Faithlife Sermons

From Destruction To Proclamation (part 2)

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Introduction

Do any of you like Irises? The first time I saw them they looked like this (S). I was doing yard work for a couple in the church and they asked me to pull the weeds from around the irises. I thought the irises were the weeds! But then, they bloomed. And they were beautiful (S)! It was a total transformation! There are many things in nature that transform. Deciduous trees lose their leaves every winter (S). They look kind of ugly without them. But when they are full, they are wonderful (S)! Butterflies start out life as fat ugly worm-like creatures we call caterpillars (S). But when they emerge from their cocoons, they are beautiful (S)! The transformations we find in nature demonstrate what God is doing in you and me. God is about transformation! He is about taking men and women who we would write off and remaking them for His purpose and glory!
God is about transformation! He is about taking men and women who we would write off and remaking them for His purpose and glory!
God is about transformation! He is about taking men and women who we would write off and remaking them for His purpose and glory!
As we mentioned last week, Saul is an incredible picture of transformation. From enemy to son, from persecutor to proclaimer, from destroyer to builder.
The greatest evidence of transformation is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The greatest evidence of transformation is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Last week we learned about the price of proclamation. Today we will see the profit and product of proclaiming Christ.
Today we will see the profit and product of proclaiming Christ.
We are going to be challenged to proclaim Christ.
Through learning these three outcomes of proclamation we will be motivated to proclaim Christ.
When we proclaim Him we give evidence that He has transformed us.
As Saul begins to proclaim Christ we learn…
As Saul begins to proclaim Christ we learn…

1. The Price Of Proclamation vv. 20-25

Persecution

a. The motivation for persecution vv. 20-22

Motive = clarity, confusion, conviction.

b. The method of persecution vv. 23-25

Murder. They plot to kill Saul. He finds out, keeps preaching. Disciples deliver him.
When we are effective in our work for Christ, opposition will come. It will be organized and well funded. But there is something that we must never forget. (S). (p. 1347)
NKJVFor we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
This is very hard to remember when people are plotting against you. However, we must always bear in mind that they are not the true enemy. The enemy is sin. The enemy is Satan. The enemy is the hosts of darkness working to keep people spiritually blind! This means that when we face opposition, when we face plots and trials, we keep our cool and we give them the Word of God. It is never worthless! It is always living, active, and powerful.Saul learns of the plot, he knows they are watching the gates just waiting for him to try and leave. In v. 25, Saul escapes.If you want to do an interesting study, look at the various roles baskets and inanimate objects have played in Scripture. Moses’ basket, this one, Gideon’s pitchers, Jael’s nail. There are some fascinating tools God has used for His purpose and glory. You and I are tools for His purpose and glory.The disciples rescue Saul by lowering him through the wall to avoid the gates and at night so he wouldn’t be seen. This is wisdom. Saul is being hunted, get him out. This teaches us an important lesson.Avoid persecution and martyrdom when possible. Something we will see several times in Acts is that the followers of Christ leave town when there is trouble. Yet at other times we see them sticking around and being arrested. There is discernment necessary to know the difference. The principle seems to be that we avoid persecution when we can do so without compromise.When we proclaim Christ, there is always a chance that we will face persecution. Will that stop us? That is the price to proclaim Christ, persecution. There is another outcome of proclaiming Christ. We next learn…

2. The Profit Of Proclamation vv. 26-30

When we proclaim Christ, good things happen. People hear the gospel, they are convicted, and some come to Christ and are converted. Another benefit of bold proclamation is
Fellowship
Through proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ we are able to fellowship with other like-minded believers. Saul experiences that here. These verses deal with what are almost three stages of fellowship.

