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The Way Of Conversion-Part IV

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The Way of Conversion Brings Genuine Transformation

Acts 9:19b-30

Transformation in Thought

Transformation in Authority

Transformation in Associations

Saul had now been transformed in his thinking and in his authority. He no longer was the persecutor of the church now he was the bond-servant of Christ Jesus converted to a Christ follower by an incredible and undeniable call by Jesus Christ Himself. This transformation of thought and authority lead to also having a transformation in his association. Not just a transformation in his association with people but a transformation from his association from the law to grace and from the religious to the redeemed. Let's first look at the the way of conversion transforms us from being associated with the law to being associated with Grace.
Saul had moved about and gone to Damascus for one purpose and one purpose only, to bring back those who were followers of Jesus Christ. Those who, by Saul's own understanding, were breaking the law of Moses. Saul in his attack against the church of Jesus Christ was holding up the law and tradition. He claimed they were blasphemers against Moses and the Law of God and the temple. He used the law to bring them bond to Jerusalem. Now Saul has been saved by grace, he has for the first time understood what the law was meant to do, it was meant to be used in a means to bind people up but to point to their being set free by grace in and through Jesus Christ. Look with me at verses 23-25, "When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket."
What is happening here is Saul is proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ and He is doing so from the Scriptures. He is pointing in just the same way as Stephen did from their own Scripture how Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and how He has come to save mankind from the sin of the world. He is using the same law to point to Jesus that he used to bind up the Christians. Seeing as how Saul was trained as in the law and knew the law that it would be easy for the religious elite to here it and take it in. Well the problem was the law in and of itself can not save. It was only for the purpose of showing us that we can do nothing to be saved but we have a need for salvation. Those who were the enforcers of the law for the most part enforced it without mercy or grace. Saul was one of those who enforced the law without mercy or grace and here is one of those examples. The Jews plotted to do away with him. They wanted Saul out of the way, why? Because he was interfering with their way of teaching and their way of life. Saul's teaching was confounding the Jews because Saul was proving from the Scriptures how Jesus is the Christ.
This teaching is different then what the Jews teach. The Jews use the law as a means to points to external behavior as the demonstration of righteousness. Simply put if you do keep all ten commandments and the other laws written in the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers then you are a righteous person. This is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the law. The Law was meant to show them the standard get set before them and point to the righteousness of Christ. The Law points to grace. These Jewish people who were threatened by Saul and His message of Jesus Christ being the Messiah wanted Saul out of the way because Saul, in the same way Jesus taught that righteousness didn't come from the outside in but from the inside out was teaching the same thing.
Saul says this to the Galatian Church, Galatians 5:1-6
Galatians 5:1–6 NASB95
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
The Jews Believed the Law is what Saves, the Law doesn't save if the Law saves there would be no reason for Jesus to have come and be born under the law, the same law He instituted and die under that Law and keep that Law perfectly. He is the only one able to do so because He is perfect. The Law points out our sinfulness our faults and failures and it is the benchmark of holiness, because it is God's Standard for us. Still it doesn't save Salvation is only through Jesus Christ. The Law points to Grace because Grace is the only way of Salvation. The Law and Grace are not separated, the Law is necessary so that we see we are undeserving of heaven and Jesus has made us deserving of heaven. This is what Saul is teaching and this is an attack on the Jewish system and they are not happy. Saul was converted and at his conversion he was transformed from believing the Law saved to the true understanding that it was always grace that saved and the law was a pointer to the grace. Conversion transforms our association with the law, meaning we don't see the moral as those who are deserving of salvation instead we see no one is deserving of Salvation because no one can keep the Law perfectly but Jesus. Now that we have been saved now we can examine our lives based on the Law and we can seek to be observers of Holiness because know we can know the One who has provided the standard.
Not only does conversion transform our association with the law and grace it also it also transforms our association from the religious to the redeemed.
The Jews wanted Saul dead. Why because of the fact he is proving Jesus is the Messiah, and he is proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God. All of this breaks down their religious system. Since it broke down their religious system they wanted Saul not only out of their religious community but out of the way entirely. Saul was transformed and his associations transformed too. They are no longer with those who are only religious those who are marked only by an external observance to something they believe saves them. He is now associated with those who are redeemed who's hearts have been dramatically changed and who understand what it means to know grace. We as Christians belong to a religious system, religion is simply a group of people with a common belief but the system we belong to is deeper then just a common belief because our system of belief hinges on God's ultimate plan of Salvation and the plan involves the redemption of mankind. We are not just religious we are redeemed to God. The Jews were and are very religious they follow set rules to present themselves as pious or worshipping God. The issue is in order to worship God rightly you must first be redeemed. God has redeemed us to Himself through Jesus Christ. Here we see that the Jews saw that Saul was different, He was transformed no longer falling under their religious order and they wanted him out of the way. Religion does this, their is no grace when it comes to the religious. The religious follow only external laws.
When it comes to the redeemed they look at the external too, don't get me wrong but the external is an outworking of what God is doing in their heart. The external points to God and it is genuine because it comes from the inside out. Jesus taught on this very issue when He sat down to eat a meal and didn't ceremonially wash His hands and the religious leaders said under their breath He eats without first washing His hands. What does Jesus say to them, it is not what goes into the body that defiles him but what comes out of the heart. God doesn't just want actions He wants our hearts and the actions flow from this. The Jews looked on Saul as breaking from religion but what truly happened was redemption which transformed Saul which brought about true religion which is a true worship.
When it comes to being transformed by grace and redemption is first the way you look at others. You see them know through the eyes of grace because knowing true grace and knowing that you do not deserve to be redeemed causes you to look on others and want them to experience the same grace and the same redemption. The other thing that happens is what is very sad for most people and what I think becomes the real litmus test of Salvation, the loss of those friends and family they once had. The men in who's circle Saul ran in and was a very influential part of now have turned against him. They want him dead and they want nothing to do with him. This I believe is one of the top causes of people falling away from the faith. They can't handle the rejection of their friends and family to what they have now embraced.
Jesus says this in John 15:18-21
John 15:18–21 NASB95
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
The religious only help one another when it suits them, the redeemed help one another because God wants them. The disciples helped Saul they lowered him out of a window of a house that was situated in the wall of the city. Saul took this opportunity to go back to Jerusalem and when he was not very welcomed when he arrived there by either the Jews or the redeemed at first. But once Saul encountered him he brought Saul to the apostles and Saul was protected by the redeemed. This is grace, grace looks at the present in light of the future not looking at the present in light of the passed. The passed doesn't matter when it come to grace because grace has redeemed us from our passed. No this doesn't mean God forgets what we have done that goes against God's character it only means he doesn't hold it against us. That is grace and that is redemption. This is a glorious example of what it means to be transformed in our association with grace and to the redeemed. We are gracious to others and we welcome the redeemed.

