For Such a Time As This: The Apostle Paul

For Such a Time As This: The Apostle Paul

Scripture: Romans 15:17, Acts 9:1-9, 2 Peter 3:1-8
Date: 07/05/2008  Lesson: 1
Paul's background, education, conversion and love of God made him the best person to take the gospel to the Gentile world.

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to Sacramento "central study hour" this morning. A very special welcome to those of you that are joining us here in our church, those visitors, our members alike, and a very special welcome to you that are joining us across the country and around the world for our study this morning. If you're live on the internet, in radio, in television, however you're joining us, welcome. Our first hymn this morning we're going to sing is, "there is a green hill far away," hymn 164.

And this comes as a request from sophie in nairobi, kenya; and joey shepherd in new zealand. And joey says this is sent in by her brother, joey, in west australia. He says, "my sister is the only adventist on the island. As kids we used to sing this hymn in Sunday school." Hymn 164, "there is a green hill far away," all 5 verses. [Music] If you have a special hymn you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at www.

saccentral.org. And there you can click on the "contact us" link. And it will lead you through and there you can request any hymn in our hymnal. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next request is "a shelter in a time of storm," one of my favorites, hymn 528.

And this comes as a request from paletti, in American samoa; birdie and ralph in the bahamas; robert in Canada; earnest in fiji; Benjamin and deonne in granada; David in jamaica; richard in marshuka in the netherlands antilles; stephen in papua new guinea; nova in saint lucia; freddy in the united arab emirates; paige in united kingdom; raulie in California; mortimar in Colorado; florence in Massachusetts; tina in Montana; Samson in Minnesota; joyanne-sharon in New York; jezreel in New York; panina in Pennsylvania; and bob in Washington. It's a favorite of a lot of people. Hymn number 528, we're gonna sing 4 stanzas, , 2, 3, and 4. [Music] Let's pray. Dear Father in Heaven, we know a storm is coming.

And we know that you are our only hope and you are our only shelter. We ask you to please bless us today as we come before you with open hearts to learn more of you, to become more like you, to be open books, that we can-- you can use us to lead others to you, to hasten your coming. I especially ask you to be with Pastor Doug this morning as he brings us Your Words of life. Lord, just help His Words to be Your Words. Help us to take them with us as we leave today, as we leave this place.

Help us to be shining lights in a dark world. And Lord, we just are so looking forward to your coming. We pray that you come soon. And we pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Our study this morning will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much, jolyne, and our musicians, our singers. I appreciate that. That song is very appropriate. At the time of this recording, the news has been filled with tornados in Iowa, floods in Iowa, people being evacuated, people being evacuated just north of here in paradise, California.

I flew down to bakersfield this week. And flying back I could see fires everywhere. And the wind was really roaring. So we've had quite a few storms, had tornados and floods and fires. It's good to know that Jesus is our shelter during that time of storm.

Amen? Cheer up, it's gonna get worse. Before Jesus comes in some ways it will. I want to welcome our friends who are studying with us today. We're just getting ready to launch today in our first study dealing with the new quarter's lesson, "agents of hope, God's great missionaries." As always we have a special offer that goes along with our study today. We'll send you a free copy of that.

All you do is call the phone number. That's 866-788-3966. Or an acronym would be -study-more. Some are listening or watching on the internet. And we invite you as well if you'd like to call in for that.

Also want to remind you, some people say, "oh we missed the study this week. We travel around the country a lot and meet with a lot of people who study with us and sometimes in preparation for teaching a class, and we want to remind them that they can also listen on the amazingfacts.tv website. And that's very simply: amazingfacts.tv. And if you go there you can see the archives of our Bible study lessons as well as this program and some of the church studies too. Amazingfacts.

tv just has not only constant sermon-- evangelistic sermons that are going, but there's archives where you can click and get to the different Sabbath school studies like this one. Well, we're going to get right into our lesson dealing with the subject of God's great missionaries. You know there's an interesting story that's told in an introduction to the whole quarter. And it deals with a story that Ellen white tells about a man and a group that are traveling. They get stuck in the snow.

And one man is so cold and tired, he's just ready to give up and perish. But he hears one of his comrades moaning, also caught in the snow not far away. And he thinks, you know, "I'm ready to give up, but I can't let my friend die." So he gets over there and he gets his friend and rubs him, tries to get the circulation going and gets him and tries to get him moving. And in the process of getting his friend moving and trying to carry his friend back to shelter, he is kept warm. And so in saving someone else, he is saved.

