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Acts #16 A Crisis of Belief

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Acts Series #16

Back to the Beginning:

When Church Was Church

A Crisis Of Belief

Acts 9:1-19

In his Best Selling Bible Study and Book, "Experiencing God", Dr. Henry Blackaby taught that

1) God is Always at Work Around Us

2) God Pursues a Love Relationship with Us

3) God Invites Us to Join him in his Work

and that

5) God's invitation … leads you to a Crisis of Belief that requires Faith and Action

Heb 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him

Dr. Blackaby says that

1. An Encounter with God requires faith

2. Encounters with God are God-sized

3. What you do in response to God's invitation reveals what you believe about God

4. True faith requires action

Our journey through Acts of Full of people facing a Crisis of Belief but we see it today in the story of Paul's Conversion

Read Acts 9:1-19

I see three pictures of this crisis of belief in the word today

I see an Unbelievable Message

An Unreachable Man

An Unwilling Witness …

Let's look at these 3 first

1. An Unbelievable Message

The grace of God through Jesus Christ is an unbelievable message

It is Foolishness

1 Cor 1:18-28

?18? For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ?19? For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

?20? Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ?21? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. ?22? Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, ?23? but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, ?24? but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. ?25? For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

?26? Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. ?27? But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ?28? He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are,

When we hear the simplicity of the gospel, we want it to be harder than it is

We figure, as did Paul, that it must require MORE than simply to believe in and receive the gift of Grace through Christ

We want to embrace our own theology; whether it was the Law; the Old Covenant that Saul embraced, or it is our own theology of today

- "God will accept me if I'm a good person"

- "My good deeds will even things out"

- "It doesn't matter what I call 'God' it's all the same"

- "I'm not hurting anyone so I'm ok"

We have a tendency to fight for the right to believe whatever we want

So the Message of Jesus Christ brings us to a Crisis of Belief

Can I?

Should I?

What are the Ramifications if I abandon MY way for THE Way, Jesus?

Saul had never heard a message like the one Stephen and the Apostles preached

It MUST be blasphemy … but why SO Angry?

Because deep inside he thought this MIGHT be true …

And if it is … then everything in my life MUST change

Can I change my theology to embrace the Theology of Jesus Christ?

It is an unbelievable Message

1 Cor 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned

Grace, Grace, God's Grace

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within

Grace, Grace, God's Grace

Grace that is greater than all our sin

The message of Jesus Christ is an Unbelievable Message and brings us to a Crisis of Belief

But in Saul from we find …

2. An Unreachable Man

Saul held the coats and gave approval when they killed Stephen

There is NO WAY that HE would be reached by the Gospel of Grace found in Jesus Christ

So, Peter and Andrew, James and John, followed Jesus, but Saul?  Never.  They were unschooled unlearned men, but Saul?

Saul was a Pharisee, trained by the great Jewish Pharisee Gamalial.  He had devoted his whole life to the Law of Moses

He will never abandon this Doctrine for this new unbelievable message of Grace

Saul hates the Message,

he hates the followers of Jesus

he drags them to prison and has them beaten and killed

He is NOT reachable, so don't waste your time

Saul faced a Crisis of Belief

At Stephen's death,

at each imprisonment, he faced a crisis of belief,

do I believe in what I am doing?

On the Road to Damascus he was knocked down and blinded and spent 3 days in darkness … So Saul … NOW, what do you believe?

Maybe you are here today in the midst of a Crisis of Belief

Your system of beliefs have left you with greater doubts

Your wisdom has left you with more questions than answers

You have been plodding along trying to maintain your truth but it just doesn't feel right

You are at a crossroads, a Crisis of Belief, are you going to push ahead?

Are you going to turn right/left or

Are you going to Turn around?

What if

Up is Down and Down is Up?

What if you are living upside down?

You may be making correct decisions based on faulty truth … and if so … you will NOT get what you expect

Saul was an unreachable man, maybe you have thought or others have thought that YOU were unreachable or someone you know is unreachable

But we also have a another guy here, someone we don't pay much attention to in this story usually

but someone I think WE relate to in the church more than anyone else and more than we would like to admit and that is Ananias

3. An Unwilling Witness

Have you ever been an unwilling witness?

God is about the business of redeeming the World to himself

In that great mission of Salvation and Grace, God in his wisdom has chosen to call us to join him

Jesus said: "Go, Teach, Baptize"

Jesus prophesied "you will be my powerful witnesses everywhere"

Jesus says "Go talk to THAT GUY"

"Go Witness to HER"

and sometimes we say … "NO"

We say "What IF …"

What we are saying is

"I'm Afraid"

"I don't Trust"

"I don't Love"

An Unwilling Witness has NOT failed to hear or understand, they just don't like what they have heard

What did God say … ?

vv 11,12

Go …

To the House of Judas on Straight Street …

God why don't you be more clear about where you want me to go?

Saul of Tarsus is there praying …


Has seen you in a vision


Place your hands on him to restore sight

Well … why don't you be more clear on WHAT you want me to do

  A. Fear - I'm Afraid

I have heard many reports

All the harm he has done (to your saints)  God why would you want to mess with him?

He has come here with Authority … to arrest - God … what if he arrests me?