a. Fellowship Prevented v. 26

We are explicitly told what prevents fellowship here. What prevents fellowship? Fear.
The power of Saul’s preaching has led to him fleeing Damascus. He arrives at Jerusalem and the disciples are too afraid of him to let him fellowship with them.
This is exactly what happened with Ananias when the Lord first told him to go talk to Saul! Saul’s past continues to haunt these believers. Especially those in Jerusalem where he had carried out the majority of his activities.
When we know someone who has been antagonistic, caustic, and belittling we can often struggle to believe they have changed. There is something within us that finds it difficult to believe that sinners can become saints! Part of that may be our struggle to accept it for ourselves. Do we really believe that all becomes new in Christ?
Saul has been transformed! It has been three years and he has been powerfully preaching Christ. Yet still he is not trusted.
Fear prevents fellowship. This is catastrophic because fellowship is vital for the Christian life!
The end of v. 26 reveals that the cause of their fear is faithlessness.
They didn’t believe the conversion of Saul.
I can understand this. How can they be sure it isn’t a trap? They are cautious and afraid. They do not believe Saul.
We could very easily be guilty of this same thing. There is a balance between caution and care. Fear and faithlessness are not things that ought to characterize the life of a believer.
For genuine fellowship to occur there must be faith and acceptance.
When we come to Christ and are transformed by His grace there is no room for fear! Fellowship in the body of Christ is vital for personal growth, corporate growth, and outreach. We have to get past our fear, whatever that might be, and fellowship with the body of Christ!
Though initially rejected, Saul is eventually accepted due to one man’s willingness to take a chance. Through him we have…

b. Fellowship Promoted vv. 27-28

Thank God for Barnabas! Think about how different this story would be without those two words, “but Barnabas”. He comes and he presents Saul to the disciples in Jersualem. In this introduction he shares Saul’s testimony.
The visual imagery is like Barnabas grabbing Saul and leading him to the apostles. Like “oh, they don’t believe you’re a follower of Jesus? Come with me.” “Everyone, this is Saul. You remember him, right? Let me tell you all about how he came to Jesus!”
Without Barnabas, I believe that Saul may never have become Paul as we know him today. Think about the power of a Barnabas.
We need more Barnabases! We need men and women who will take new believers under their wing. Who will introduce them to mature believers. Who will trust them and accept them and help them along. Kent Hughes writes
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire Preparing for Service Through Other Believers’ Care for Us (Vv. 26–30)We are often prepared for effective service by the counsel and care of other believers.
Preaching the Word: Acts—The Church Afire Preparing for Service Through Other Believers’ Care for Us (Vv. 26–30)

We are often prepared for effective service by the counsel and care of other believers.