And one of the things that we learn as a common thread though all of these missionaries that we're going to explore in our next quarter, that often the process of them reaching others was the process God used to reach them. It's like the Lord said to Peter, "Peter, satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat. And when you're converted, strengthen the brethren." Now Jesus says this to Peter after he's already been out teaching and preaching to others. So if the Lord waited until all the apostles were thoroughly converted before he used them, would he have been using them during his first 3 1/2 years of ministry? You're being used by the Lord as a missionary is part of your conversion process. I remember hearing a very steering story given by a missionary.

And he said he went to the mission field and he was working with another mission family. And there's great conflict between he and his family and this other missionary family. And they're all supposed to be working together for the pagans. And he realized that the Lord sent him to the mission field that he might be converted. He didn't really realize how he needed conversion until he began working for others.

Sometimes part of our conversion process is working to save others. And so don't wait until you think you're perfect before you realize God can use you as a missionary. Be willing to share what he's given to you. Now our lesson today is dealing with--it's lesson number 1-- and it's dealing with one of the most influential people in the new testament. And that's first known as Saul, later known as Paul, Paul the missionary.

"For such a time as this," the apostle Paul, now there'll be other studies on Paul in future lessons, but today we're gonna deal a little bit with introducing Paul, one of the most influential people in the new testament. And we got a lot of information here we're gonna look at. We have a memory verse. Romans 15:17. I'd invite you to say that with me, Romans 15:17.

I'll be reading it right out of the quarterly, which is quoting from the niv. And it says here--you ready? "Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God." We're gonna consider a lot of chapters today, but the main thing we're dealing with today, and you see it illustrated in your lesson is the conversion of Paul. Paul had this dramatic conversion. You ever heard someone use the experience, "on the damascus road?" It's sort of has become a metaphor for a dramatic conversion. In most cases, when people are converted, Jesus talked about it.

It's like the wind blowing. You don't know where it came from or where it goes. Sometimes it's a process of events. It happens over a matter of years. It happens with the illumination of your mind, little by little as you study a series of events.

But every now and then you can find a person who just has a conversion that's like flipping a switch, like lightening. Martin luther had one of those "damascus road" conversion experiences, where he literally was struck by lightening. Friend who was traveling with him was killed by that same lightening. And it just shocked him into a real dramatic conversion and seeking after God. He knew that he was right at death's door.

Some people have an 11th hour conversion, a dramatic conversion, like the thief on the cross. Some people have a near-death experience and it just changes their prospective forever. And Paul had one of those. Paul's conversion was not only dramatic in that Christ appeared to him; Paul's conversion was dramatic in that he thought he was on the right road. Some people have dramatic conversions.

They know they're lost and they're running from God and God gets their attention, like the prodigal son. Paul thought he was serving God. And he found out in a radical way, he was serving the devil thinking he was serving God. So it was a real change in his religion and a change in his thinking. The apostle Paul is probably-- he's arguably the most influential person in the new testament next to Jesus only.

I'm talking about the new testament here. If you were to go through the whole Bible, well, David maybe wrote as much of the old testament as anybody next to Moses. David wrote, of course, all the Psalms. And Moses wrote Genesis and probably job, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy. So Paul though wrote the majority of the new testament.

Have you ever wondered--i was shocked when I learned this. I read the Bible for years before I heard somebody say it. And I thought, "that's too simple." How did they ever arrange the books in the new testament in order? The books of Paul--well, first of all, you've got the Gospels. Then you've got the books of history, which is just acts. That's the only book of history.

And then you've got the writings of the apostles starting with the writings of Paul, Romans. You know how they're arranged? In order of their length. Romans is longer than Corinthians, which is longer than 2 Corinthians. Then you just make your way down. I thought, "oh, I never knew that.

" And you get to the end of Paul's books and you've got, you know, Titus and Philemon. And the smallest ones are there in the end. And then you move on into the writings of the other apostles. But block out everything written--and Hebrews is arranged differently, 'cause they weren't sure who wrote Hebrews. Paul probably wrote Hebrews.

It's style is a little different. The reason for the difference is his audience is different. He's writing to specifically jews and trying to appeal to them using their vernacular. But so you look at the bulk of the new testament is written by the apostle Paul. Some other things that are interesting is when you consider his education.

