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The Light of His Presence

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With "The Light of His Presence" in conversion (Acts 9:3-9), the Apostle Paul shows five other features of the transformed life: 1) Fervency in supplication (Acts 9:10-12), 2) Faithfulness in service (Acts 9:13-17a), 3) The Filling of the Spirit (Acts 9:17b), 4) Fellowship with the saints (Acts 9:18-19), and 5) Fervency in speaking (Acts 9:20).

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Acts 9:10-20 "The Light of His Presence"-Part 2 Sunday January 12, 2020. Safe Haven Worship Centre. Acts 9:10-20 [10] Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." [11]And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, [12]and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." [13] But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. [14] And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." [15] But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. [16] For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." [17] So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." [18] And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; [19]and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. [20] And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." (ESV) A fundamental principle of the law of economics is this: the single most important cause of increasing productivity is better tools. Only 3 percent of (Canadians) today are farmers, yet they feed (much of Canada and export around) the world. Why is it that the (Canadian) farmer can produce so much more food than farmers from other countries? It is not because the (Canadian) has a higher IQ or a better physique or more information about agriculture. It is because the (Canadian) farmer has better tools. The (Canadian) farmer has a John Deere tractor, whereas farmers in other countries have a plow that is pulled behind a mule. A farmer working with a tractor and all the harvesting equipment we have in (Canada) today can vastly outproduce a farmer working alone with primitive tools. Jesus had chosen Saul as His instrument/tool to help cultivate the kingdom that He had planted. Saul hadn’t chosen Christ, but Christ had chosen him for His purposes—to bear His name. Saul had come bearing papers of authority from the high priest to wipe Christ’s name off the face of the earth, but Christ had stopped him. He gave Saul a new burden, to bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. (Sproul, R. C. (2010). Acts (p. 164). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.) Faithful followers of Christ are effective instruments in the Master’s hand. Just like each tool is designed for a specific purpose, every believer has been designed by God to fulfill a specific mission. Just as a fine violin can produce beautiful music in the hands of a virtuoso, yet prove quite ineffective to hammer nails, so too when we surrender to God and have Him use us for the purpose for which we are designed, the result is often glorious. Last week (Acts 9:1-9) we saw how Paul was changed by coming face to face with "The Light of His Presence". Now, in Acts 9:10-20 we see that although Jesus brings Paul to conversion, Paul still has to face entrance into the church that he came to destroy. This is not one of Paul’s concerns, however, for Jesus opens the way for him to enter the church (through Ananias) and to be welcomed by the believers. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 17: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. New Testament Commentary (337). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). With "The Light of His Presence" in conversion (Acts 9:3-9), the Apostle Paul shows five other features of the transformed life: 1) Fervency in supplication (Acts 9:10-12), 2) Faithfulness in service (Acts 9:13-17a), 3) The Filling of the Spirit (Acts 9:17b), 4) Fellowship with the saints (Acts 9:18-19), and 5) Fervency in speaking (Acts 9:20) From God, we can experience “The Light of His Presence” as manifested in: 1) Fervency in Supplication (Acts 9:10-12) Acts 9:10-12 [10] Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." [11]And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, [12]and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." (ESV) Last week we looked at Paul’s testimony from Acts 22. Let’s return there now to continue where we left off. While Saul waited, blinded and fasting, thinking deeply about what had occurred, God was dealing with another man. The disciple at Damascus named Ananias who was obviously not the same Ananias executed by God in chapter 5. Ananias, the Greek form of the Hebrew Hananiah, is quite common, appearing for at least fourteen persons in the OT. It means “the mercy of the Lord” and is especially appropriate here. (Faw, C. E. (1993). Acts (p. 111). Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.) Acts 22:12-13 describes him: Acts 22:12-13 [12] "And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. (ESV) • “Keep your place in Acts 22, for we will return to it.” • Here, Ananias as likely one of the spiritual leaders of the Damascus church. If so, he also, ironically, would have been one of Saul’s main targets. Ananias means “Jehovah is gracious.” He was a gracious provision from God to guide Saul (Robertson, A. (1997). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ac 9:10). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.) • We truly show that Christ changes lives when we can love those who are our enemies. Christ came to those who hated Him. He tangibly showed them God’s love. Although the response will not always be reciprocated, if Christ is in us, we can supernaturally show God’s love. There is nothing more countercultural than loving those who do not love us. Acts 9:11 notes that The Lord said to (Ananias) in a vision to rise and go to the street called Straight. Straight Street was the main east-west thoroughfare of Damascus. The Romans made a kind of promenade out of it, with large porches at either end. It was called Straight Street because nearly all the other streets in the city were crooked. Ananias was instructed to look/inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. That was a severe test of Ananias’s faith, since Saul’s fearsome reputation was widely known (cf. vv. 13–14). Ananias would have had no way of knowing of Saul’s conversion, since the Lord did not reveal it to him. (Balge, R. D. (1988). Acts. The People's Bible (101). Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House). • The Lord will call us to do things that look impossible from the information we have to strengthen our faith, but most importantly, to show that He was the one working through us who should be glorified in the action. When our actions are small and safe, we not only lose out on God blessing us but in essence, fail to give Him the glory He desired to work though us. The footnote for behold, he is praying informs us of what Saul did during his three days without sight. Prayer is the spontaneous response of the believing heart to God. Those truly transformed by Jesus Christ find themselves lost in the wonder and joy of communion with Him. Prayer is as natural for the Christian as breathing. Paul became a man of unceasing prayer. He prayed for sight, to be sure; and wisdom to discern aright what he had experienced on the road that led to Damascus. He also prayed for forgiveness, as the burden of his guilt must have weighed heavily on him. Few things signal the genuineness of conversion better than a desire to pray.( Thomas, D. W. H. (2011). Acts. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (p. 257). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.) • As a congregation we have desired to see things happen and doors open. Thus far, we seem to have experienced roadblocks as private preferences overrule what God would desire for us as a whole. We came together corporately in a special congregational prayer gathering and instantly I believe God has responded. A door has opened that thus far has been closed to us and we are going to share very soon what God has opened to us corporately as a congregation. While he waited for Ananias, Acts 9:12 records that God gave Saul a vision that Ananias would come and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight. Laying on of hands was an OT custom that was also practiced in rabbinic Judaism for the ordination of a student to serve as a rabbi (see Gen. 48:14, 20; Num. 27:15–17; Deut. 34:9). In the NT, hands were placed on a person for healing (see Mark 8:23–25; Acts 9:12, 17), for blessing (Matt. 19:13–15), for setting someone apart for a specific ministry (Acts 6:6; 13:3), and as a visible sign of God’s promise to pour out His Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:6). God, in His tender kindness to this persecutor, did not want him to be in any unnecessary sorrow, so He gave Saul hope for receiving his sight. A pair of visions were about to bring together two men who had been poles apart (Thomas Nelson, I. (1995). The Woman’s Study Bible (Ac 9:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.). • Hope is the precursor to action. Without a vision of hope, actions either do not occur or become routine. Illustration: Sir Frances Drake talked about hope, and fervency of action in his prayer entitled: “Disturb us, Lord”: “ Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love”. (Sir Frances Drake Quoted in OC Missionary Prayer Letter of Jeanie Curryer, September, 1997) From God, we can experience “The Light of His Presence” as manifested in: 2) Faithfulness in Service (Acts 9:13-17a) Acts 9:13-17a [13] But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. [14] And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." [15] But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. [16] For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." [17] So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight (and be filled with the Holy Spirit.") (ESV) In answer to Saul’s prayer, God directed Ananias to go to him. As already noted, that command provided a severe test for Ananias’s courage. Understandably, he balked at going, protesting, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil/harm he has done to your saints at Jerusalem; Saints is the first time this designation is used for Christians in Acts. It carries the richly positive sense of people who are ‘holy,’ in the sense of being ‘set apart for God’s special use and possession.’ (Milne, B. (2010). The Acts of the Apostles: Witnesses to Him ... to the Ends of the Earth (pp. 213–214). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.) Ananias remarked on Saul in verse 14 “|And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon your name.” Since the word from the believers in Jerusalem had arrived before Saul, the church at Damascus knew he was coming and why. So, Ananias said in effect, “Lord, do You know what You are asking?” The direction from God no doubt appeared to him to be suicidal. His life was at stake, and so was the ministry he had in the church. He was asking if the Lord really meant to end both. But for Saul, he needed the touch of a disciple’s hand and faithfulness. He needed the presence of some disciple who was faithful enough to come and touch his life. He needed to see faithfulness in action—love, care, concern, interest, help—all ministered to him in the name of Christ. Nothing could help the new convert more than seeing the faithfulness of a disciple reaching out to help him in his need. (Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2003). The Acts of the Apostles (p. 131). Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.) • Why does the Lord put us in uncomfortable situations? So, our only comfort is Him. Why does He ask us to do things that seem foolish from the word’s perspective? So, we are directed by His ways and wisdom and not what the world finds profitable. The last place that our decision making should come from is based on our immediate comfort or human preference. Human aims, with human means result in passing human ends. God’s aims, by God’s means result in eternal Godly ends. Ananias’s protest was overruled, as God explained in Acts 9:15 to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to carry/bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” True godly ministry is not based on the whims of people but on the sovereign choice of God. Ananias understood that truth clearly, and so did Saul. In Galatians 1:1 he wrote, “Paul, an apostle (Not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)” (cf. 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). To the Colossian church he said, “I was made a minister,” and that “by the stewardship of God bestowed on me” (Col. 1:23, 25). He also understood that though he often preached to the Jews first (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1, 10; 18:4; 19:8), his primary calling was to minister to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13; 15:16). Normally, for Paul to be an apostle, such a person had to be a follower of Jesus from the time when John baptized Jesus in the Jordan to the day of his ascension. And an apostle had to be a witness of Christ’s resurrection. Nonetheless, Paul is an apostle because Jesus himself appointed him to apostolic rank. Even though he is not numbered with the Twelve, the apostles in Jerusalem accepted him as Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles. Their reasons were five: First, Paul saw the resurrected Jesus and thus became a witness of his resurrection (26:16–18; I Cor. 9:1). Second, like the other apostles, Paul possessed the power to perform signs and wonders. Third, as the apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, so did Paul (9:17). Fourth, Paul proclaimed the same gospel the apostles proclaimed (Gal. 2:2). Finally, fifth, with the rest of the apostles Paul became an interpreter of the gospel. In short, from Paul’s own testimony in his letters and speeches we know that he fulfilled the apostolic requirements. Paul was personally called by Jesus. Further, he was privileged to carry/bear witness to his Lord before kings, such as Agrippa (Acts 25:23ff.), and, most likely, Caesar (cf. 2 Tim. 4:16–17). (Everett F. Harrison, “Apostle, Apostleship,” EDT, pp. 70–72; William Childs Robinson, “Apostle,” ISBE, vol. 1, pp. 192–95). • God gives His spiritual gifts and commissions for service for specific tasks. Those trials were only a small portion of how much it says in Acts 9:16, Saul would suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name. The Gospel is a message of peace between believer and God though faith in the person who is named Jesus. Yet, Saul would suffer for proclaiming the message of peace. …First Corinthians 4:9–13, 2 Corinthians 11:23–29, and 12:7–10 catalog the suffering Saul endured for the sake of His Lord. And his suffering, which never stopped until an ax severed his devout head from his faithful body, didn’t wait long to begin—only a few days. (Balge, R. D. (1988). Acts. The People's Bible (102). Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House.). • When God calls us to service, it is not for self-fulfillment and pleasure, but to give up sovereignty over our own lives to Him and be willing to die for Him if necessary. Look again at Acts 22 Strengthened by the direct word from the Lord, and overcoming his fears, Acts 9:17 records that Ananias departed and entered the house of Judas, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight.” In Acts 22. We see how this was Saul’s commissioning for service: Acts 22:14-15 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. (ESV) The stories of both Ananias and Saul illustrate the truth that the transformed life demands service to Christ. As Saul was later to write: 1 Corinthians 4:1 [4:1] This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (ESV) Illustration: In the Christian life, God will sometimes ask us to do the most difficult and testing thing, either by directly calling us to a particular task or ministry, or indirectly by allowing us to face a difficult situation as a test of our faith. In 1793 William Carey—the pioneer of the Baptist Missionary Society—felt God calling him to Bengal in India. It was a difficult challenge. His wife was forty and expecting their fourth child, she had never travelled beyond the boundary of her own village, and had no desire to do so. Also, the small church of which he was the pastor begged him not to go, and his own father advised against it. But he obeyed and went. And we are glad he did so, for he became the forerunner of modern missions. His slogan was ‘Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God’. Faith needs to be tested from time to time (Williams, P. (2004). Acts: Church on the Move: An Expositional Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (p. 100). Leominster: DayOne.). From God, we can experience “The Light of His Presence” as manifested in: 3) The Filling of the Spirit (Acts 9:17b) Acts 9:17b [17] (So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight) and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (ESV) Ananias was the bearer of far more important news to Saul than that he would regain his sight. Far more wonderfully, he would also be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was already active in Saul’s life, convicting him of sin (John 16:9), convincing him of the lordship of Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3), converting him (John 3:5; Titus 3:5), placing him into Christ’s body, the church, and indwelling him permanently (1 Cor. 12:13). Beyond all that, he was to be filled with