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Author Topic: Saul's Call (Acts 9)  (Read 1068 times)
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« on: October 23, 2010, 02:56:49 PM »

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From A Voice In The Wilderness

Saul's Call  (Acts 9)

"As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word." (8:3-4)

"Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder toward the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (9:1-2)

Paul? Who wrote most of the rest of the New Testament? This is how he started out. His violence against the Church was so great that later he would say...

"For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1Co15:9)

Does past sin in one's life preclude effective service for God?  How many in service to God must confess:  I slept with another man's wife. So did David. I denied the Lord. So did Peter. I murdered a man. So did Moses and David. I lied and put my wife in jeopardy to save my own skin. So did Abraham and Isaac. I doubted the Lord. So did Thomas and Zacharias.

Is murdering and persecuting the Church worse than sleeping with another man's wife? Paul considered himself "least" because of it.

In what state does God -call- to Saul? As a pious church-going saintly individual, who smiles at the songleader, and says "Amen!" a lot to the pastor's sermon topics? No. He is ON-HIS-WAY to persecute more Christians. He's got a whole swarm of bees in his pants, and is rushing to imprison more of those #$%@# Christians. If he was "compelling them to blaspheme" (26:11), don't you imagine he did much of his own.

So God knocks him to the ground...

"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? And he said, Who are You, Sir? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (vs4-5)

Now, I suspect Saul would likely have known about, or even seen Jesus prior to, and around the crucifixion. After all, he later says to Festus, "..this thing (crucifixion and resurrection) was not done in a corner" (26:26)  If he was taught by someone as eminent as Gamaliel (22:3), he would not have been in the dark about Jesus. But he was a gung-ho disciple of the pharisaical party-line that crucified Jesus.

But Jesus, who is supposedly -dead-, is now confronting him. And with Saul's reply we can see that Saul likely actually had a pure heart, only had been misdirected, brainwashed and deceived. He had done it...

"...ignorantly and in unbelief" (1Ti1:13)

And so as he is experiencing God's grace, his humbled heart asks...

"Lord, what do You have in mind for me to do?" (vs6)

Notice his choice of words. It's not "what -must- I do?" as the Philippian jailer. (16:30) Or as at Peter's preaching, "what -shall- we do?" (2:37) Saul is not being hog-tied and dragged into Salvation. He is a young intelligent and highly educated man. As God had invited Israel "let us -reason- together" (Is1:18 ), and as Paul would do later, "-reason- from the Scriptures" (17:2), Saul is understanding the futility of "kicking against the goads". He's been wound up tighter than a clock spring, going off half-cocked in his own ideas of how to deal with the 'problem' of the new Church. Now he meets the Lord face-to-face. OK, obviously I've been wrong, doing what -I- thought was right, fighting against You. (Obviously: You are who You said You were. You -did- rise from the dead.) Here I am... What do -You- want from me?

We don't hear Saul saying the -words- "I repent". He doesn't say, "I believe, I believe". The transformation has already taken place in his -heart-. He knows it, the Lord knows it, so now... What's next? As if to say: I'm saved... what now?  The expression "what do You have in mind" is the wording of somebody who has become 'familiar' with the person being asked... dare we say... 'friends'? (Jn15:15)  If you will... "prayer" at its core; what prayer is meant to be.  Perhaps why that old song used to say "preach like Peter, -PRAY- like Paul"?

Saul's development now goes in stages. Saul's -fame- is already great, as a -destroyer-. Ananias, being asked of God to go to Saul, who is "praying" (vs11) objects, "I have heard...how much evil he has done" (vs13) But the Lord says,

"Go, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel" (vs15)

So Ananias lays hands on Saul, he regains his sight and receives the Holy Spirit, and...

"...immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" (vs20)

and "increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (vs22)

What had been the accusation by the Jews against Jesus?

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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2010, 03:00:24 PM »

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From A Voice In The Wilderness

Saul's Call  (Acts 9)

"For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God. (Jn10:33)

"We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." (Jn19:7)

And so as Saul is saved, and starts debating with his former associates, the matter of Jesus' -DEITY- is the point he proclaims. They had crucified Jesus for it, but Saul has now met Jesus, and knows it is true, so he does not shy away from proclaiming it. With the same gusto he had come to Damascus to -kill- Christians, with the same gusto he is now 'confounding' the Jews with the truth. The word "confound" carries the idea of "confusion". What's the deal with this guy? First he's arresting Christians. Now he -is- one!?