Somebody read for me Romans 11:1. "I say then, has God cast away his people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." All right, do we learn something here about Paul? He is a jew. Were any of the apostles gentiles? No. Were any of the Gospel writers gentiles? Yes. Sometimes people get confused.

It is true; one of the writers of the Gospels, Luke, was a gentile, good friend of Paul. But all of the apostles to start with were jews. Isn't that right? And Paul tells us not only as a jew, there were three principle tribes that came back from the Babylonian captivity: judah, Benjamin, levi. All of the apostles, they weren't from the 12 different tribes, 12 apostles, but they were principally from 3 tribes. They were from those who returned from the Babylonian captivity: judah, Benjamin, levi.

Paul was from what tribe? Benjamin. When there was a big split, and The Son of Solomon, rehoboam, split, and jeroboam went to the north, the ten tribes. The three tribes in the southern kingdom were judah, then the youngest son of Jacob, Benjamin, and the priests, the levites. Why did the levites stay in the south? Because in the northern kingdom they began to worship differently. They started worshipping idols.

The temple was in Jerusalem. The levites all migrated down towards the south. Matthew: what tribe was he from? What was his second name? Matthew--levi, right? Probably from the tribe of levi. Paul from the tribe of Benjamin. Now I always find a way to interject this because I just am a little bit proud of my heritage.

My mother's maiden name was tarshis. My mother's Jewish. My grandfather used to tell us we're related to the apostle Paul. At one time he told us we were related to Jonah, 'cause remember Jonah rose to flee the tarshish. But I don't know how that would make us related to Jonah.

But I don't know if it's true. I'd like to believe it's true. But in Hebrew, it's tarshis. In Greek it's tarsus, Saul of tarsus. So I love to think that.

That'd be fun to think you had that heritage. Problem was Paul wasn't married. So it must be through a cousin if that's true. That would mean that the tarsus was connected with the tribe of Benjamin. I don't know.

But it's fun to think about. Did I give somebody Corinthians 1:26? "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." Don't miss that, what you just read. Among the early church, were there a lot of educated leaders? Did Jesus go to the university to recruit his apostles? Or did he go to the shepherd stalls and to the fishing docks when he got the apostles? So when Paul says, "not many wise. Not many noble. Not many mighty.

" But what was Paul's background? Acts 22:3. "I am indeed a jew, born in tarsus of cilicia, but brought up in the city at the feet of gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of The Father's law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today." All right, so right away we learn something about Paul. He is thoroughly, deeply educated in the traditions of the jews at that day. He tells us that he was a pharisee of the pharisees. He studied at the feet of gamaliel, who was one of the great rabbis contemporary with Jesus.

Matter of fact, by the time of Jesus, gamaliel was already well-respected and getting older. And he lived a long time from what we know. You remember? The apostles, when the sanhedrin was thinking of imprisoning them, gamaliel is the one who spoke up. And they listened to him. He was highly respected.

And he said, "look, there have been a number of false Christs that have come along. And when they died, their followers were scattered. Now this man Jesus is dead. If he's not of God, his followers were scattered. But if he is of God, be careful lest ye be found to fight against God.

" You remember the one who said that? "Beware lest you be found to fight even against God." That was gamaliel. And so he was very respected, an aged leader. Paul was educated. He had his doctorate in theology. He spoke several languages.

You read in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul says, "I speak with tongues more than ye all." Now some people think that means that Paul got involved in the ecstatic utterances and glossolalia and he spoke in those kinds of tongues. It's not at all what he means. The word, "tongues," there means languages. Paul is saying, "I speak more languages than all of you." He is Saul of tarsus. He was born in this Greek city.

He spoke Hebrew. He spoke latin. He spoke Greek. He spoke probably other dialects of the roman empire, very educated. But there were not many wise, not many noble, not many educated that Jesus called.

the Lord typically called the common people that were bright, but not formally educated. Jesus then educated them. And Paul went through an education with Jesus too. So we're getting a little background on our hero here: born in tarsus, the capital of cilicia, a roman province in present-day turkey. It was noted for its goat's hair cloth.

It had very fine, kind of like angoran goat's hair cloth, which was widely used for tent-making, which was Paul's trade. And so Paul grew up surrounded by that. By the way, the pharisees believed that all of the faithful, even those who were just--their major was theology--they all had to learn a practical skill. In our discussing the curriculum this week of weimar college and academy, we thought--talking about the work program up there. And some were saying, "well, what if a student wants to come and they don't need any assistance for their tuition.