  B. I Don't Trust -

I'm not sure God can take care of me

I don't know if that's really what God expects or wants

  C. I Don't Love

I don't Love them

I don't Love God

Obedience is about LOVE

We may have an unbelievable Message - one that seems too good to believe

We may know Unreachable People

We may even be at time Unwilling Witnesses

But it's NOT all up to us,  because in the midst of an Amazing unbelievable message

Unreachable people

Unwilling witnesses

We have an

4. Unstoppable Grace

1 Cor 3:19,20 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.  As it is written: "he catches the wise in their craftiness" 20 and again, "the Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile"

1 Cor 1:18

?18? For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Can I remind you of

Psalm 24?

?1? The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it;

?2? for he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the waters.

?3? Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?

Who may stand in his holy place?

?4? He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul to an idol

or swear by what is false.

?5? He will receive blessing from the Lord

and vindication from God his Savior.

?6? Such is the generation of those who seek him,

who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah

?7? Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

?8? Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

the Lord mighty in battle.

?9? Lift up your heads, O you gates;

lift them up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

?10? Who is he, this King of glory?

The Lord Almighty-

he is the King of glory. Selah

When it comes to the Grace of God who are WE to say who is Unreachable?

After All of his protesting God gives the invitation again …

V15 GO!  This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name

Unwilling became Willing

Unreachable became Reachable

Unbelievable became WONDERFULLY Believable and Simple

V17 -

THEN Ananias WENT - Obedience

Obedience changes everything

… He said "Brother Saul, Jesus … has sent me so that you may see and be filled … Immediately … scales fell … he could see … was baptized

God is in the business of reaching the Unreachable through his Unstoppable Grace

Nebuchadnezzar was unreachable until he came face to face with the God of Daniel and was humbled and then said, "how great are his ways, how awesome his wonders, the strength of his Kingdom is enduring forever"

Cyrus was an unreachable pagan too who eventually testified to the greatness and wonder of Jehovah God

Zacchaeus was unreachable, a bitter little man, sold out to the Romans, yet Christ came to his house and his whole household came to Redemption through Christ

The Woman at the Well in Samaria was unreachable as a woman, as a Samaritan, as a Wayward Woman, she would never trust a man and surely not one out of Israel, yet she trusted Christ, drank from the Living Water, and brought her town to Christ

Jesus said in Luke 18:25-27

it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God 26 those who heard this asked "who then can be saved?" 27 Jesus replied "what is impossible with men is possible with God"

The Eye of the Needle was an area of the wall where a Shepherd would let his sheep pass through one at a time and he would remove burrs and other impurities from their wool.  But it was only big enough for one sheep at a time and definitely NOT big enough for a camel to pass through.

Jesus was saying that what is impossible for OTHER shepherds is NOT impossible for the Great Shepherd Jesus Christ. 

He can even get the impossible camel past the gates, clean, pure, and acceptable before a Holy God

Is the Arm of the Lord too Short?

Isa 50:2 … was my arm too short to ransom you?  Do I lack the strength to rescue you?  By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into desert;

Isa 59:1-2; 19-20

Surely the arm of the Lord is NOT too SHORT to save nor his ear too dull to hear but your iniquities have separated you from your god … 19 from the west, men will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.  For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along 20 The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the Lord

It is a Crisis of Belief

How Big is God?

Big Enough to Reach the Unreachable?

Well … then are we willing to Join him?

Abraham was willing so from an unbelievable source was born the line from which the Messiah would come

Joseph was an unlikely but willing source and his people were saved as was that part of the world through his God given wisdom and his obedience against unbelievable odds

Moses began as an unwilling, angry, and frightened invitee into the plan of Salvation for his people. 

Yet, when willing to follow he became part of God setting his people free and the law given him was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ and gift of grace

David was willing to face an unbeatable enemy and live a life after God's own heart and from his household came the Messiah

A group of fisherman, husbands, fathers, a tax collector, and others were given the invitation to become Fishers of Men and they turned the World Upside Down with the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Here - Ananias had every human expectation and right to be cautious, afraid, indifferent about Saul, even angry and unwilling,

But the Cross of Christ removes every reason

NOT to believe the message

NOT to believe that anyone is capable of being reached

And Any reason to be Unwilling to Join Him

Because of the Cross …

Love explains the Message of Grace

Love says anyone can come

Love says I MUST Join him

It is a Crisis of Belief

Can God save HOW he wants? Yes it is a Believable Message

Can God Save whomever will Respond in Faith whenever he will?  Yes there is no person unreachable if they will respond to the Unstoppable Grace of God. 

Can God USE whomever will Join him as a Willing Witness? Yes God and A Willing Witness responding to his invitation to Spread the Unstoppable Grace is an amazing thing

You stand at the Crossroads in a Crisis of Belief

You who are doubting the Message should take the Way of the Cross and Believe the Message of the Lord that Grace is available for you

You who are unwilling and believing that someone is Unreachable need to make the choice to believe that Love Compels you to Join God and reach out to the Unreachable with the message of Grace

It's Not about you,

It's not about them

It's not even about the message

It's about God, the Unstoppable Grace of God

Love Compels you to say "YES!"

Yes to the Message

Yes to Everyone who Needs to Hear

Yes to Join in his Mission of God of Unstoppable Grace

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