The Conversion of Paul

Scripture: Acts 9:15, Acts 26:9-11, Deuteronomy 21:23
Date: 08/04/2018 
Lesson: 5
"In what ways does Saul’s conversion illustrate the operation of God’s wonderful grace? What can you learn from his story concerning those in your life whom you doubt will ever come to true faith?"
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Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers, call into Bible answers live, a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area or to listen to answers online, visit Good morning, friends, and welcome once again to Sabbath School Study Hour, coming to you from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California.

I'd like to welcome our online members and also our friends who are joining us across the country and around the world, and also the members and the visitors right here in Granite Bay, always good to see you Sabbath after Sabbath, studying the word together. Well, our lesson quarterly is on the book of acts, and we're on lesson number five that's entitled "the conversion of Paul". So we'll be beginning today here in just a few moments. For those who are joining us online or if you're watching this program later on, our free gift today is a book entitled "riches of his grace". And if you'd like to receive a free copy of this book, call 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer number 152.

If you'd like a digital copy of the book instead of getting it in the mail, just downloading it from the internet, all you have to do is text the code "sh056" to the number 40544, you'll receive a link and you'll be able to download the book riches of his grace. I think you'll really enjoy reading that book and learning more about God's grace and how he saves individuals. Well, before we get to our lesson, we always like to begin by lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward. It's that time where we get to sing with you, and we're so excited.

We know that you love to sing and we do, too. So we're going to sing a song that goes along with our lesson today, "open my eyes, that I may see". You're going to find this 326 in your hymnal. So if you have one at home, pull it out and join with us, we're going to sing all three stances, 326. I hope that today, right now, in this week that will be your prayer, Lord, open up my eyes, that I may see.

What is it that he wants in your life and in mine? Let's just be open and willing for whatever that is. At this time, Pastor Ross will have our opening prayer. Dear Father, once again we are grateful for the opportunity to gather together and open up Your Word. We're going to be looking at just a fantastic, inspiring story how you called Paul... First Saul, and then he became Paul, and great apostle, one who took the Gospel to lands far away.

Lord, we pray that we might have that same commitment to you, that same conversion experience, not just once but on a regular basis as we enter into your presence, in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug. We're continuing through the book of acts, and today we're dealing with lesson number five. And some of you, who are watching this live, let me explain it, I do this from time to time. We study the lesson about three weeks in advance of the rest of the world church, and the reason for that is that it is then broadcast 'cause we're recording it in front of our live audience on Sabbath morning, and we broadcast it live on satellite on a number of different networks.

And in order to edit the programs, and put in the closed captioning, and send the tapes out to the different satellites or different stations, we need to do it a little in advance, so we're in the future. So some people who are studying online, they go, "I thought we were on lesson two, what are they doing on lesson five?" Well, that's why when you watch it live, we're actually living in the future. So we're on lesson five, and this is a great study, whatever time it is. It's dealing with the conversion of the apostle Paul, and it's going to be... Mostly, we'll spend our time in acts 9, but we have a memory verse, and the memory verse is from acts 9:15.

Acts 9:15, if you have your Bibles and you want to say it with me, that'd be great. You ready? Acts 9:15, "go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their Kings and to the people of Israel." God said that Paul had been chosen in a special way as a unique instrument. Now the incredible thing about Paul is you have a story of somebody who starts out... And this, of course, is in your first section, where it talks about persecutor of the church. He goes from a persecutor of the church to a believer and a missionary, starts out as a missionary for the devil and he ends up becoming a missionary for the Lord.

Paul's conversion is a very dramatic conversion, where the Lord personally intervened to capture his attention. Now while most of us do not go through an experience exactly like Paul's, there's a lot of things we can learn about conversion from Paul's experience. I'll give you a little quiz. Can you think of another old testament character that starts out as a persecutor and turns to a believer? What did I hear? Isaiah? Isaiah? No, I don't know that he was ever a persecutor of the church. He was one of the Kings.

Nebuchadnezzar, actually I hadn't thought of him, but yeah, Nebuchadnezzar. Manasseh, I heard somebody say it. Let me read something to you, just so you know that it's not the only time it happens. If you look in... Well, I'll start out in 2 Chronicles.

If you go to 2 Chronicles 33, "manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years…" longest reigning king in judah. "He reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem, but he did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all the abominations of the nation who the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which hezekiah, his father, had broken down and he raised up the altars for the baals and he made wooden images and he worshiped all the stars of heaven and he served them. He built altars in the house of the Lord, where God had said, in Jerusalem shall be my name forever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven…" all the different Gods of the zodiac.