And they are willing to pay the extra money so they don't have to participate in the work program. Do they have to work? And we talked about it. We said, "yes. It doesn't matter how rich they are. It doesn't matter if they can pay all the tuition.

Every student has to work; because we think that's part of education. It doesn't matter if they came with a silver spoon in their mouth. If they don't know practical skills, they're less of a man or woman for it. They all, I think, need to know these things. And so the pharisees believed that.

And even the greatest theological minds among the pharisees, they spent some time as an apprentice learning a practical trade. That was considered a noble thing to do. An example: Abraham, how wealthy was he? I'm just giving you something to understand Paul and his background here. Would you think it's safe to say if a man's got 300 servants in his house, just trained as soldiers, 300 servants just trained as soldiers, that you're probably pretty wealthy? And when he left Egypt, he left with a lot of extra servants that were given. Abraham was extremely wealthy.

When the visitors came from another--these angels came with Jesus. You remember? And Abraham saw 'em. Who went and fetched a fatted calf? Abraham went to his servant and said, "prepare a fatted calf. Who was it that needed the bread? Sarah. Abraham went around like a maitre d' taking care of them himself.

They didn't think it was menial to serve. When eleazer--when Abraham chose a wife for his son, you know what the test was that eleazer used? A test of service. Now this was to be the bride of this very wealthy son of a nomad. And the test was, "will she water the camels?" So in the Jewish mind, practical labor was considered a nobel thing. So Paul was a tent-maker and he was not ashamed of it.

All right, just giving you a little more background. Now go with me to acts 7:58. This is the first place where Paul appears in the Bible. Somebody read that for me. Did I give that verse? Right here, les.

"And cast him out of the city, and they stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the young man's feet whose name was Saul." Okay, introduction. Here comes Saul, his first appearance in the Bible. What do we find him doing, first time, first little cameo of Saul? What is he doing? He's a witness to an execution of the first Christian martyr. He is holding the cloaks of those that are hurling stones.

You know. If you want to wind up and give a good pitch, it's hard to do if you've got your cloak on. So they took off their cloaks, and they said, "here you watch this." Sometimes they had pockets with money in 'em. "You watch it. We're checking our coats with you.

" And he's standing there as a witness overseeing the execution of stephen. All right, next place. Oh, by the way, it calls him what? "A young man." How old do you think he was? In the Bible, they called you a young man up to 30. When it says that David was a young man. He went to fight Goliath.

At the same time it says, "David was a young man." Another man says he was, "a man of war." If you weren't married-- David wasn't married yet. We don't think that Paul was married either. You ever hear about mrs. Paul? He talks about, "being as I am." And then he refers to being single. So sometimes if you weren't married, they called you a young man.

I used to think 30 was old, 'til I got 50. Then I meet these whippersnappers that are 30 and I think, "oh, young guy." Ha! So, just to give you--now one reason I also say this, 30 years later, after this experience where it calls him a young man, Paul refers to himself in Philemon as, "Paul the aged." And he was probably 60 then. So he was roughly 28, 30 years of age when he first had this experience. And he was referred to as a young man. Now acts 8:1, someone read that for me.

Did I give that out? "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and samaria, except the apostles." All right, thank you. Main part I want you to notice here is the first sentence. "Saul was," what? "Consenting unto his death." So Saul was just not a witness at stephen's death. In order to appreciate the dramaticness--is that a word, dramaticness? They ought to make it one.

You understood it. That's a good word. I could run for president now. Ha, ha! In order for them to understand how dramatic his conversion was, you need to understand how against Christianity he was. He's consenting to the death of stephen.

He's supporting it. Acts 9:1, someone read that for me. Did I give that verse out? "And Saul, yet breathing out threatings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest." Now he's going to the high priest to get official permission to go to other cities to arrest and execute Christians. All right, so starts out he's a witness. But you might think, "well, he's bystander.

He's just watching their coats." But then you read he's consenting unto the death." And now you get to chapter 8 and he is "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." Wow. How does he feel about Christians? Let me tell you, and you can get this partly from putting these things together. You can read the book, "Acts of the Apostles." Was Paul there when stephen made his defense in the judgment hall? Probably. Yeah, he followed them all outside and watched the clothes while they executed him. He wasn't ready to throw stones at first, because I think Paul was moved by what he heard stephen say.

