I gave consent. I gave my vote against them.

' Yeah, he struggled with this. Philippians 3, verses 6 and 8. Paul goes on, he says, "concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless...yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excEllence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." So what more are we learning about Paul the man? When he did something - you know, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes, 'whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all thy might, for there is no knowledge or wisdom or device in the grave where you are going.' Paul was that man. Whatever he did, he did with zeal. He was industrial strength.

Now, while Paul was killing Christians, did he mean to do the wrong thing or did he think he was doing the right thing? He believed he was doing the right thing. You can read in Galatians - yeah, in Galatians - no, no, I'm actually going to go to 1 Timothy 1:13, "although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." He's very clear about that. Again, in acts 3:17, "yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers." Paul said concerning those who crucified Jesus. Acts 17:30, truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." And so the Lord is understanding when we do things in ignorance. And Paul was very sincere, but he was wrong.

Go ahead, read for us 1 Corinthians 15:9. "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." This is something that always weighed on him. Paul could never forget - now when we get to the conversion of Paul, you've got to know that he really repented of what he did. I'll say more about that, but he could never forget the picture of stephen's face illuminated, praying, saying, 'I see Jesus at the right hand of The Father' and praying for forgiveness of those that were killing them. Remember what Jesus said? 'Father, they know not what they do.

' Stephen died saying, 'lay not this sin to their charge.' And that made a deep impression on Saul, later known as Paul. 1 Timothy 1:16, "however, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on him for everlasting life." Paul says, 'I know God is making an example of me for others that may be converted, because they didn't know. In Galatians 1:13 and 14, "for you have heard of my former conduct in judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure" - it was unmeasureable and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." So Paul - is it clear he was a hard-core, gung-ho pharisee - very sincere - he hated the Christians, he exceeded all the others in his country? That's why he was promoted by the sanhedrin and he was given the honored task of leading the asSault on Christians. And so that's why it makes the conversion of Paul all that more dramatic and we're going to get into that today.

The next section is from Saul to Paul - this is under Tuesday. I heard about a man that he owned a newspaper in a big city. It was very prominent and he was starting to consider retirement and he had three sons. He wasn't sure which of his sons he should make lead editor of his newspaper - they all worked for the paper - and he gathered his sons together and he said, 'to be a good newsman, you have to understand that headlines are everything. People buy the paper because of the headlines.

You need to know how to have the most outrageous gripping headlines and say it in the fewest words.' And so he said to his three sons, 'I want you to dream up the best possible headline and whichever one of you comes up with the best headline, you get to be the chief editor of the paper.' So the first son, he came up with the headline, reagan becomes communist. And the second one came up with the headline bill clinton joins monastery - (laughter) - but the paper went to the third son and he just used two words and he said pope elopes - (laughter). Now they all picked headlines of things that you would never expect to happen. If you lived back in the days of Paul, the last thing in the world anybody would have expected is that Paul converts to Christianity, because he was the poster child of the enemy of Christianity. And so, that's where it - we take up our story.

Matter of fact, go ahead and turn in your Bibles - we're going to read acts 9, verses 3 through 9. We already read Paul breathing murder and threats against the disciples. You realize that acts chapter 8 says in that time a great persecution arose. Paul was the leader of that persecution. Now you get to acts 9.

We don't know how long it went on but it may have been for some time. He got letters. He got, actually, arrest warrants to go to foreign cities - not even Jewish territory - to arrest Christians. "As he journeyed he came near damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and he heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul," - now what are some other times in the Bible that Bible characters have heard the name called twice? Samuel.

Samuel, Abraham, Saul. One time a lady reminded me that there are no ladies in the Bible that are ever called twice because they get it the first time. (Laughter) it's always the man that's got to say their name twice. No, actually, Jesus said, 'Martha, Martha,' so that's not true. Okay, anyway, so he says, "'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And he said, 'who are you, Lord?'" Well, he's kind of saying who he is, but he doesn't understand.