"And in the two courts of the house of the Lord, also, he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the valley of The Son of hinnom." Some of his sons were sacrificed to pagan Gods. "He practiced soothsaying, and witchcraft, and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists." He was like a warlock, I mean, this was a wicked spiritualistic king who just all out said, "I think I'm going to worship the devil." Now not only did he do this, I want you to just notice here, it says in... You know, you read about manasseh in Kings and Chronicles, you get two different accounts. One thing it says in Kings that does not say in Chronicles, "moreover, manasseh..." And this, by the way, is in 2 Kings 21:16. "Moreover, manasseh shed a very much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other, besides the other sins he made judah sin.

" So he persecuted the prophets. Josephus tells us that manasseh... Josephus is a Jewish historian, it's not in the Bible but it's in Jewish history. Manasseh was the one who killed Isaiah the prophet. And the tradition is that he placed Isaiah in a hollow log and had him sawn asunder, which you read about.

.. You do read that in Hebrews 11. Now go back to 2 Chronicles 33, it says, "and the Lord spoke..." And this is verse 10, 2 Chronicles 33:10, "and the Lord spoke to manasseh, and to his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the Lord brought upon him the captains of the army of the King of assyria who conquered them, he took manasseh with hooks…" that means he put a ring in his nose like you do when you carry around a bull. "With bronze fetters and carried him off to Babylon.

" Notice, "now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord jehovah, his God, in a humble..." He went back to the God of hezekiah, his father. "And humbled himself greatly before God of his fathers, and he prayed to him. And he, God, received his entreaty." Now if there's a king you're not going to forgive, who would it be? I mean, you know, makes your children pass through the fire, wicked king, kills the prophets. "As he humbled himself, God forgave him, and brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

" And after this, it says, he got rid of the false Gods and began to offer sacrifice to the Lord, and he went from being a persecutor to a believer. So can the Lord change even people that look hopeless? Yeah, and that's what the story of Saul is. So turn with me in your Bible to the book of acts 9, and we're going to be looking at a number of important points, I think you're going to see in the lesson here. I'm not sure whether or not our studio may be putting up a couple of questions that are coming on this subject online. Right, so first, he's a persecutor of the church.

Now he says this by his own admission, you read in 1 Corinthians 1:23, it says, "but we preach Christ crucified, to the jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness." So the belief in Christ, it was a stumbling block for the jews and Paul was exhibit a of that. How could the Messiah die on a cross? They thought he would be sitting on the throne of David. And you read in acts 8... Now you remember what happened in acts 7? Who is executed? Stephen, he is tried and executed. And who is a witness and leads out in his execution? Saul.

I know, it gets confusing 'cause he starts out being called Saul, he's later called Paul, and Simon is later called Peter, and you've got a few examples in the Bible where people had a couple of different names. And you read in acts 8:3, "as for Saul, he made havoc of the church." Now he is not persecuting, he is on a rampage. He's like a pit bull locked in a car on a hot day that's tearing the seats apart. I mean, Paul was on a rampage going through the church, "entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." Now you can read Paul's own testimony about what he did. When he's sharing, he gives a little more detail.

Acts 22:3, he said, "I am indeed a jew, born in tarsus of cilicia, but I was brought up in this city at the feet of gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous towards God as you all are today." So what do we know about his background? He grows up, he says he was a jew of the jews. He was like Hebrew of the Hebrews. He was exhibit a of a pharisee. You read in the book, Acts of the Apostles, he actually was promoted to the sanhedrin. He was probably one of the youngest members of the sanhedrin.

You know, they were basically the Jewish supreme court. That's the group that had condemned stephen in the previous chapter. Look in Galatians 1:14, again Paul is saying, "and I advanced in judaism beyond many of my contemporaries and in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." So he says, "look, you can't really tell me that I don't know what it means to be a jew and reach a jew." Said, "I was a jew of the jews." He said, "I was just as entrenched in anti-Christian judaism as anybody could be." And then you go to acts 22, he's showing his testimony. I think Paul shares his testimony of his conversion three times in the Bible, and he alludes to it in several of his books. What's the one sermon everybody ought to know how to preach? What did Jesus do for you? Right? Your testimony.

You might say, "I'm not very good at giving Bible studies, and I can't preach a sermon or I'm afraid to teach a class." One thing we teach people when they come to our afcoe training is, "do you have a testimony?" They say, "oh, well, you know, pastor, I didn't live in a cave or used drugs or..." You have a testimony. If you're a Christian, you have a testimony. Your testimony is, "I was lost and now I am found. I was dead and now I am live." Right? Something happened in your life, even if it's as simple as saying, "I made a decision one day that I don't want to be lost, and I gave Jesus my heart." Everybody has got a testimony. Tell people that, someone will always be able to relate to your testimony.

