Acts 9: An unlikely conversion
Pastor David continues the Acts Series with a focus on Acts 9. This message dives deep into the unlikely conversion of the apostle Paul, exploring his life before his transformation and how he became a Christian. Through this incredible story, we will see how God's grace can transform even the most unlikely people into powerful witnesses for Christ.
Acts chapter 9. I really wish we had time to read this whole story but but we don't and you know he's a three-point sermon on this if you ever wanted to preach on it but I'm not using these points but here's what I could have done had about Paul Paul persecuting in the first section and then Paul praying in it later on and then Paul proclaiming and we're not going to do too much about that three p's there Paul or Saul persecuting praying proclaiming and you'll pick up some of that in some of our reading but let me just read um read some of it meanwhile from verse one meanwhile Saul was still breathing out murderous threats so Saul became poor remember that so this morning I'm going to probably interchange stall and Paul or may use one name more than the other but I'm talking about the same character meanwhile Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples he went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any there who belonged to the way whether men or women he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem as he neared Damascus on his journey suddenly a light from Heaven flashed around him he fell to the ground and heard a voiced voice say to him sore Saul why do you persecute me who are you Lord Saul asked I'm Jesus whom you are persecuting he replied now get up and go into the City and you'll be told what you must do there let's just skip a couple of verses verse 10 in Damascus is the disciple named ananias the Lord called to him in a vision ananias yes Lord he answered the Lord told him go to the house of Judas on straight straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul for he is praying in a vision he has seen a man named ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight Lord ananias answered I've heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your Saints in Jerusalem and he's come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name but the Lord said to ananias gay 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 and ananias went to the house and entered it brother Saul the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit immediately something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and he could see you again he got up and was baptized and after taking some food he regained his strength in fact changes happening all around us and most of the change is incidental like most people here in church sit in the same seat each Sunday it makes it easy for us pastors because we can look around and know who's here and who's not here it was not just the passes but anyone occasionally people get in their mind they're going to sit somewhere differently and so you'll notice if you notice that we're sitting over there today so I have no idea why but my wife has got inner in her mind that I've seen in different seats from time to time and she said let's sit over with that this trouble group over here down the front so that we might witness to them about Jesus no that's not true but uh but it's shifting around understand there's been somebody who's actually influenced her along that line to keep changing seats but I won't dump any anyone there but you know fashion is another thing that um that also changes from time to time those who look at me closely will realize that this last week that I've had a haircut um by the way this scratch here has nothing to do with my haircut I was mowing yesterday and I didn't duck low enough going under a tree in our backyard when we're out there praying before the team said oh you need to come up with a better story than that you know fighting wild animals or something like that but being at Sunday I feel compelled to tell the truth and so it's just a scratch from my mulberry tree anyway another that I digress I went in to get um to get a haircut and uh you know whenever you sit down I know it happens to you but they always say to me so what are we doing for you today and I thought change is in the air I said I think I'll have a mullet and she did exactly what you did she laughed at me and I thought that's a bit rude I said just to save her I said I'll just uh just kidding I think I'll uh just just make it as short as you can please being um whatever I don't like having to pay too much money for nothing but anyway oh I want to pay money for nothing you know get not much done anyway she did say to me we can have a guy doing a moment if you like and I said no please I was just joking and I'm not interested in getting a divorce just yet but anyway the changes changes is uh inevitable around about us and I just talked about a couple of incidental challenges but today I want to talk about is serious serious significant change and that's a change in somebody's life and and and the change that which we just had a bit of a glimpse at today is so significant in Saul or Paul's life that later on he wrote these words he said if anyone is in Christ he or she is a new creation a whole brand new beginning the old has passed away behold everything has become new and this was I just wonder where the Paul when he was writing that and the inspiration of the spirit may have even closed his eyes and thought back to this incident that we've just read about briefly and said yeah that's how it is the old has passed away I'm a new person in the Lord Jesus or another time he wrote to the church at Corinth and and if you turn with me to uh to 1 Corinthians chapter six he he wrote these words to the church in in Corinth he said this in verses verses 9 to 11. and um and we just want to mainly focus on the main part of it he said this in verse 9 do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God now would you to hear that very very clearly do you not know that the unrighteous people will not enter the kingdom of God that is if you don't belong to the Lord Jesus you have no place in God's family right now and as long as you remain outside of God's family you will never ever have a place in God's family that's for all eternity fight and Eternity is a long long time and he he write this what's he mean by unrighteous well he elaborated when when he wrote this to the church Corinth he says don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God