It's almost like Moses said, 'what is your name?' When jehovah appeared to him. And he said, "I am Jesus." Now Paul was so thunderstruck by that statement, it must have been like the face of the brothers of Joseph when Joseph revealed himself to them and he said, 'I am Joseph.' And I - you know, when I get to heaven, that's a video I want to see. If the angels can show you, like, a three-dimensional video of what happened here on earth - I want to see that one. I want to see the faces of Joseph's brothers when he finally says, 'I'm Joseph.' It would be fun to see the face of Paul at this point, when Jesus says, 'I am Jesus, who you persecute.' Can you ever - have you ever had to admit you're wrong before? Have you ever been that wrong, that you suddenly find out that you're killing - you think you're serving God but you're killing him? You're killing his servants and 'inasmuch as you've done it to the least of these you've done it to me.' And so he must have had an expression of terrible consternation and aghast. He said, 'I am Jesus, who you' - and you notice - why did God say to Abraham, when he said, 'who are you?' He said, 'I am that I am.

' What does Jesus say to Saul? 'I am - I am the same God that spoke to Moses.' "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." King James says, 'kick against the pricks.' They used to use this, like, pitchfork kind of stick, it had one or two points on it to prod cattle along. When they started to eat on the side of the road and you're trying to get them to go somewhere, you'd goad them. Or if they were pulling a cart you'd poke them. They've got very tough hide - a bull or oxen - and, you know, rubbing - you can whip them and they can't hardly feel it.

You can smack them and it's not like a horse. But so you have to goad them. And it hurts if a person runs into a goad. And if you're kicking against a goad, you just hurt yourself. The man who is driving the oxen is trying to direct it and when the oxen kick against the goads, they just bloody themselves.

And so God has been trying to guide Paul and Paul is going against the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been telling him that God was with stephen and the others. So Jesus is saying, 'you're just hurting yourself.' "So he, trembling" - he finally surrenders to the Holy Spirit and this obvious power of God, "he, trembling and astonished," - he's fallen to the ground at the sight of seeing the Lord. Now some wonder if he actually was on a horse and was knocked to the ground from the horse, or if he was walking and he says, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" Now, when we are converted, that's the first thing we need to do is surrender to the will of God and say, 'what is your will? I am willing to do your will.' "Then the Lord said to him, 'arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'" You notice he doesn't tell him everything he's going to do? He tells him the next step. And God will not always lay out for you everything he wants you to do, but he tells the next step.

And he says it "will be told what you must do." God could have told him. Angels could have told him. But the Lord is going to now use people. God uses people to reach people. God used the church.

God wanted Paul - Saul - to respect that the church was the vehicle through which he was going to be preaching the truth. And he said, 'look, this church that you've been persecuting, I'm going to send someone from the church. They're going to teach you what you should do. It's very interesting. And so, Paul, who thought he had great light, he realizes that he was in great darkness.

And it goes on to say, "and the men who journeyed" - I'm in verse 7 - "and the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." Now they just - they saw the light - "then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened" - the blinding light - he probably was cowering and closing his eyes and hiding his face, like the apostles on the mount of transfiguration - opening his eyes "...he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into damascus." That blinding light that he saw probably did some permanent damage. And, at first, he was blinded - couldn't see at all. After three days of fasting, repenting and praying, ultimately ananias comes and lays hands on him and prays for him and something like scales fell from his eyes. It's almost like there was a burnt layer that came off of his eyes and he could see but he never saw perfectly again.

And I think that was the thorn in Paul's side. He was handicapped for the rest of his life through this encounter with Jesus. One reason we think that Paul had eyesight problems is because when he was being tried, he didn't know the high priest that was only a few feet away sitting on the bench. He didn't recognize who it was. Paul had other people write letters for him and he would sign the letter.