So you read in acts 22, he says in verse 4, "I persecuted this way…" I remember there being a translation… it wasn't a translation, a paraphrase Bible called "the way". Any of you remember that version? And they get that from this phrase. Christianity was sometimes called the way. "I persecuted this way to the death." Now not only did he cast men and women in prison, but what else, by his own testimony, what else did he do? He persecuted them to death, and not just stephen. Again, I was reading this morning in Acts of the Apostles, and there were others where he, not only had them condemned to prison but somewhere executed.

So this where it's serious as it gets, and he had innocent blood on his hands. "I persecuted this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, also the high priest will bear me witness." Now he says this before the high priest. "And all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters." Now how did he get the letters to go to damascus to arrest Christians? Go to acts 9, "then Saul, breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…" well, what does that mean? Breathing threats and murders? He was just constantly mumbling under his breath, and if anybody said anything to him, he was just filled with hatred. Why was Paul so rabidly against Christians? What do you think? When a person's under conviction of the truth, one of two things happens. They either surrender to the conviction or they become more entrenched and fight it.

Have you ever seen that? Who will be the greatest adversaries of our church in the last days? Those who ones walked with us that went out. Because of the conviction, they will become the fiercest adversaries. So Paul is under conviction, and so he's fighting this conviction in his conscience by being even more zealous. And it says, "breathing threats and murder…" there, again, you got not just prison but killing. "Against the disciples of the Lord, he went to the high priest and he asked letters.

" So did the high priest say, "who can we get to deliver the letters?" So Paul say, "give me documents so I have permission to go to foreign cities." And because there was a covenant between rome, and Jerusalem, and damascus, he could be authorized. And the judaism was still in good standing with rome back then, he could get authorization to arrest people who were "part of this cult". And so he needed to get permission. "He asked letters to go to the synagogues of damascus." Go where? Now why would you go look for Christians in a synagogue? What day of the week did the jews meet? Sabbath, and where did they meet? Synagogues. What day of the week did the Christians meet? Sabbath.

Nothing says they had it smothered... You know, went from house to house and studied the Word of God, but they still kept the Sabbath, and they still gathered with the jews. And so when Paul wanted to arrested Christians, he went to them the very same place and same day that the jews worshiped. Now some will argue, well, the only reason he went to the synagogues is that's where the Christians were trying to reach the jews, and there's some truth to that. When Paul went to a new city, where did he go first? Synagogues, but I submit, Christians were keeping the same day.

Does that make sense? Okay, let's keep going here. And it says, as… all right, "so he's going to the synagogues of damascus. So that if he found any that were of this way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." He can arrest and bring them back to Jerusalem. "And as he journeyed, he came near damascus…" and they came over the hill, perhaps he's on a horse, he's got some other with him, maybe he's got a couple of deputies that have come with him or couple of other people from the church that have come and, but there is definitely yet at least two, there may have been, you know, four or more people traveling with him. And they're looking at the beautiful valley where damascus is, and there's a river nearby, and it looked very different probably then than it does today.

"And he sees a light suddenly…" you notice some things happen suddenly? When Elijah and Elisha were walking together, it says, suddenly, a chariot came out of the sky while they were just walking and talking together. How is the Lord coming? It's going to be suddenly. How was the Holy Spirit poured out? They were praying together in upper room, and suddenly... So everything looked fine, and all of a sudden, everything changed. "Suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

And he fell to the ground, and he heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'" And later he says, this was in the Hebrew language. Now, why did he say "Saul, Saul?" Why twice? Can you think of anyone else in the Bible God calls their name twice? I heard someone say. There's several men in the Bible God calls them twice. "Abraham, Abraham," "Samuel, Samuel." Can you ever find a place in the Bible where God calls a women twice? Someone arguing, "that's because they hear the first time." But in Hebrew, you know, there's different ways of creating emphasis. In Hebrew, the way they created emphasis was by saying something twice.

How many times did Jesus say verily, verily, meaning truly, truly? You and I put exclamation Marks after our words or we might raise our voice, but for the Hebrews, they would do... They underlined things by repeating it. And so when he says, "Saul, Saul," he's saying I have a message for you. This is very important. "Do I have your attention now? Why are you persecuting me? He said, 'who are you, Lord?'" Now this is going to go along with our sermon later this morning where we're talking about how you know you're Christian because there are a lot of people that think that they're saved and they're not.

