The Power of a Gospel Story
RECAP: Paul goes to the Temple in Jerusalem, in order to demonstrate his complete acceptance of the Jewish Law…and it backfires, spectacularly. The Jewish crowd, making false claims against Paul, start to beat him. The Roman commander hears the commotion so he sends troops into the fray where they arrest Paul and have to eventually carry him out of the crowd because they are trying to kill him so intensely.
But Paul’s not done yet...
v37-39: so clearly, the Romans have no idea who he is - but Paul wants to see if he can calm things down…but he also has a better idea.
ch21:v40-ch22:v3 - QUESTION: Paul does something incredibly clever here - what is it? answer: he speaks their language, probably Aramaic - it helps them to at least give him the benefit of the doubt since he’s speaking their own language
Not only that, but he also qualifies his background : a Jewish man, spent loads of time in Jerusalem, educated by a legendary Pharisee. He’s showing his credentials!
v4-5: remember, Paul was persecuting Christians - which would also potentially win the crowd over a little bit
v6-11: Paul retells his encounter with the ascended, glorified Jesus on the road to Damascus
QUESTION: Why is it important that the men with him saw the light too?
ANSWER: To verify his story that it actually happened.
v12-13: QUESTION: why do you think Paul describes Ananias the way he does? ANSWER: for more credibility with the Jews! Ananias was “devout” and “well spoken of by the Jews”!
v14-16: Ananias prophecies over Paul and then instructs him to be baptized “and wash away your sins, calling on his name”.
QUESTION: Does baptism wash our sins away?
ANSWER: NO! Grace washes our sins away, as we come to Jesus by faith, demonstrating that faith in obedience to Jesus’ command to be baptized.
v17-21: Paul explains another vision he had of Jesus, instructing him to leave Jerusalem and take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Was Paul successful in his obedience to Jesus’ commands? YES! Not because Paul was anyone special but because Jesus was working through Paul!
v22-24: things go from bad to worse! The crowd flips out after hearing that Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles. QUESTION: What was Paul accused of doing earlier, in regards to the Temple? ANSWER: bringing in a Gentile!
So, Paul upsets the crowd again and is brought back into the barracks for questioning with answers motivated by pain whipping.
But Paul has one last card up his sleeve...
v25-29: Paul plays the Roman citizenship card. A couple of things here:
Roman citizenship could be bought for money, or inherited by birth. Roman citizenship attained by birth was regarded highest.
Roman citizens could not be whipped or imprisoned without first standing trial. Soldiers who did it anyway would be severely punished.
Paul uses the last advantage he has, as a Roman citizen by birth
So what’s the point of all this?
Why is it important that we see what is happening to Paul?
How can we grow in our relationship with Jesus through knowing this story?
THE BIG IDEA: Paul’s story is unique in that, sure, most of us haven’t tortured or killed Christians! But his story is exactly like all of ours if we have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. We were lost in our sins. We thought we were living the way we ought to. And when we met Jesus, He showed us that we were wrong. He called us all to put our sin behind us and turn our eyes on Him. This is our Gospel story, just like Paul told it.
It’s very simple to tell your own Gospel story!
What was your life BEFORE your met Jesus?
What changed immediately?
What is taking more time to change?
Jesus doesn’t meet someone and leave them totally unchanged. If you have actually met Jesus, He will make a difference somewhere in your life - and be a bigger and bigger impact throughout your life.
QUESTION : What’s the risk of sharing your Gospel story?
ANSWER: They could hate you, reject you, hurt you, or kill you.
QUESTION : What’s the risk of NOT sharing your Gospel story?
ANSWER: People go to Hell and you don’t see God working in your own story.
So let’s take our own stories seriously and share them with others!