And, once or twice, when he did write a letter, because he didn't have a secretary at hand, he said, 'look at what large characters I'm using to write you.' You know, some people, when they can't see, they've got to write real big. Anybody ever see those phones for old people that can't see? Each letter is like that big. And so - and Paul never traveled alone because he kind of needed someone to help guide him around because they didn't have lenscrafters back then and if you had bad eyesight, you just kind of had to live with it or you had somebody that went around with you and kept you from walking off the road. So Paul prayed that he might be permanently healed. Three times he prayed about this thorn in his side and God said, 'my strength is made perfect in weakness.

' So many believe that this was the thorn that Paul struggled with - is just bad eyesight. After Jacob wrestled with the angel, Jesus, did he limp the rest of his life? Yes. And after Paul had his encounter with Jesus, he never forgot it. Every day he looked out on a world that reminded him that he thought he had great light but he was actually in darkness. And that's our next verse, I think.

Someone's going to read for us in - did we do that yet? Corinthians 4:6? No. Go ahead. 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. Thank you very much. And he was kind enough to do that in south african for us.

Paul thought he had great light. He thought that he was leading the blind. What does Jesus say about that? Matthew 15:14, "let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind and if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." Jesus went on to say in John 9:41, "...if you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'we see.' Therefore your sin remains." Now Paul was leading these other people to damascus to arrest jews. He thought he was - he had great light - and he thought that the Christians were in darkness.

What happens after he runs into Jesus? Who's leading who? Suddenly, he can't see. And who is it that has to come and pray that his eyes are opened? The Christians. You know, there's an interesting story about when Saul becomes Paul, he has a showdown with a false teacher - a sorcerer - and Paul prays that he would be struck with blindness - the very thing that happened to him. His name was elymas, the sorcerer. And, matter of fact, I'm kind of getting ahead of myself but that may be where Paul actually gets his name changed and part of the reason for that.

So - have you ever been really wrong before and then had to realize and admit that you were wrong? It's kind of embarrassing, isn't it? Is it humbling? Yeah. I used to make fun of people that believed in creation. I thought they were so ignorant. I was absolutely sincere. I mean, after all, I went to school and several of my teachers taught this and scientists believed it and I saw programs about it on tv and the idea that people believe that God just spoke things into existence - I just felt sorry for them.

I really did. I was absolutely sincere. I felt that they were so ignorant, I wondered how they could be so blinded and when I began to finally examine the evidence - not even talking about the Bible - the Bible helped - but when I began to look at the 'scientific' evidence, I felt so bad that I had misled so many people and made fun of people and humiliated people and called them ignorant. I realized I was wrong and there's a number of other times I've had to realize I'm wrong. Paul had to realize and admit he was very wrong about this and it was quite a struggle.

It goes on to say that those who were leading him brought him, then, to damascus. "Saul arose and when his eyes were opened he saw no one; but they led him by the hand and brought him to damascus. And he was three days without sight and he neither ate nor drank." Now there's plenty of people in the Bible that fasted three days, but a severe fast - what they call a radical fast - is a fast where you not only don't eat but you don't drink. You don't drink anything - no water. Have you ever gone 24 hours without any liquid? And every now and then you have to go to the doctor for some blood test or medical procedure and they say, 'don't drink anything until you come in.

' And that's so hard for me - the first thing I do is I heat up water and drink in the morning. And you start getting thirsty after a day. Then your second day - have you ever gone 24 hours without drinking anything? And you go into your second day? They had a family - husband and wife - they were traveling across the white sands desert this week in - near alamagordo, New Mexico - a french family. They didn't realize how far it was and they didn't take enough water. They were hiking the trail - mini hike, but it was over 100 degrees that day.

They got disoriented, they got separated, and the parents, realizing they were running out of water, they gave their water to their son. When they finally found them, the mother and father had died from a lack of thirst - lack of water - one day. How many of you read that story? It happened this week. One day - under the right conditions you can die from exposure. The boy was terribly dehydrated but he survived.

And three days - no water - is a radical fast. Now there's a few times that's happened in the Bible. It happens here with Paul. You can read in the book of Jonah that when Jonah preached in nineveh, their repentance was so thorough, the King issued a proclamation: 'let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Do not let them eat or drink water.