Isn't that right? Did Paul think that he was serving the Lord? Does Jesus say, I think it's John 16, the hour is coming in which those who kill you will think they are offering service to God. Here's exhibit a, Paul thinks he's serving... Doesn't he think he's serving God? Who is he really serving? Was Paul a church member? Were the jews his people? You mean, there can be someone who is a member of the church that's serving the devil, and they think they're serving God, but that only happened back then, that could never happen today. He says rhetorically. Could that happen today? Did he think he knew the Lord? He thought, "yeah, I'm on a mission for God.

" And all of a sudden, he meets God along the way. He says, "you're not helping me, you're hurting me. You're not working for me, you're working against me." Talk about a convicting moment to have the God of creation call you by name, and say, "why are you persecuting me?" Now Paul was thinking or Saul, he's thinking, "I would never persecute you." But what does Jesus say? "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, you've done it" what? "Unto me." And so when someone persecutes one of Jesus' followers, who is he persecuting? He's persecuting Jesus at the same time. "Why are you persecuting me?" Now, when a person goes through a panic like this, how much is going through their head? They say that, you know, if you face death, your whole life flashes before you. And all of a sudden, the Lord was able, I think, to bring an awareness to Saul that he had been on the wrong side.

Now one reason this happened, and I think one reason God did something extra for Saul. Saul was sincere. How many would agree with Saul was sincere? Is sincerity all that matters? No, but does it matter? I think God looks on the heart. Paul, when he saw stephen die, and he saw the peace, and he saw the dignity, and he saw his face shining like an angel there in the assembly, and he heard his sermon, his heart burned, within, he was stirred, and he had a lot of doubts. Let me read something to you from the book, Acts of the Apostles that talks about this.

"Saul had taken a prominent part in the trial and conviction of stephen, and the striking evidences of God's presence with the martyr had led Saul to doubt the righteousness of the cause that he had espoused against the followers of Jesus." He was having doubts. "His mind was deeply stirred. In his perplexity he appealed to those in whom he thought wisdom and justice he had full confidence," like the high priest. "The arguments of the priests and the rulers finally convinced him that stephen was just a blasphemer, and the Christ whom the martyred disciple had preached was an impostor, and those ministering in holy office must be right." He thought, "well, you know, they are the pastors, they must know. How could they be wrong? And so that's the mistake that happens from time to time.

All right, so he admits that he was a persecutor of the church. Now someone's going to read for me 1 Timothy 1:13, you'll have that? All right, just before you do that, I'm going to read acts 26:1. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests. And when they were put to death…" does he say when he was put to death or when they were put to death? "When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

And I punished them often in every synagogue and I compelled them to blaspheme." Now what does that mean? He would sometimes force them to deny Christ. He became like a jesuit inquisitor against Christians. He said, he persecuted them. All right, go ahead and read first few verse. "Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

" Now have you ever heard that song before? Chief of sinners though I be I can do low in the morning. Where do you get the phrase chief of sinners? Paul referred to himself as a chief of sinners, didn't he? Why? Because he was killing Christians, he says i… it says bad as it get. "I got Christians to blaspheme and deny Christ, I put them in prison, men and women. I hunted them down, I put them to death." And then God took somebody like that and forgave them and turned them around. Now, it wasn't without a struggle.

Matter of fact... Well, I'm getting ahead of myself here. God told him that was going to happen. Let me read one more thing, Philippians 3:6, "concerning zeal…" it says, "if you want to know about my zeal, persecuting the church, concerning the righteousness of the law, blameless." According to the law, I was blameless. He says, "I was living to the letter of the law.

" All right, now on the damascus road, says, he was going down, and he has this... He sees the light. Have you ever heard the expression, "he saw the light." Have you ever heard the expression, "he had a damascus road experience." Of course, that all comes from this. Now, does everybody in their conversion have a damascus road experience? No. Is that the norm or the exception? Was Paul looking for Jesus? He didn't know he was.

It is hard, maybe he was trying to justify it. "Search for me and you'll find me." But, you know, God actually intervenes in some people's lives to save them. Matter of fact, Paul was on his way to damascus to hunt Christians, and Jesus stops him like a blockade. I see many times in the Bible where God interrupts a person to try to save them. He gets in their way.

Have you ever had the Lord get in your way? You're trying to do something wrong and he tries to get in your way through circumstances, all of a sudden, grandma calls on the phone says, "I feel impressed to pray for you or something." You know, God just gets in your way. How many of you remember the story of naaman and the leper? And he got mad when Elisha would not come out and see him but he sent his servant, said, "go wash in the Jordan river." So he storms off to go home. He's going back to damascus. And on his way back to damascus, he has to ride by the Jordan river, and the Lord was getting in his way. He kept hearing, "wash in the Jordan, wash in the Jordan, wash in the Jordan.