R. Kent Hughes, Acts: The Church Afire, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1996), 139.
Barnabas gives a full systematic account of what has happened to Saul. Talk about transformation! Saul saw the Lord, he spoke with Him; this experience changed his life. Saul boldly preached Jesus in Damascus. This serves as three-fold testimony to the conversion of Saul. The name that Saul had wanted to destroy, he now proclaims.
Barnabas gives a full systematic account of what has happened to Saul. Talk about transformation! Saul saw the Lord, he spoke with Him; this experience changed his life. Saul boldly preached Jesus in Damascus. This serves as three-fold testimony to the conversion of Saul. The name that Saul had wanted to destroy, he now proclaims.
The name that Saul had wanted to destroy, he now proclaims.For there to be fellowship, we need to hear each other’s testimonies. We need to know how the Lord brought us to Himself! How He has changed and transformed us! Fellowship is promoted when we are vulnerable with one another.Saul is vulnerable here. Barnabas is as well. Are we willing to be vulnerable that the body of Christ might have fellowship?Fellowship centers around the person and work of Jesus Christ.In the world. Fellowship is about common interests or shared goals. In Christ our commonality is the One who redeemed us! A bold proclamation of Christ promotes fellowship! After Barnabas brings Saul in and gives him a chance to give his testimony, Saul is accepted and welcomed. v. 28 reveals that their fellowship is promoted simply through Saul’s presence as he goes in and out among them. There is freedom here, and trust. They didn’t lock him up. No desire for revenge. What was needed was a Barnabas to step in and remove the fear and unbelief. They needed to get to know Saul. When they do we find the…There are two areas of profit revealed here. The first we find in v. 29. The profit of Christ proclaimed v. 29. Saul speaks boldly in the name of Jesus. He is straightforward and fearless. Are we? Not only does he boldly proclaim Christ, He disputes the Greek speaking Jews. Disputed – συζητέω (syzēteō) dispute; debate; argue. To debate v. — to discuss vehemently in order to reach a solution or an agreement. Finite verb, imperfect, active, indicative, third person, singular.Disputed – συζητέω (syzēteō)Saul debated and argued with these people. Not to prove himself right, but to win them to Christ! We already saw in v. 22 that Saul was able to prove from the OT that Jesus is the Christ. He isn’t just bold, Saul is clear, passionate, and convincing. The response of these people is to once again plot Saul’s death. This time, however, they go a step further. They actually attempt to kill him.Attempted – ἐπιχειρέω (epicheireō) attempt; endeavor; try. to endeavor v. — to attempt by employing effort. Finite verb, imperfect, active, indicative, third person, plural. Attempted – ἐπιχειρέω (epicheireō)The text seems to imply an actual attempt on Saul’s life. “Kill” is the same word used in vv. 23-24. The Jews wanted to get rid of Saul. They wanted to permanently silence him. This just goes to show how good he was! Saul’s proclamation of Christ is profiting the church. Whenever Christ is proclaimed, the church is strengthened. Once again, Saul is delivered through the intervention of his brothers and sisters in Christ. The second area of profit is The profit of Saul protected v. 30.These believers, who 15 days before wanted nothing to do with Saul, now protect him by sending him home to Tarsus.The wording is interesting here. It implies that Saul didn’t tell them an attempt had been made on his life! They discovered it. I believe that Saul had a desire to rebuild the church he once destroyed. Specifically the local church in Jerusalem. And so, he proclaims Christ boldly, and he debates passionately, even at the risk of his own life. How far are we willing to go?There is a profit to proclamation and it is fellowship. But fellowship only happens as we are vulnerable with a local body of believers.Saul is sent to his hometown of Tarsus. It must have been challenging to return there when he had left on the fast track to Jewish leadership. Now he is one of those Jesus followers! He remains there for 6-10 years until Barnabas recruits him to help in Antioch. Many of the trials he lists in probably occur during this time.God has already begun to use this “chosen vessel” to bear His name. Saul has already begun to suffer. From Saul’s conversion we find…
For there to be fellowship, we need to hear each other’s testimonies. We need to know how the Lord brought us to Himself! How He has changed and transformed us!
Fellowship is promoted when we are vulnerable with one another.
Saul is vulnerable here. Barnabas is as well. Are we willing to be vulnerable that the body of Christ might have fellowship?
Fellowship centers around the person and work of Jesus Christ.
In the world. Fellowship is about common interests or shared goals. In Christ our commonality is the One who redeemed us!
A bold proclamation of Christ promotes fellowship!
After Barnabas brings Saul in and shares his testimony, Saul is accepted and welcomed. God is calling you and me to be like Barnabas, to be vulnerable. Will we do it? We have our excuses don’t we? Health bad, house a mess, diet restrictions, etc. God doesn’t want our excuses, He wants our obedience.
v. 28 reveals that their fellowship is promoted simply through Saul’s presence as he goes in and out among them. There is freedom here, and trust. They didn’t lock him up. No desire for revenge. What was needed was a Barnabas to step in and remove the fear and unbelief. Be a Barnabas! They needed to get to know Saul. When they do we find the…