And his conscience was going through a battle. He saw his face illuminated. Paul, obviously he had a conscience. He later becomes a man of great conscience. He saw stephen's face illuminated, saying, "I see the heavens open and Jesus sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.

" And he saw that. He heard stephen say, "Lord, forgive them. Lay not this sin to their charge," when he died. And that troubled him. But as he expressed his concerns to the religious leaders, they convinced him more and more.

And in a way to stifle his nagging conscience--some people go against their conscience by fighting for the thing they don't even believe in, trying to convince themselves. You ever run into a person like that? You hear 'em in an argument and you can say, "you must not believe this because you're arguing in such way, it sounds like you're trying to convince yourself." And Paul, in order to quiet what he had seen and this evidence that made him think that maybe Jesus was real, maybe Christianity was true, he went hog wild in persecuting. By the way, in the last days, who do you think are going to be the most vehement opponents of the truth? In the last days, who do you think are going to be the most violent and aggressive persecutors of God's people? The ones who once believed it. In order to stifle their conscience, they go hog wild-- yeah, that's appropriate-- to fight the truth. So this is what's happening.

Now he's "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." All right, now we're gonna talk a little bit about his conversion. Go with me to acts 9. And, you know, probably the best way for us to do this is just allow me to read through it and I'll pause and comment along the way. Acts 9:1, so he is "breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, and he goes to the high priest." Tells us something else, does he have a relationship with the priesthood of Israel? He does. "And he asked letters from him to the synagogue of damascus, so that if he found any that were in the way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

" Now where is Paul going to look for Christians in damascus? Where in damascus? The synagogue. And he tells us later in his own testimony, he went to the synagogues. Why is Paul looking for Christians in the Jewish synagogues in foreign cities? What day of the week do Christians meet? They meet on Sabbath. Is that right? And who are they meeting with? They're meeting with the jews that are reading the same Bible they have. That's just something for you to think about, that he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

"And as he journeyed--" now he's on his way. He's not alone. He's got a contingent of soldiers with him, other witnesses, other temple guards maybe. "As he journeyed, he came near damascus, and suddenly," probably just on the brow of the hill. Damascus is in a valley.

There are two rivers there. He has a vision. "Suddenly a light shone." That means it came flashing like lightening from the sky, "suddenly around him from heaven." So bright that it knocks him to the ground. "He falls to the ground, and he hears a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'" Now this is the resonating voice of God. You know, as we're working at Amazing Facts on this Great Controversy dvd, it's called, "the cosmic conflict.

" Every now and then you've got Scripture being read, or you've got God saying something in Scripture. It's hard to get a person who's got a good God voice. You wanna get a-- boy, you wanna a good voice for the voice of God. You know, you can't get somebody with wimpy voice. It just ruins the whole thing.

You need that deep, resonating authoritative voice. So I tried to do that there. You can only do that when you first wake up in the morning. "Saul." And you know, obviously, he says, "why are you persecuting me?" And he's wondering, "who am I persecuting?" And he says bewildered, "who are you, Lord?" Now what is eternal life? John 17, what is eternal life? "This is life eternal, that they might know thee." Who is it that is destroyed for lack of knowledge? Eternal life is knowing the Lord. Jesus declares to the lost, "I do not know you.

" So Paul is now saying to the Lord, "who are you?" Does he know the Lord? Is he saved? He's working zealously for God, and he's lost. Are there gonna be people in the last days that will say, "Lord, Lord, we taught in your streets. We cast out devils. We did many wonderful works. We were zealous for you?" And he's gonna say, "I didn't know you, and you didn't know me.

" Paul is in this condition. He's very religious. You know, Jesus said, "the hour is coming. I think this is in John--is it John 16? "The hour is coming in which those that kill you will think they're serving God." It's happened before. It'll happen again.

Sometimes some of the most zealous persecutors. And who was the greatest enemy of the early church? Was it the pagans or was it friendly fire? Who was it that betrayed Joseph? The ishmaelites or his own brothers? Who were David's biggest enemies? Was it the philistines or was it his own king and his own son? It's often friendly fire that causes the most problems. Who is it that tried to stone Moses? The Egyptians or the jews? His own people. And in the last days, it's gonna be the same thing. "Those that came out from among us.