' It doesn't say how long it was but they had a severe fast. And then with Esther when the whole Jewish nation was facing annihilation, she sent a message to mordecai and said, 'go to the jews who are present in shushan and fast for me. Neither eat nor drink for three days.' Now, that's not a health fast, you realize, that's a life or death fast - when you don't eat or drink - and so Paul, when he does not eat or drink for three days, he was ready to die. He was so mortified he just - have you ever gotten some really bad news and you just can't eat? Sometimes you can be in such a state of depression - that you get such bad news you can't eat or drink. You don't even want to take care of any of your body.

And that's what Paul is doing. He is - he's thinking about the blood that's on his hands - of these innocent Godly people that he killed. He's thinking that he has been fighting against the jehovah that Israel was raised up to serve and proclaim that here they have killed their Messiah and he was - even after that he went on - took it to the next level - and he killed the Messiah's followers. So Paul is really overcome with severe repentance now. The impression of what he saw when he realized he was guilty of the blood of Jesus is deeply, permanently on his mind.

Now who qualifies as an apostle? Do any people today say they are apostles? Yes, not in our church. We typically don't do that. But every now and then you'll hear on the radio there's an apostle this and apostle that. But you know why we don't say that we have apostles today? Even though they had these orders of the church - we have church leaders that may fill similar capacities - the apostles were the ones who actually, personally saw Jesus and that he spoke to personally. And the last one that fit in that category that we know of.

Now after the time of Saul there were people like apollos who was later referred to as an apostle, but Saul - or Paul - was the last one that Jesus called to be an apostle. Some have wondered when the apostles took - when they called matthias, maybe he wasn't the right choice. And at the time of Paul's conversion, some of the other apostles may have died. We believe the first one who died was James so that the other eleven were still alive and he may have been Jesus' official replacement for Judas. I've heard these different arguments, but this is the last time Christ appeared.

Can you tell me - well, Jesus appears to the apostle John, but they had already met before. That was not a new appearance. There's no other individual that it's recorded that Christ appears to individually like this and so this is a very dramatic experience. So let's just read on a little further with his conversion, bring out a few more points and then we'll talk about his mission word. And it says - so then he comes - he's three days without sight - he doesn't eat or drink.

Now let's go to another part of damascus - verse 10 I'm in acts , verse 10 - "now there was a certain disciple at damascus named ananias;" - now when you read in acts chapter 5, there's another ananias. Is he a good one or a bad one? Bad. Chapter 5 - bad one - chapter - good one. It was a common name back in the Bible. So - just like you're going to find, you know, you find the name Jesus several times in the Bible.

You're going to find the name Judas - there's a good Judas and a bad Judas. And so, it was a common name - disciple named ananias; "and to 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 at the house of Judas for one called Saul of tarsus, for behold, he is praying.'" - Does God see us when we're praying? - "And in a vision he has seen a man named ananias" - God has actually revealed to Paul that someone named ananias is going to come - "coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." Did they heal by laying on of hands sometimes? "Then ananias answered," - he kind of remonstrates with the Lord - he says, "...i have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints..." - 'Lord, maybe you're not aware - let me fill you in. You're going to be glad you asked me about this, Lord. There's something I need to tell you. This is the guy' - I mean, does God not know anything? Sometimes we think we're filling God in.

He says, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem." - And he's here - word's already reached us - he's here because he's got: "authority from the chief priest to bind all who call on your name.'" You don't want to - you don't want us to go and heal him?' - "But the Lord said to him, 'go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine..." Do you remember when God takes the sheet down from heaven and says, 'Peter, arise and eat.' And Peter says, 'no, Lord, not so.' Sometimes they wondered, 'is it a test?' "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before gentiles, Kings, and the children of Israel." - So not only gentiles but jews. Now, when is Peter called to be an apostle to the gentiles? (Inaudible) chapter 10 - next chapter, right? When he goes to cornelius. Here, in chapter 9, it's already being announced by Jesus that he recognizes Paul is going to have a great work among the gentiles. Although he doesn't start there, that ends up becoming his prominent mission - "for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake." Does God sometimes show apostles ahead of time that they will suffer? Has he shown us? Did Jesus say all that live Godly will suffer persecution? Does that include anyone here? That depends. Do you plan on living Godly? All who live Godly will suffer persecution.