" Finally, his servants could see that he had slowed down a little bit. They said, "why don't you do it? You've tried everything else." His servants got in the way. God does things to try to keep us from destroying ourselves. The cross stands in our path as an obstacle to our self-destruction. Jesus is always trying to keep us from our self-destruction.

And so the Lord did something special here for Paul and got in his way. Now there is a problem. And a lot of people have noticed. If you look here in his testimony, he says, "the Lord said, 'I am Jesus who you are persecuting."' Now, can you imagine the shudder that went through Paul when Jesus said, "I am Jesus." It's like where jehovah says, "I am that I am." And Jesus said, "before Abraham was, I am." And they took up stones to stone Christ. So whenever Jesus says, "I am," that's a pretty prominent statement.

"I am Jesus who you are persecuting. Is it hard for you to kick against the pricks," where it says in the King James, if you've got the new king James, it says, "kick against the goads." Growing up in New York city, I didn't know what either of those things meant. But when you used to move oxen along, we didn't do that in New York. When you move oxen along, you have a prong, you might have a sharp stick, you might have a couple little prongs on the end of it and now they've got these cow prods, it's a pole that's full of the batteries and you press a button, and you'll get two little probes on the end of it and that cow will jump pretty high when you, you touch on to them, and you press the button, it just, it does something where it amplifies the voltage and it gives it like a 200 volt shock and that means move. And so when you're trying to get the oxen to pole or to plow and they weren't moving very fast, you had this sharp stick, and they used to just poke their flanks a little bit.

And then that sometimes they kick it and they cut themselves on the goad kicking against it. And so this is in America, if Jesus had appeared to Paul and he was on his way to Sacramento, he might have said, "is it hard for you to hit your head against the wall?" We all understand that, right? What he was doing, he's saying, "you're just fighting the guidance of the Lord." The person was trying to guide and direct the ox with the little goad and he's kicking against it and he's hurting himself. And so Jesus uses this illustration. So he trembling and astonished said, "Lord," immediately, he calls him Lord, he's not going to argue with him, is he? "What do you want me to do?" That's one of the signs of conversion. What's one of the first thing that happens when you have an encounter with Jesus? "What should I do? What is your will? Where do I go from here?" So I've heard preachers say before that when you're converted and you come to Christ, there's nothing you can do.

The first thing you want to know is what do I do. Of course, there's something you can do. Even if it's believed, that's doing something, right? People say, "there's nothing you can do but believe." Well, that's something. And so immediately the response when you have an encounter with Jesus, you realize you've been doing your own will, you've been going against God's will. You want to know, Lord, what is your will? What do you want me to do? And shouldn't that be the desire of every Christian? Find out best what pleases the Lord, discover what his will is.

Isn't that why we study the word? Yes. Not everyone that says, "Lord, Lord, but they that do the will of my father." And so Paul was saying, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And the Lord said, "I'm not going to tell you everything. I'll tell you the next step." Isn't that interesting? He said, "I'm going to use a human. I've made a special appearance here, but I'm not going to continue to give you a verbal guidance. I'm going to do that through people because that's my designed normal method.

" He said, "you go to damascus and someone will tell you what to do." So he trembling in a style and she says that, "arise and go to the city. You had a mission in damascus, it's just going to change a little bit. You're going to do mission work for the devil, now you're going to do mission work for me." "And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless hearing a voice but seeing no one." Now that's a little problem because look in acts 22. "And those who are with me…" Paul is telling the story, he says, "those who are with me, indeed, saw the light and were afraid but they did not hear the voice." Now wait a second, we just read in acts 9 where it says, "they heard a voice but they didn't see anybody." Here it says, "they saw a light, they didn't hear anything." How many of you have seen this before? Is there an answer? I think so. First of all what he's saying is in acts 22, to hear something doesn't mean just to hear it audibly, it means to understand it.

Let me illustrate that. Use the Bible to interpret the Bible. Go to John 12:28, Jesus says, "father, glorify your name." Jesus says, 'father, glorify your name.' Then a voice came from heaven saying, 'I have both glorified it and I will glorify it again.'" So he hears this voice from heaven. "And therefore the people who stood by and heard it, they said that it had thundered, others said an angel had spoken to him." Could they tell what was said that day? Some heard it. That's why John wrote it down, others heard thunder, someone said it was an angel.