There shall arise wolves from among you." And so he hears this voice. He says, "who are you, Lord?" Who are you, Lord? He knows he's the Lord, but he's saying, "who are you?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus." Now, when the Lord says, "I am," what did God say to Moses when he said, "you are you?" "I am that I am." The eternal--you know, there's a lot of Gods that come and go with different fashions and fads. What's the popular God today? Who's the guru now? What's the idol that we're gonna worship? The Gods of the world change, but the God who is eternal, that all the other Gods are made out of, he's the one who made everything, he's the "I am." "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." Wow. Now can you imagine the shock that happened in Paul's mind when he heard those words? Here he is putting all of his heart and soul into persecuting Christianity. And by the way, when you hear Paul give his testimony at other times, he had been doing this for some time.

We don't know how long. It may have been a year or more. But it said that he was going here and there with great enthusiasm arresting and persecuting and killing Christians. It wasn't just stephen. Some time had gone by.

And he was going after the church. Now this was the last persecuting mission he's on. And what changed everything? Those words, "I am Jesus who you persecute." He thought he was working for God. And the God of the Bible, the God who wrote the Bible is the one he's persecuting. Can you imagine the shock, to think everything you're living for is wrong? You know, I've worked with people before who thought Christianity was their biggest enemy.

And they convert from Christianity. You've met people before, probably you've heard testimonies of folks who come to Christianity from islam. Or they come to Christianity from atheism. That was me. Hey, you know, you hear every and then on the news people who, you know, they're trying to get laws made to take "in God we trust" off the money, or to, you know, eliminate any kind of public prayer, get rid of these nativity scenes.

And they're just rabid. And they're rabid against God and any kind of God being portrayed in our society. And I'm not gonna get into the political and the religious, legal ramifications, all of that. But every now and then, some of those people have a conversion. And when they have a conversion, can you imagine the shock when the find out the thing that they were fighting against is the truth? It's real hard to swallow.

Paul had to eat humble pie when that happened. It reminds me of the story in the Bible of Paul's namesake. By the way, was Paul, Paul here? Or does it first call him Saul? Who was Paul named after? Saul. Did Saul fight against God? King Saul I'm talking about. He did.

Can you imagine that time where here's Saul, the King, he's putting all of his energy into trying to kill David. And David did nothing wrong, right? David was the anointed of God. By the way, Jesus is The Son of David. You see the parallel here? And then all of the sudden, David wakes up Saul one day. Saul is out hunting the hills, looking for David to kill him.

David shouts from the hillside, "Saul, Saul, wake up." This sound familiar? And the King wakes up, and says, "who is that? Is that the voice of you, David?" And he says, "you're trying to kill me, and I'm not your enemy. I'm your servant. I'm your friend. Why are you trying to kill me?" Do you remember this exchange in the old testament? And Saul was so ashamed. He says, "you know, you're righteous.

I'm guilty. Here I am trying to kill you, and you had a chance to kill me and you didn't." Could Jesus have killed Saul or Paul that day? They were enemies. Saul said, "I am trying to stomp out Christians." Jesus had every right to use his power to just go, pttt! Like lightening bolt, vaporize him. But he didn't. He tried to win him by love and kindness.

Now Paul had a choice here when Jesus said, "I'm Jesus who you persecute." He could have humbled himself, which he did. Or he could have said, you know, just hardened his heart and said, "I'm just not gonna believe in you." That would have been pretty futile when God speaks to you in heaven for you to argue with God. You know, even after David told Saul, "I'm not your enemy. Why you trying to kill me?" He had a change of heart, but it didn't last. He went back and hunted him again.

So there's a parallel here between Saul's namesake, king Saul, trying to kill David and Paul trying to kill The Son of David and his followers. You see that parallel there from the old testament? All right, back to the conversion story of Saul. He said, "I'm Jesus who you persecute. Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?" When they used to--you've probably seen maybe in some of these country where they have oxen in india or cambodia and the children are moving the oxen through the rice fields. They have a stick.

And the stick often has a point on it. Today the cowboys use something called a "hot shot." It's a stick that's filled with c batteries or d batteries. It's got a little electrode and a solenoid, so that you press the button and it sends out just a very powerful jolt. Any of you men ever gotten shocked by a spark plug wire when the engine's running? It's not like grabbing the 12-volt. That won't shock you.

You can grab the positive and negative, a 12-volt, that won't do it. But once it goes through a magneto and that electric impulse is magnified, it'll put you on your knees. The reason I say all that is because they would sharpen a stick and put one or two points on it. And they'd prod the cattle to get them to move, 'cause they got tough hides. They'd goad them on.