Jesus said, 'if they persecuted me, they'll persecute you.' What did Jesus say to Peter? 'When you were young you girded yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old another will gird you and you will stretch forth your hands' - signifying that he was going to die by crucifixion. So sometimes the Lord let's them know ahead of time what they have to experience so that they can brace themselves. Now, it's not so you can live in fear. "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake." Was Paul willing to suffer? Matter of fact, Paul was almost eager to suffer. Did Jesus say, 'rejoice if you're persecuted for righteousness sake - rejoice and be exceedingly glad'? So for the Christian, when God says you might suffer for his sake, is that bad news or is that an honor? When the disciples were whipped in acts chapter 5 and they went out of the presence of the priests.

It says 'they rejoiced.' It said they were worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. We typically - I don't know about you, but I don't, you know, go looking for opportunities to be flogged for Christ. I mean, if it happens, praise the Lord, but nobody really wants it - but Paul sort of did because he was guilty of killing so many Christians he almost felt like it was some kind of self-atonement. If he could just suffer for Christ's sake, that would be a privilege for Paul. So ananias, true to what Jesus said, he went his way - he goes down straight street.

Isn't it interesting that Paul is converted on straight street? Straight is the way - actually it's a different word - straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life - that word straight means 'difficult' - "and 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," - these thin layers that had been burnt by the vision of Christ finally blinked off and he could see - and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized." Now wait a second. He got baptized right after his first Bible study. Is that a good policy for evangelists? No, but if you're studying with somebody that already knows the health message, they already know the state of the dead, they already have their study on the truth of the Scripture, there weren't too many things you could study with Paul he didn't already know. All he needed to know was the study about Jesus being the Messiah, right? You couldn't give him the study on Revelation because it hadn't been written yet - before baptism. You know, we always like to take them through some of the prophecies in Revelation - they weren't written yet.

He already understood now the study in Daniel, that Jesus was the Messiah - so we think they did. But so he was ready for baptism. It says, 'arise and be baptized' - and he lays hands on him so that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now this is something I'm just going to spend a moment on because it's a pet peeve of mine, because I think it's biblical, but we put a big emphasis on water baptism in our church - and we should because Jesus said, 'unless you're born of the water you can't enter the kingdom of heaven.' But Jesus said more than that. He said, unless you're born of the water and the Spirit.

' You know, when Philip went down - and we studied this last week - and he baptized in samaria, they then asked for John and Peter to come and lay hands on them that they might receive the holy spirit. So they prayed after their water baptism, that they might have spirit baptism. Here he prays that he might have water and spirit baptism for Paul. Jesus was baptized in the water and the Holy Spirit came down at the same time. Paul, in acts 19, when he preaches to the ephesian believers - they'd been baptized by John the baptist - he rebaptizes them, lays hands on them and they receive the holy spirit and speak in tongues.

In the new testament, they recognized the importance of both baptisms. When Karen and I were in russia, everybody wanted me to baptize them because they always want the evangelist to do it and there's no value in the evangelist doing it. And it's a little harder because they had like 200 people and you can't - efficiently - one person can't do that. So I said 'what I'll do, as they come up out of the pool, I will lay hands on everybody and pray for them.' And that really made them all happy and it was biblical. And so I think that it's appropriate, when we have a baptism that we also have a service - maybe after they dry off and clean up - that we pray for them.

Either going in or coming out - you can get the Holy Spirit before baptism. Didn't that happen to cornelius? And then he was baptized. You can get the Holy Spirit after baptism. You can have it during baptism. It can happen any way, but I think we ought to be teaching both baptisms.