They didn't really understand it. And that depend upon the person. So the men who were with him, first of all, there's more than one man, one might say, "I heard something, but I didn't understand it." Another one might say, "I heard a light, but I don't know what it was, things got brighter." And so he's just saying, they were sort of clueless about what was going on. So, I know, it sounds like a contradiction but really they're saying the same thing. Now they did hear something, but they couldn't understand it.

They did see a light, but they didn't see anyone. That's all he's saying. Paul wouldn't, of course, not contradict himself. So you can read his testimony in acts 26:14. "When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' He said, 'who are you, Lord?'" Now the answer Jesus gives in acts 26 is more than you find in acts 9.

So when Luke records the conversion of Paul, he doesn't record everything Jesus said to Paul you read Paul's own testimony, he expands on it. That's not unusual. Sometimes a person gives the condensed version of the story. Listen to what Jesus said to Paul in the acts 26:14 version. Actually starts in verse 15, "I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.

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 that you have seen and the things that I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the gentiles to who I am now sending you to open their eyes in order…" and this is one of the greatest verses in the Bible. "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." Amen. That is a great verse. The whole message of salvation is encompassed in that verse.

Do you hear it? What does God want to do? "Open our eyes, turn us from darkness to light, from the power of satan, where you're just a captive to your sins, to get the power of God, the Holy Spirit, that you might be forgiven of your sins and you might have an inheritance, you can look forward to being in the Kingdom among those who are sanctified," how? "By faith in Christ." Isn't that a great verse? You see, he told Paul, "what I want you to do and I'm going to tell you the message." Everything Paul ever did was summarized in this message. And by the way, part of his preaching was that... You remember when elymas the sorcerer, he was turning away sergius Paulus and Paul said, "you're going to be blind now." He struck him with blindness because of that. You get the battle between light and darkness. And then what happened to Paul's vision after he saw the Lord? He had some kind of cataracts or something that took place.

So let me keep reading. Go back to acts 9, and someone's going to read for me 1 Corinthians 9:1 in just a moment. You got that. Okay. So if you go back to acts 9, so trembling and astonished, then you see here, go to verse 8, "Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one.

" All he could see... Ever see a bright light and the only thing you see is that light is left. "But they led him by the hand, he's suddenly blind." Does Jesus talk about the blind leading the blind? Paul starts out on his way to damascus, he thinks I've got great spiritual light, I'm a pharisee of the pharisees, here let me lead you guys to damascus and I'll show you what to do. And after he sees Jesus, he realizes he's blind, they're leading him now. Interesting.

And so they let him by the hand, they brought him into damascus, and he was three days without sight. He neither ate nor drank. And so, he was going through a real struggle there. Now some... Paul in his letters, he later refers to himself as an apostle.

What was the criteria of being an apostle? Do we have apostles today? Well, and Bible says, "he's appointed these in the church, apostles, prophets." But have you ever had anyone in our church introduce themselves to you and say, "hi, I'm apostle Batchelor?" No, because there were people who were leaders in the church, and they kind of held these offices of leadership. But the ones who are apostles were specifically people who had actually seen Jesus. So Paul sometimes had a dispute with some of the church, they said, "you're not really an apostle." He said, "oh, yes, I am." Why? Go ahead and read that for us. "Am I am not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?" So Paul is telling the readers, he's saying, "look, I have every much right to be an apostle as the others." He said, "Jesus met me personally. He spoke to me.

He called me just like he called Peter and the others, except he did it from heaven." But on many occasions, the Lord appeared to Paul. Matter of fact, Paul was caught up to the third heaven. He refers to it as another man, but most believe it was actually him. And another time the Lord appeared to Jesus, he said, "I have many people in the city." And so he had a pretty good relationship. He was a prophet.

And the Lord appeared to him on several occasions. And so he was definitely an apostle. Did the apostles prematurely pick a replacement for Judas? That's a good question. You remember, when in acts 1, when they pick someone to replace Judas, did they prematurely pick a replacement for Judas when God's plan was for Paul to be the 12th apostle. Well, you never hear from matthias again.

They pick between two men, matthias was chosen. You never hear his name mentioned again in the Bible. But little later, you do see Paul becomes extremely prominent writing, you know, like, almost a third of the new testament after that. And some have wondered, maybe they were jumping the gun, but I think they were meant to do what they did because immediately after you have the 12th missing apostle replaced, and they've got the number 12 again. The Holy Spirit is poured out.

It's the next thing that happens. It's like there was something needed to be complete and that number 12 was important. There were 120 in the upper room, which is 10 times that or, you know, it's 12. And so there's some special significance there. I think that the 144,000 are connected with 12 times 12 in the last days when the latter rain is poured out.