And here, basically-- and sometimes the cows, they kick against it because they don't like it. And so when someone's trying to prod them, they kick against it. Then they cut themselves kicking that sharp goad. They only hurt themselves worse. And God is saying to Paul, "how does it feel to kick against the cattle prod? It just hurts you.

" He says, "you're fighting your conscience. You're fighting the truth. It's not making you happy. It's making it worse." And when people are being drawn and impressed and convicted by the Holy Spirit, and they're running from God--and I just feel impressed to say right now there are probably some who are listening, maybe some here, maybe some who are watching. And you're kicking against the goad.

And you're just hurting yourself. You're never gonna be satisfied. You're fighting against God. And you're just on a path of destruction. the Lord might be trying to get your attention.

And so he, verse 6, "trembling and astonished." That's an understatement. He was shaking violently. He was blind. His mouth was open. His eyes were open.

He couldn't see. He is in a state of shock. Here everything he had been living for was wrong. "He trembling and astonished," he said, "Lord, what do you want me to do? What do I do know? You gonna kill me? Where do I go?" And he simply says, "arise." You know when God calls us, he says, "arise." What did God say to Jonah when he called him? "Arise and go." Isn't that what he said? "Arise and go to damascus." And what did God tell Jonah to do? Was Jonah going the wrong way and running from God, like Saul? He said, "arise and go to nineveh." Not very far from each other, are they? Two pagan cities. "Arise and go.

" Did Saul know the Bible? Did Saul know the story of Jonah going the wrong way? "Arise and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." How come he didn't tell 'em everything right there? Did Jesus appear to him again? Not for years. He did, but not for years. The next time God spoke to him, he spoke through people. God doesn't often appear to us and give us verbal information; .999% of the time or more, when God speaks to you and me he's gonna speak through somebody. And he said, "I'm gonna give you more information.

You go to the city and wait." But when he gave the next information, it came through people. It came through His Word. That's how typically God speaks to us. It came through providence. "Then the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no one.

" And there's obviously more than one man with him. You'll also hear this referred to in acts 22:9 and acts 26:13. "And Saul arose from the ground and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him to damascus." Now why is Paul blind? Well, you could say he's blind partly because of the brilliance of the light, that the vision was so bright. You know if you stare at the sun, it can damage your eyes where you can actually go blind.

That's a fact. Paul claimed to be a religious leader, leading people away from Christianity. What did Jesus say about the blind leading the blind? They'll both fall in the ditch. Was God maybe trying to tell Paul something? "You think you're educated. You think you know the truth.

Here you're persecuting these uneducated fisherman who believe in me. Maybe they know more than you do. Maybe they see and you're blind." You know when Saul becomes Paul, Paul is out preaching with barnabas. His name was called Saul up to this point. And there was a sorcerer named bar-Jesus--and it's very interesting--who's trying to lead the proconsul, sergius Paulus, away from believing the preaching of Saul and barnabas.

And up to this point it's called barnabas and Saul: "barnabas and Saul went here," "barnabas and Saul went there." They finally get to where they're preaching to. This man whose name was sergius Paulus and a sorcerer named bar-Jesus is trying to lead him away. "Don't believe what these missionaries are telling you." And you know what? All of a sudden Paul speaks up. Up 'til that point, barnabas was the preacher. Paul was the apprentice.

This is the first time now Paul preaches. Paul says, "oh you son of the devil." He says this to the sorcerer. And he puts a curse on him. And he says, "you're going to be blind. And you'll be led by the hand, because you're turning people away from God.

And all the sudden he went blind. He said, "you'll be blind for a season. In the same way Paul was blind for a season, 'cause he was a false teacher. Now Paul, what's the first curse he pronounces on someone? Blindness. From that experience on-- in acts, I think it's 13, it's now Paul and barnabas.

Before it was Saul and--I'm sorry, before it was barnabas and Saul. Now the missionary team is called Paul and barnabas. Something happened. Paul became the primary spokesman and his name changed. Some have wondered; sergius Paulus was converted.

The word Paul means "diminutive or small." Some people have assumed that meant that Paul was small. He may have been, like me. I'm not small; I'm concentrated. Some thought and say that Paul was short. And one reason they also say that is Paul says, "I'm mighty in my letters, but I'm small in my presence.