c. Fellowship Profited vv. 29-30

There are two areas of profit revealed here. The first we find in v. 29. The profit of Christ proclaimed v. 29.
Saul speaks boldly in the name of Jesus. He is straightforward and fearless. Are we? This is what comes of fellowship with the saints of God! We encourage and strengthen one another to proclaim Christ!
Not only does he boldly proclaim Christ, He disputes the Greek speaking Jews.
Disputed – συζητέω (syzēteō) dispute; debate; argue. To debate v. — to discuss vehemently in order to reach a solution or an agreement. Finite verb, imperfect, active, indicative, third person, singular.
Disputed – συζητέω (syzēteō)
Saul debated and argued with these people. Not to prove himself right, but to win them to Christ! We already saw in v. 22 that Saul was able to prove from the OT that Jesus is the Christ. He isn’t just bold, Saul is clear, passionate, and convincing.
The response of these people is to once again plot Saul’s death. This time, however, they go a step further. They actually attempt to kill him.
Attempted – ἐπιχειρέω (epicheireō) attempt; endeavor; try. to endeavor v. — to attempt by employing effort. Finite verb, imperfect, active, indicative, third person, plural.
Attempted – ἐπιχειρέω (epicheireō)
The text seems to imply an actual attempt on Saul’s life. “Kill” is the same word used in vv. 23-24. The Jews wanted to get rid of Saul. They wanted to permanently silence him. This just goes to show how good he was! Saul’s proclamation of Christ is profiting the church.
Whenever Christ is proclaimed, the church is strengthened.
One of the reasons we have Communion every month is because we firmly believe that it strengthens the body of Christ to be reminded of what He has done for us!
Once again, Saul is delivered through the intervention of his brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the second area of profit. The profit of Saul protected v. 30.
These believers, who 15 days before wanted nothing to do with Saul, now protect him by sending him home to Tarsus.
The wording is interesting here. It implies that Saul didn’t tell them an attempt had been made on his life! They discovered it. I believe that Saul had a desire to rebuild the church he once destroyed. Specifically the local church in Jerusalem. And so, he proclaims Christ boldly, and he debates passionately, even at the risk of his own life. How far are we willing to go?
There is a profit to proclamation and it is fellowship. But fellowship only happens as we are vulnerable with a local body of believers. When talking about church are often quoted. What we sometimes miss here is the why. Let’s look at these verses and pay careful attention to why we are to gather.
(p. 1381)
Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The church gathering is intended to challenge one another for service, and to come alongside and strength each other. When we proclaim Christ it builds fellowship and when we fellowship it enables us to better proclaim Christ! If you are not in fellowship with a local body of believers you cannot grow!
Saul is sent to his hometown of Tarsus. It must have been challenging to return there when he had left on the fast track to Jewish leadership. Now he is one of those Jesus followers! He remains there for 6-10 years until Barnabas recruits him to help in Antioch. Many of the trials he lists in probably occur during this time.
God has already begun to use this “chosen vessel” to bear His name. Saul has already begun to suffer. From Saul’s conversion we find…

3. The Product Of Proclamation v. 31

There is a very powerful verse that describes what redemption accomplishes on our behalf. That verse is (S).
(p.1297)
Romans 5:1 NKJV
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and we place our faith in Him, we have peace with God. Here in this passage we see evidence of this peace as well as peace with others. In these verses peace makes way for two blessings. First…
When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and we place our faith in Him, we have peace with God. Here in this passage we see evidence of this peace as well as peace with others. In these verses peace makes way for two blessings. First…

a. Peace allows edification v. 31a

This verse begins with the word “then”. This is an inferential conjunction which means that it serves as the conclusion for what has gone before. The implication is that the conversion of Saul has brought peace to the church in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. When we look back at how this chapter started we can easily see how this is true. Look at vv. 1-2. Saul had been destroying the church! He had been persecuting believers. Now the destroyer has become a proclaimer!
The peace that came to the church as a result of Saul’s conversion has resulted in edification.
The church is being built up, strengthened and matured.
Not only are they being edified because of the peace, I believe that part of this edification has taken place because of Saul’s bold, passionate, and persuasive preaching!
We also get a hint here of what is coming in Acts. The command of Christ in 1:8 was to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. So far, the ends of the earth have not been reached.
The church has peace and the church is being built up. God is at work! He is using Saul to reach people for Christ. Lives are being transformed. The gospel is taking root. All of this leads to the second blessing that peace makes way for…