So I would not dismiss it. I don't think the church leaders should always cast lots when we have board meetings and make decisions. Would you agree with that? But they were the whole... They were the apostles, they had spent 10 days in praying. We believe that they were following God's guidance there.

And so that's a good question. Someone is asking, "is it true that the teachings of Paul are contrary to the teachings of Jesus?" Now you might be surprised by the question, but there are actually theologians that say that. They say, "well, Paul says one thing and Jesus says another." For example... No, I don't believe. I believe that Paul.

.. His teachings are consistent with Jesus. But I'm telling you why some people believe that. Do the apostles say, "abstain from idols. Don't eat those things which are sacrificed to idols?" And then Paul says, "the idol is nothing.

If it's going to make your brother stumble, don't do it. But otherwise it doesn't matter. Pray over it and God will bless your food." And so some people say, "well, he's teaching something different." No, he's teaching the same thing. He's explaining the reason the apostle said not to do it is it makes people stumble. If you're with someone that's going to stumble and then, you know, there are some other areas where, even Peter.

Peter said, "as our beloved brother…" this is 2 Peter 3. He says, "even as our beloved brother Paul has written to you, in all his epistles, saying in them some things that are hard to understand, which those who are unlearnt, and unstable rest, twist as they do the other Scriptures to their own destruction." Peter refers to Paul's writing as Scripture. And so... But he said there are some things that are difficult in Paul's writing. Now why were some things that Paul wrote difficult? Because he was the most educated of the disciples.

And the theologians get deeper. And so, now, he's got some of the richest things, but no, it's all in harmony with the Bible. Okay, we're going to get back to the lesson here. And... Oh, man, look at a clock, I better hurry up.

So let's go right to the Bible, want us to read this. Says, "he was three days without sight. He neither ate nor drank." That's what you call a severe fast, no food or water, he is in great repentance. He's not only been fighting the Lord, he now sees he's got innocent blood on his hands. Now, he thinks he's gone too far, maybe he remembers the story of manasseh, who was forgiven.

"Now there was a certain disciple at damascus named ananias…" unlike ananias and sapphira, this is a good guy. "And to him the Lord says in a vision, 'ananias.'" He's just a disciple, God gives him a vision. "Here I am, Lord." Like Samuel. "So the Lord says to him, 'arise and go to the street called straight.'" Where do conversions happen? On straight street. "And inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of tarsus, for behold…" now, isn't this interesting? You got an ananias, who at one point was bad, but there's a good one here.

And you've got a Judas, who at one point in the Bible was bad, but he's good here. And then you got a Saul, who commits suicide in the old testament, but this Saul becomes good. So it's like telling us about conversions can happen among bad people, just the names that are all mentioned here. "He is praying." Does God see when we pray? He says, "behold, he's praying." God says, "I'm not answering him but I'm answering you that I see him praying." "And in a vision he is now seeing a man named ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." Now, ananias protests a little bit. "He says, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.

'" Paul had a reputation already. "And he is now here with authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. But the Lord said to him, 'go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before the gentiles, Kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake.'" Paul would do some of the greatest work of any Christian missionary in history, and he also suffered greatly. So when you think, I want to do great things for God, do you know what you're asking? How does God prepare his vessels? Puts them in the fire and bakes them.

And, I remember, I went to school, and I had a teacher that taught us how to make porcelain. We start out with clay, and then we glaze it, and then we put it in, and we bake it. So that's how God prepares his vessels. So ananias, he obeys. He goes to straight street and there's Saul blind.

He enter the house, he lays his hands on him. He says, "brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared you on the road, has sent me that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately... You notice that how many times they laid hands on people and they were filled with the Holy Spirit? The apostles went to samaria, we read, they laid hands on them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. This is one of the things that they did. Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales.

It's like these cataracts had blinded him that maybe from his vision of Christ had scorched his eyes. They fell off and he received his sight at once, and he rose, and he was baptized. Now many speculate his sight was never perfect from that point on because he often just mentions struggling with his vision. So when he received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at damascus, and immediately he preached Christ.

What's one of the first things you want to do after you're converted? You start telling other people. He preaches Christ in the synagogues that he is The Son of God, then all who heard him were amazed and said, "is this not he who destroyed those who call in the name of Jesus? And he's come here for that purpose that he might bring them bound to the chief priests." And Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the jews, who dwelt in damascus, proving that this Jesus was the Christ. Can the Holy Spirit teach you more in five minutes than all the higher institutions of learning can in five years? All of a sudden when the Spirit of the Lord came to him, those three days he was praying, all the Scriptures that he knew all started making sense. And he also studied beyond that. So he starts to preach.