" Or he says, "I'm not much. I'm humble in my presence, mighty in my speech." It could be that, you know, he adopted the name of sergius Paulus, who had the name Paul. It's interesting the name Paul means diminutive, because he was very humble after his conversion. Whenever he talked about his accomplishments, he says, "I'm gonna speak like a fool right now." So just giving you a little more background on Paul, because he's one of the great missionaries. And it says, "when he arose from the ground, they brought him to the city.

" Verse 9, "he was 3 days without sight. He neither ate nor drank." Now it's one thing to fast for days. Most of us can survive a 3-day fast, but when you go 3 days without water--only other couple of times in the Bible when they fasted without food or water, Jonah, he preached in nineveh, they pronounced the fast: no food or water. When Esther sent the message to the Jewish nation, she said, "I'm getting ready to go for the King. This is life and death.

Do not eat or drink." But all the other fasts were just food. Even Jesus when he fasted days, he drank water. So this is a severe fast. Why? Because he is totally humbling himself. He's seeking after God.

He's repenting of his sins. He can see the blood of the martyrs of Christianity are on his hands. The blood of Jesus, he feels the culpability for that. And this is what brought about his conversion. If you want to be a missionary for Jesus, the more thoroughly you are converted and emptied of self, the better God can use you.

The more thoroughly you fall upon the rock and are broken, the more thoroughly God can recreate you. Now if humpty dumpty falls, all the King's horses and all the King's men might not be able to put him back together again. But if you are broken on the rock, God puts you back together as a new creature. And then he can use you. Was Peter broken-hearted when he saw that he had denied Christ? After Peter's conversion, was he a new man? Could God then use him? What about John? When Jesus knelt and washed John's feet it broke his heart, the apostle John.

Did he then become bold for Christ? The greatest missionaries that God has are the ones who are thoroughly converted. How thoroughly was Jonah converted when he prayed from the belly and God gave him another chance? Was he willing to go and to risk his life and preach in an enemy country? Have you had a thorough conversion? I don't know if you've seen the Lord on the road to damascus, but how do you have that? What brought about the conversion of the thief on the cross? He saw Jesus crucified. What brought about the conversion, and we'll get to this later in another lesson, of Isaiah? He saw Jesus high and lifted up. What brought about the conversion of zaccheus? What did he climb a tree for? Why did he climb a tree? He wanted to see Jesus. Did he see him? Was he converted? Would you like a thorough conversion? You need to see the Lord.

You need to see him high and lifted up like Isaiah. You need to see him in the year that your king died like Isaiah. You need to see him like the thief on the cross, crucified on your cross, like that thief. That's what brings about a conversion. So where are you gonna see him like that? I'd be happy to pray for you that God's gonna part the heavens and give you a vision, but it generally doesn't happen that way.

Is it possible for us to still see the Lord? How are we ever gonna be a zealous missionary like Paul and love the Lord like he did? We love him because he first loved us, so you must see his love for you. What brings about a repentance? The goodness of God brings us to repentance. You must see his goodness. Where are you gonna see all this so you can have a thorough conversion? It's in the Bible. As you read the Word of God and you see the goodness of God and you see the love of God and you see the sacrifice of Christ and you come to church and you hear others talk about the goodness of God and the sacrifice of Christ and Christ is lifted up, when you see Jesus, it'll break your heart.

That's why you need to search for him with all of your heart. And when you're thoroughly converted, then you become a good missionary. Paul became one of the greatest spokesman for Christ in the new testament because he experienced a radical conversion. Now we haven't gotten through all of this. Of course later ananias comes for him.

He prays. He lays hands on him. The scales fall from his eyes. He is baptized. Oh, isn't it interesting? Oh! I'm running out of time, but listen to this.

Naaman doesn't want to get baptized in the rivers of Jordan, because he thinks that they're muddy, but it's the river of Jordan that the syrian is baptized in. Paul gets baptized in damascus in the river of naaman. Isn't that interesting? So it tells us it doesn't matter what the river is, they both obeyed what God told them to do. I thought that--that came to me for the first time as I was studying this week. A lot more in this story dealing with the conversion of Paul.

Later Paul is called an apostle, right? And I gave out several verses on that. Corinthians 1:1," Paul an apostle," Galatians 1:1, "Paul an apostle," Ephesians 1:1 "Paul an apostle." So he is then called by Jesus from this dramatic conversion to be an apostle, from being an enemy to an apostle. That's a great missionary. Amen? Thank you for studying with us. And don't forget you can request the free offer.

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