the Spirit in a way that uniquely empowered him for service (cf. 2:4, 14; 4:8, 31; 6:5, 8). It is significant that unlike the Jews (Acts 2:1–4), the Samaritans (Acts 8:14–17), and soon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44–46), Saul had received the Spirit and his commissioning to service with no apostles present. Saul was a Jew, so there was no need to repeat the initial coming of the Spirit that occurred at Pentecost. Also, he was an apostle in his own right and did not derive his authority from the other apostles (Gal. 1:1; cf. 1 Cor. 9:1; 2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11; Gal. 1:15–17), nor was he subject to their authority. Like them, he was chosen personally by the Lord Jesus Christ and received the Spirit for his commissioning and power directly from Him. The Spirit transformed Saul in two fundamental ways. First, He took Saul’s natural strengths and refined them. Saul was a gifted natural leader, with strong will power. He was a man of strong convictions, a self-starter, bold, a master at using his time and talents, a motivated individual, and a profoundly gifted thinker and speaker. The Holy Spirit also eliminated undesirable characteristics and replaced them with desirable ones. He replaced Saul’s cruel hatred with love; his restless, aggressive spirit with peace; his rough, hard-nosed treatment of people with gentleness; his pride with humility. Only the Spirit of God can so thoroughly sanctify a life. Saul later expressed that truth to the Corinthians: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Saul’s filling with the Spirit is not a delayed reception of the baptism of the Spirit as a salvation blessing, but is the first of many empowerments for apostolic witness (compare 13:9; also see 2:4; 4:8, 31). This is Paul’s “Pentecost,” further validating his apostleship.( Larkin, W. J., Jr. (1995). Acts (Vol. 5, Ac 9:10). Westmont, IL: IVP Academic.) Illustration: An old story tells about a little boy in Sunday school whose teacher asked what part he played in his salvation. He responded that his conversion had been partly God’s work and partly his own. An astounded and rather nervous teacher inquired about that strange answer until the boy replied, “I opposed God all I could, and He did the rest.” Such was the experience of Saul of Tarsus. Former rabbi. Former persecutor. Former agent of the high priest. Transformed by God and filled with the Holy Spirit. (Gangel, K. O. (1998). Vol. 5: Acts. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (142). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) From God, we can experience “The Light of His Presence” as manifested in: 4) Fellowship with the Saints (Acts 9:18-19) Acts 9:18-19 [18] And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; [19]and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. (ESV) Immediately after Ananias’s words, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. The words "fell" and "scales" (ἀπέπεσον — λεπίδες) occur only here in the New Testament (Vincent, M. R. (2002). Word studies in the New Testament (Ac 9:18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.). “Scales” is the Greek lepis, a medical term of the first century which refers to a growth of skin that causes blindness (Elwell, W. A. (1996). Vol. 3: Evangelical commentary on the Bible. Baker reference library (Ac 9:1). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.).. It (can also) describe merely a certain sensation which he experienced at the moment, that is, he felt as if something resembling scales fell from his eyes, after which he could see again (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Gotthard, V. L., Gerok, C., & Schaeffer, C. F. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Acts (169). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.). All this can be seen as symbolic of Saul’s conversion from darkness to light and as bearer now of that same light. In addition, some see a connection between this eye disorder and Saul’s later reference to his poor eyesight (Gal. 4:15) (Elwell, W. A. (1996). Vol. 3: Evangelical commentary on the Bible. Baker reference library (Ac 9:1). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.). In response to Ananias’s exhortation (cf. Acts 22:16), Saul rose and was baptized. By that act he openly united with the very people he had hated and persecuted. His hated enemies became his friends, while his former friends instantly became his enemies (cf. v. 23). In keeping with the consistent pattern of believers’ testimonies in Acts, Saul’s baptism followed his conversion. baptism was an outer sign of the infilling, not the time of the infilling. That is in keeping with the early church’s practice of baptism being a witness to the community of believers of the deep and inner bond of the Spirit’s infilling (Ogilvie, L. J., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1983). Vol. 28: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 28 : Acts. The Preacher's Commentary series (167). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.). • For those who trust in the name of Christ for salvation, baptism is a necessary step of faithful obedience explicitly commanded and shown throughout scripture. Saul enjoyed his first taste of Christian fellowship as it says in Acts 9:19 that he took food and was strengthened. He remained for some days with the disciples who were at Damascus, allowing them to celebrate his conversion with him and minister to his needs. One can imagine the overwhelming joy of those days and the incessant praise to God. We learn when we read what Paul says in Galatians that it was actually a three-year period. Sometime during this period, Paul went into Arabia and returned to Damascus. Then after he had returned to Damascus, three years now having passed either in Damascus or in Arabia, he went to Jerusalem. These time details teach that even the apostle Paul needed significant time for preparation (Boice, J. M. (1997). Acts : An expositional commentary (156). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.). Please turn to 1 John 3 Believers are those who do “not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Ps. 1:1). They can say with the psalmist, “I am a companion of all those who fear Thee, and of those who keep Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:63). That does not mean, of course, that Christians are to have no contact with unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:9–10). But a professing Christian who prefers the company of the people of the world is probably still one of them. One sure mark of a "The Light of His Presence" in a transformed life is the desire to be with fellow Christians. John explained it like this: 1 John 3:11-15 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (ESV) • This clear test of someone who is walking in the Light of Christ’s Presence is someone who loves other believers. This standard is not that we love people who we would otherwise like, or are outwardly kind to us. If we have unresolved animosity against another believer we clearly walk in sin. Believers will face correction and often consequences from God when it is not resolved. Illustration: During World War II, the Axis powers conducted experiments to find the most effective type of punishment for eliciting information from prisoners. They found that solitary confinement was the most effective. After a few days of solitary confinement, most men would tell all. That is why we need fellowship—without it we too become easy prey for temptation and abandonment of our values (Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). Finally, from God, we can experience “The Light of His Presence” as manifested in: 5) Fervency in Speaking (Act 9:20) Acts 9:20 [20] And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." (ESV) Those who have experienced "The Light of His Presence" being transformed by the saving grace of God cannot stop speaking about it (Acts 4:20).Immediately after receiving his sight and spending some time with the believers in Damascus, Saul went to the synagogues to tell the Jews about Christ. Notice that Saul took time alone to learn about Jesus before beginning his worldwide ministry, but he did not wait to witness. Although we should not rush into a ministry unprepared, we do not need to wait before telling others the story of our encounter with Christ (Barton, B. B., & Osborne, G. R. (1999). Acts. Life application Bible commentary (159). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.). Significant is the fact that only in the verse which describes Paul’s initial preaching does the phrase Son of God appear in Acts. That is, Paul’s preaching begins with the assertion that Jesus is the Son of God, who has fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. ... the idea of sonship applies specifically to a royal descendant of David (II Sam. 7:14) and the Messiah (Ps. 2:7). (Guthrie, New Testament Theology, p. 302; see also Bruce, Book of the Acts, p. 190.) Jesus never used the title himself except when, on trial, he was asked by the high priest whether he was the Son of God (Matt. 26:63). When Jesus answered affirmatively, he was accused of blasphemy. Now Paul continues to preach in the Damascus synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God and thus reveals the heart of the Christian faith. It is a title for our Lord that speaks of His deity (cf. John 10:31–36).(Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 17: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. New Testament Commentary (346). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). To the shocked Christians, surprised by his conversion, can be added the shocked Jews, who were expecting him to take Christians prisoner, not preach Jesus Christ in their synagogues. From the beginning he felt that courageous compulsion that later caused him to exclaim: 1 Corinthians 9:16 [16] For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (ESV) Many of us pray for people. Sometimes it is for a son or a daughter, sometimes a parent, sometimes a friend, sometimes a wife or husband. We ask God to change his or her life and save the person. But often we really do not think God can (or will) do it. We pray, but we mutter beneath the surface of our prayers, “I know you saved others, but I really don’t believe that you can save my wife or husband or son or daughter.” We should be greatly encouraged by the fact that God saved Saul. God turned this great persecutor of the early Christians into the first great missionary. He took the man who had been doing most to harm the church and turned him into the man who did most to build it up. If God could do that with Saul, God can do the same thing today. If you have a son or daughter whom you are worried about, a child who is off somewhere not serving the Lord, or a husband or wife who is unconverted, keep praying for him or her. God can (and frequently does) do something remarkable. (Boice, J. M. (1997). Acts : An expositional commentary (152). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.). Prayer: “O Lord, thank you for hunting us down and bringing us into your kingdom. And thank you that now we can hunt others, showing them their desperate need because of their sin, and telling them the good news of forgiveness and salvation and life through Jesus Christ. Thank you for the miracle that has happened in our lives and for the miracles that are about to happen all around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen (Hughes, R. K. (1996). Acts: the church afire (p. 132). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.) (Format note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. (1994). Acts (261–275). Chicago: Moody Press.)
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