Transformation in Direction

The last transformation we want to look at is a transformation in direction. Saul went about Jerusalem speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. His speaking freely lead to confrontations with the Hellenistic Jews, those who were not naturally born Jews just like Saul. The religious wanted nothing to do with the redeemed and they wanted this to end so they wanted Saul out of the way. God saw fit to keep Saul alive and so the disciples of God protected Saul and sent him off to Tarsus, his hometown. Now there is nothing written about Saul in these ten years while he is in his hometown but one thing is for sure he did hind under a rock he was out proclaiming Christ as the Son of God and proving from the Scripture that Jesus is the Messiah. The fact of the matter is when God converts us we must be willing to go. Sometimes it takes the threat of life to get us to move but God transforms our direction. God transformed the lives of a couple of fishermen and turned them from catching fish to catching men, he turned a tax collectors from chasing after money and swindling the people to proclaiming the truths of the gospel. God transforms direction.
Proverbs 16:1–3 NASB95
1 The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. 3 Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established.
We can plan it but directs it. That is why it so important to be in prayer for what God wants instead of trying to manipulate God into giving you what you want. You can plan it but know God is in control of it. Be patient on His timing and don't push it let Him direct you.
James says this in James 4:13-16
James 4:13–16 NASB95
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
Our direction is not our own anymore. Have you noticed these transformations in your life in the way of conversion.
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