Amen. I know you sound pentecostal when you do that, but as a former pentecostal said, 'amen.' (Laughter) but it's biblical and you must have both, Jesus said. You must have both. So he lays hands on him and he receives the Holy Spirit. Now I want to get to something here and - well, let me just finish this - he receives food - probably drink also - ".

..he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples..." - What is he doing? Studying all the things he didn't understand - and "immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that he is The Son of God." No sooner does a person become converted than they've got to tell other people. Matter of fact, he was preaching so strongly that his life was being threatened and he had to escape from damascus and they said he wasn't welcome to preach there anymore. "Then all who heard" - verse 21 - said "...'Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this 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 this Jesus is the Christ. Now after many days.

..the jews plotted to kill him." Alright, let's talk about how did he get his name changed? Jump with me - we're still under the section about going from Saul to Paul - jump with me to acts 13:6. In a moment someone's going to read acts 22:21 - who has that? Okay, you'll have a moment though. Acts 13:6-11 - follow me - "now when they had gone through the" - and who wrote the book of acts? Luke. Luke. Good friend of Paul.

He's a firsthand witness of this - "now when they had gone through the island to paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a jew whose name was bar-Jesus," - isn't that interesting? His name is son of Jesus, because Jesus just meant Joshua - it was a very common name and that would have been bar-yashua - son of Joshua - very common name - "who was with the proconsul, sergius Paulus," - what's his name? Sergius Paulus - he's the leader - a governor - "an intelligent man. This man called for barnabas and Saul" - now up until this point in acts, every time Luke is talking about the missionary team - they went out two by two - the missionary team was barnabas and Saul - barnabas and Saul - barnabas always comes first. But notice, after this story it switches. Paul's name changes and it's Paul and barnabas it's interesting. So something happened here - "and sought to hear the Word of God.

" Sergius Paulus wants to hear the Word of God. "An intelligent man" - he's a leader - "but elymas the sorcerer" - that was his other name - now, notice what's happening: Luke is saying, 'let me give you the translation. Luke, who's writing to theophilus says, 'I'm going to give it to you in the other language - elymas - that's his other name - it wasn't just bar-Jesus - he began - he withstood them - he resisted them - seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. And something happens to Saul. The Holy Spirit comes on Saul where he decides to be the preacher.

Barnabas used to preach and Saul would pray. Now, all of a sudden, Saul just can't contain himself - he becomes angry - and Saul, who is also called Paul - and after he says, 'he is also called Paul' and he gives his other name, he never calls him Saul again. It's just an interesting change. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," - his face flashes with the Spirit - "looked intently at him (the false sorcerer) and said, "o full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind," - Paul knew what that was like, didn't he? "Not seeing the sun for a long time." - He's merciful - he's not said 'forever' - you're going to be blind for a few days like I was because you've been misleading people like I was. Maybe you'll repent like I did - "and immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

" What happened after Saul saw Jesus? They had to lead him by the hand. Isn't that interesting? From here on he's no longer Saul, he's now Paul. It's no longer barnabas and Saul, it's Paul and barnabas. He sort of takes a lead role because a miracle takes place and we don't know that barnabas was performing very many miracles. So now we're going to go to Paul the missionary.

And in Romans 15, verse 9, and it says, "and that the gentiles might glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: 'for this reason I will confess to you among the gentiles, and sing to your name.'" And Paul, now, is also quoting the Psalms, he's quoting the old testament about this mission that would go to the gentiles because the jews were wondering what's happening here. Go ahead, read for me acts 22:21. "Then he said to me, 'depart, for I will send you far from here to the gentiles.'" Now this is the testimony that Paul is giving in Jerusalem. They just about tried to kill him. Paul was so enthusiastic.