b. Peace allows multiplication v. 31b

I am fascinated by the order of events here. Fear + Comfort = Multiplied.
Comfort – παράκλησις (paraklēsis) comfort; encouragement. Exhortation n. — the act of earnestly supporting or encouraging (a response or action). Noun (prepositional object), dative, singular, feminine.
Comfort – παράκλησις (paraklēsis)
In Jesus promises to send another paraklete, translated helper or comforter. In v. 17 He tells us that the comforter is the Spirit of truth. (S).
(p. 1242)
John 14:16–17 NKJV
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
The Holy Spirit supports, encourages, helps, and comforts.
The Holy Spirit supports, encourages, helps, and comforts.
Here we find the two ingredients necessary for numeric growth. The fear of the Lord and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is only when these two things are in place that the church grows.
But how do these things come about?
Fear of the Lord grows out of knowledge of Him. Where do we go to learn about the Lord? The Word of God, church, and our fellow believers. To learn of God, to know Him, is to fear Him!
The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth. He is said to guide us into all truth. (S).
(p. 1244)
John 16:13 NKJV
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
The Word of God is His Sword. (S).
(p. 1347)
Ephesians 6:17 NKJV
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
The Word pierces, divides, and exposes. (S).
(p. 1375)
Hebrews 4:12 NKJV
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Holy Spirit does His Work through the Word of God! That is His tool, His instrument for bringing encouragement, help, support, and comfort!
Beloved, we neglect this book to our peril! We neglect the church to our peril! We neglect fellowship to our peril!
As we look around at the modern church we see that in many places she is struggling, sick, and dying! Why? Because she is not being fed with the food of God’s Word! More than that, she is no longer feeding herself. Apart from the Bible we cannot know truth! We cannot defend our faith! We cannot grow!
A few years ago we got three blueberry bushes for $15 at Costco. We planted them, but didn’t water them enough and one of the plants died. Due to inconsistent watering, the other two have barely produced any fruit. For plants to grow and bear fruit they have to be cared for! We are no different!
But there is another thing about blueberry bushes. It’s called cross pollination. You can have a healthy plant that you water and fertilize and it will still die in isolation! We are the same! Our growth is enabled amongst a community of believers! We give and take with one another and both are benefited!
Allow me to be lovingly blunt. If Sunday morning is the only time you are being fed by the Word of God, you are going to be spiritually stunted. tells us how to grow (S).
(p. 1391)
1 Peter 2:2 NKJV
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
Without proper food and fellowship we cannot and will not grow. If we here at Grace Church are spiritually weak, we can never expect to grow in numbers.
Spiritual strength and maturity are developed by daily engagement in the Word of God.
Growth for the early church happened as they feared the Lord and experienced the work of the Holy Spirit. Both of these things require the Word of God.
Saul’s proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ brought peace, edification, and multiplication.

Conclusion

Saul was used as a vessel of God’s glory. He bore the name of Christ before the Jews and he suffered for it.
God is in the business of transformed lives. Turn with me to (p. 1314).
(p. 1314)
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
We are no longer what we once were! When we trust Jesus Christ as Savior we become new. (S).
(p. 1330)
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
What evidence of transformation is there in my life and yours?
Everyone who had ever heard of Saul knew he was transformed because he proclaimed Jesus Christ boldly, passionately, and persuasively. Are we proclaiming Christ?
It is my desire that we be challenged to proclaim Christ.
It has a price. We may face persecution. But it will be worth it.
It will be worth it because proclaiming Christ has the profit of fellowship.
In the end, the product of proclaiming Christ is peace. Peace with God and the peace of God.
May our lives display evidence of transformation as we boldly proclaim Jesus Christ.
“Change My Heart O God”
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