Well, now they plot, here's the jews in damascus, his own church members tried to destroy him. So he has to escape. "After many days, they plotted to kill him." I'm in verse 23, "but their plot became known to Saul, and they watched the gates day and night to kill him." There's several occasions where they are sworn to kill Saul. But didn't God protect him over and over? He protected him. "And they led him down through the wall in a large basket.

" Does that remind us that God can save a basket case? "And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but the church is afraid of him." At this point, I mean, he had a bad reputation. But barnabas... You know barnabas' name means? Bar means son of, barnabas means son of consolation. He was a consoling person. He took him in, he brought him to the apostles, he said, "you can trust him.

He's really converted. He's not a spy, he's not infiltrating." And he declared to them how he'd seen the Lord on the road, and how he'd spoken to him, and then where he had preached boldly at damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out, now, he's freely mingling with the church, and he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the hEllenist like stephen had done, the very one that he killed for doing it, but they attempted to kill him also. And when the brethren found that out, they brought him to caesarea and sent him to tarsus." They said, "you better get out of town." They want to save his life. While here you've got a wonderful story of the dramatic conversion of Paul.

It was so radical that, at first, the church couldn't even believe it. And the first thing Paul did after he was converted, he starts to reach people right where he is. When you come to the Lord, are you supposed to then go off to a mission field or reach people right where you are. And that's what he did. Well, we have run out of time for today's lesson.

I want to remind you that we do have a free offer. It's called riches of his grace. It talks about conversion. And you can get free offer here by calling, that's one way, and ask for offer number 152. Call 866-788-3966.

We'll be happy to send that to you. That's 866-study-more, and again, ask for offer number 152. And the screen will even show you a way you can text and get your free copy of that book. If you've not read that before, you'll be blessed by it. Just text the code "sh056" and here's the number to 40544, and you can even download a copy right now.

Thank you for studying with us, friends. God willing, we'll study His Word together again next week. God bless you. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming. Visit the Amazing Facts media library at aftv.

org. At, you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right from your computer or mobile device. Visit For over 60 years, jeepneys have been the virtual king of the road here in the Philippines. These unique vehicles that are festive with colorful stickers, lights, and chrome have grown into the chief source of transportation in the country.

Let's go. These iconic four-wheel-drive military vehicles made by the willys company were known as jeeps because it stood for general purpose. But it also came from a character in a popeye cartoon that was known as eugene the jeep. He was an imaginary dog that could crawl across the ceilings and the walls, and these jeeps could go anywhere. When the Americans left the Philippines following world war ii, it was just cheaper for them to leave these thousands of military vehicles behind rather than to transport them back to the states.

The creative filipino people modified these military vehicles by extending the frame about six feet. They added a couple of cozy inventions that are designed to carry about 18 people. They put a cab over it to prevent the water from coming in, but I've seen what looks like 20 to 25 people hanging on every possible edge and ledge of a jeepney. They're jumping off, they're jumping on as it goes through congested manila traffic. Every jeepney is little bit different.

Some are just held together with patches of daily wire and bubblegum, a little bit of duck tape. Some are little more ornate and modern, they've got chrome and stainless steel. And there's good reason that the ceilings are padded. When one of the local filipinos wants to ride on a jeepney, they just flag them down, they shout, they tap on the hood, and then they jump on board. They may not even slowdown when they do this.

Then they pay about 8 pesos which is equivalent of 16 cents for us. It's by far the most economical way to get around in the country. Some jeepneys are even equipped with an old emergency privy. One little downside to the jeepneys is because the cabs are open like this, they're not air-conditioned, it gets very hot in summertime and all the fumes from the street coming in which can make it an exhausting experience. One of the downside of the jeepney is they don't have all of the modern safety features, no seatbelts.

You have to take advantage of the padding if you hit a hard bump. And if there is a serious accident, there is no airbags other than the friends that might be sitting around you. And that's the upside of the jeepney because you're up close and personal with everybody, you make some new friends. Riding on a jeepney requires teamwork. If you buy something from one of the vendors, you all sort of pass it back to each other.

And when passengers get on board, you just pass your money upfront. Thanks a lot. Friends, it's safe to say there are no two jeepneys that are exactly the same. They're all unique and distinct and so are you. Have you ever felt that you get lost in a massive humanity and God doesn't notice you? The Bible tells us that he knows your name, the very hairs of your head are numbered and he hears your prayers.

More than that, the Lord wants to take you to his kingdom, you just have to get on board. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word. Go deeper, visit

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