But those who are in rebellion don't want facts. Like the old saying my dad used to quote: My mind is already made up, don't confuse me with the facts. Saul "proved" to them Jesus' Deity. And so they plot to get rid of him. (vs23)

The disciples let him down outside the wall in a basket and he escapes to Jerusalem. Tries to join up with the Believers. Hey, I'm one of you now!  YaRight!  And it takes Barnabas to 'introduce' Saul to the Believers as a Christian. (vs27)

So now he "disputed with the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him" (vs29)

Ah yes....we've come full circle. We first heard of the Hellenists arguing with Stephen, and they stirred things up, and Stephen was stoned. Saul had been there collecting the coats of those who stoned Stephen. So now, those who gave their coats to Saul, want to kill Saul, too. Saul just isn't being a nice peaceful quiet 'positive' person. He sees something wrong and wants to get in there and -convince- people of what is right. If we were to make this a series -about- "Paul", we would see this same tendency when other disputes arise, as he wants to go into an arena where people are shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" (ch19), but the other disciples have to restrain him. (19:30)

So here, in Jerusalem, Saul has stirred up controversy again and the other Believers lead him to Caesarea, which was a shipping port, and sent him off to his home town, Tarsus. (vs30)

Then at some future date Barnabas goes to Tarsus, gets Saul, and brings him to Antioch where the Church is now headquartered. (11:25-26) Saul was in the middle of where the 'action' was, where "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (11:26) When we, today, speak of Bible manuscripts from which translations are derived, we already noted that Alexandria is where the perversions originate. And Antioch was the center from where the correct texts originated.

When Paul speaks in Galatians ch1 of getting his doctrine directly from God, not the men who preceded him in Jerusalem, did that happen between Acts 9:30 and 11:26?  He had started out gung-ho, but immediately had attempts on his life, so goes away back 'home'. Is that where he has his "wilderness" time to learn from the Lord? Moses, thinking to redeem Israel on his own, killed an Egyptian, and spent 40 years on the run in the wilderness. Jesus, even though being God, spent 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for ministry.

But notice when Saul was sent -away- to Tarsus, it says...

"Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and were built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied" (vs31)

When Stephen was stoned, while it was certainly the Hellenists who stirred things up, Saul was present, and in the middle of things. Saul was the ring leader of the persecution that erupted. But even when he was saved, he was still stirring up things. Certainly, he was 'witnessing'...but his -style- was of a 'charging bull' nature that tended to rile people up, and want to see him dead. And what was going on with Saul, affected everybody around him. When he was gone, there was peace.

Was it Saul's -own- experience that contributed to his exhortation later to...

"Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure." (1Ti5:22)

This "Laying Hands" was the Jewish way of 'commissioning' or 'appointing' to service. In other words, was Paul recognizing that, even though fired up for the Lord, that those early days also had elements of "sin" due to immaturity?

"not a new convert, that he not be puffed up with pride and fall into the same condemnation as the devil." (1Ti3:6)

Paul later speaks of his "thorn in the flesh" by which the Lord kept him from "being made haughty" (2Co12:7)

He -knew- a lot, and like many who go on for advanced education degrees, they rely on their vast -knowledge- and -debating- skills, rather than the humility that comes with a right proper relationship with the Lord, through the Holy Spirit. Years ago at Bible school, choir tour one of the years went to Salt Lake City, and so the local missionary (to the Mormons) took us on a tour of all the significant Mormon sites. I still remember the terrible "unease" I felt when some of the fellow choir members, ones who were more 'scholars' than I was, took on the Mormon guides in -argumentation-. In my spirit it just did not FEEL RIGHT, what they were doing. Of course later, they were all "pumped up" (patting themselves on the back) about the fact that they had been "witnessing" to the Mormons, and the Mormons could not answer back to their 'arguments'.

Jesus said...

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Mt10:16)

Saul was in the midst of wolves, and so he started out barking and growling back. What happens when you yell at a barking dog to "SHUT UP!!!" ??  It only barks louder and more ferociously.

Thus we see the record: after Saul had been in Tarsus awhile, and wherever else he was in his wilderness training, and had learned to 'calm down' in the Lord, rather than "confounding" and "disputing", it says that he...

"-REASONED- with them [Jews in the synagogues on the Sabbaths] FROM THE SCRIPTURES" (17:2)

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