He was ready to die for the Lord. Matter of fact, if you said, 'Paul, you better not go there. They'll persecute you.' He would charge into it. 'Paul, don't go into the arena, there's a riot in there.' He said, 'let me go preach to them.' He wanted to go into the arena. They said, 'Paul, don't go to Jerusalem because agabus the prophet said 'you're going to be bound and imprisoned there.

' He said, 'I'm ready to be bound and die for Jesus in Jerusalem.' And now - now he's arrested in Jerusalem. The mob tries to tear him limb from limb. He says to the soldier, let me preach to them from the steps. So he's preaching to the crowd and when he preaches in Hebrew they all got quiet. And they listen to him until he got to the place where he said these words, 'Jesus spoke to me and said, 'depart for I will send you to the gentiles.

' And when they heard that he was going to take the good news about Jesus to the gentiles, the riot erupted again and they said, 'he is not fit to live.' Because they were really upset that the Gospel, now, was not just going to the jews. After the stoning of stephen the Gospel began to go to the gentiles with cornelius and then more and more. When their synagogues rejected them Paul said, 'look, seeing that you reject the Word of God - you're unworthy of eternal life - lo, we turn to the gentiles.' He'd preach in the synagogue; some of the jews would leave. The gentiles would get - would be very interested but some of the jews would resist. The next week he'd preach just to the gentiles - they'd all come.

And so Paul gradually - his ministry went more and more - he's the one who wrote the book of Romans. His ministry goes more and more from the jews to the gentiles, but he was also the very best of the ones disputing with the jews. And then you can read where Paul is sharing his testimony in acts , verse 16, "but rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you." - God - Jesus revealed several things to him along the way - "I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the gentiles, to whom I now send you," - Paul was not killed by the jews, even though they tried to kill him several times. You remember, the jews actually made a vow that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. And there were about 40 of them that made this vow.

Another radical eat and drink vow I need to put in my - eat and drink fast I need to put in my notes here - "and I will deliver you from the Jewish people as well as from the gentiles to whom I now send you to open their eyes, in order" - this is a wonderful verse - "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'" They're made by faith in me. This talks about righteousness by faith. That is a great passage. Matter of fact, I've quoted that as a stand-alone verse about what the Gospel is before. What is our mission? We're to go - 'I send you' - 'to open their eyes' - through preaching the word - 'to turn them from darkness to light' - 'from the power of satan to God that' - there's two powers out there - "that they may receive forgiveness of sins' - go from the death penalty - 'and an inheritance' - eternal life - 'among those who are sanctified' - were made holy - how? - 'By faith' - in who? - 'Me.

' God saves us. That's a great, great verse. I don't know if you've ever broken that down. But this is what the ministry of Paul was. This is what the mission of the church is - is to get that word out.

And this is really what God had called the Jewish people to do. They were to be a light to the gentiles and to - God put the Jewish nation right there on the intersection of three continents so that they could do what happened during the days of Solomon when people like the queen of sheba and these other Kings would come to Israel and find out about the true God. But by the time of Christ, they began to think, 'we are the chosen ones. You're all defiled and if you come to us we'll, you know, one by one we might screen you and we might allow a few of you gentiles - if we can proselytize you and you qualify, we'll let you join our church.' But they did not go out trying to give their message. They felt like they were exclusive and privileged and they wanted to keep the club small.

And it was God, through Paul and through Peter, he said, 'no. Whosoever will.' And those that believe, they become Abraham's seed. Anyway, that's probably a good place to finish with our lesson today and I want to remind those who are watching, we do have a free offer and it is called satan's confusing counterfeits. Saul was one of those who was confused by those counterfeits. We'll send you a free copy of this if you just call -788-3966 - that's 866-study-more.

We'll send you one of these or you can read it for free online as well. God bless you until we study his word together again next week. Nothing is more important than coming to Jesus and going for Jesus. Have you got plans this fall to bring a soul to Christ? Plan to attend the heroes of faith evangelistic program uplinked from lansing, Michigan from October 2 to October 10. Plan now to attend with your family and friends and learn from the past how we can be heroes of faith today.

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