will not be a part of God's family and he said this those include sexually immoral idolaters adulterers practicing homosexuality these greedy drunkards verbally abusive swindlers and he could have kept on going about that list in fact I know some of your stories most of you I don't know your story but I'd reckon this that in over all the years that I've been in Ministry which is which is a long time I've had all of those people and more in the congregations where I've been being a pastor and Paul write this these words and he says don't you know that none of these people will ever be a part of God's family but then he goes on and says this and and I want to read this from the from the uh Amplified version because it just really spells it out a bit clearer and says and such were some of you before you believed but you were Washed by the attaining sacrifice of Christ you were Sanctified set apart for God and made holy you were Justified declared free of guilt in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit of our God the source of the believer's new life and changed Behavior don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God and such were some of you but you were saved you Sanctified you're washed many years ago at home and received a phone call from one of the women in our church and she said David I've got to try to remember not to use her name but you you won't know her anyway she said David can you give me a verse in the Bible that tells me that I ought to stay with my husband now that's an interesting request isn't it and I said to a color by name and I said because I I know something of her story and I said are you in any danger I said oh no no I'm not in any danger she said sometimes my husband has a goat me with the kitchen knife but I'm no I'm not in any danger and I said you know I think we need to get together and have a bit of talk about this you know one time we were Uptown we had our one of our daughters who would have been high schooler in those days and we met this woman and her daughter who's adult met her Uptown and I'd never met the daughter before but um but I knew something of her story too because I knew this woman's story and um and uh so I met her and talked with her whatever and um met the daughter she seemed a very nice young lady and as you walked away I said to my daughter you know woman in the church here I know her daughter you know what she does for a job no I said well she's a prostitute her daughter's just faith you'll drop whatever I'll just tell you that part of the story because it gives you some idea of the life that this woman had what she had had and and she she finds and said it's a a verse in the Bible that tells my it tells me all to stay with my husband I said tell me more about this and she said well all the women in the church are telling me that I ought to leave him and I just feel God's telling me that I need to stay with him and I just want a verse in the Bible to assure me that I'm doing the right thing you know this this woman I can't remember all the details now because it's going back a long time but just just to look at her just the sort of life that she had lived meant that her body made her look her body looked like 20 or 30 years literally 20 or 30 years older than what she actually was and yet he was a woman who was a trophy of Grace who had along the line had met Jesus and they outwardly had gone through all of this and still going through so much of it foreign she could say the old has passed away behold what everything has become new it's become new and that woman had committed herself to pray for Anne and me in our ministry and I believe she did that right up until the day that she died you see God is in the people changing business and and most a lot of you I know some of you I know your story a lot of you I don't know sorry and I don't need to know don't want to know some of you I don't even know so I don't know your story and so when we look at this list of things I have no idea what you're going through or what you've been through but I want to assure you of this that meeting Jesus means a whole brand new beginning for you Nathaniel Gaston who wrote years and years ago he said said these words he said every saint has a past every sinner has a future I just think those words are just capture something of what we are talking about of course you know about Saint Augustine he um he was a rat bag before he met Jesus wine women and song literally running around and knew what he should be doing with God but he used to say pray to God will save me but not yet I just want to enjoy life a whole lot more had a mother who prayed for him without fail one day sitting out in the garden kids were over the fence playing this game and the game called was you know calling out take up and read take up and read and sitting on the table there was a Bible he picked up and he started reading but out of the passage that he was reading he gave his life to the Lord Jesus and Saint Augustine after the Apostle Paul is one of the most influential Christians in all of history see God's in the people changing business and I don't know what your past is I want to say this is it with God you've got a future and and Paul is the person Paul is the person who we've got his story here we've got this story here about the time when he met Jesus and what all this meant for him we're gonna have a quick look at it in um in three three levels in three stages before his conversion how he became a Christian and life since becoming a Christian you know that's what a test me our testimony ought to be structured and every one of you here who belong to the Lord Jesus ought to be able to tell your testimony say your testimony and there's the three areas which order you ought to cover if you don't know your testimony today today go home and write out your testimony so that if ever anybody asks you you've got the idea of what you're going to say but this is let's just have a look at this and we won't be spending too much time in the last one today because because uh we will be thinking about this for the next number of weeks as we continue through Acts but Paul's conversion is actually recorded three times in in the book of Acts we've read about it today in Acts chapter 9. in Acts chapter 22 he's going to be arrested and just as he's being arrested he says to the governor hey hang on a minute just before he arrest me can I talk to the crowd what's he do he gives his testimony and then later on in chapter 26 he's before King and gripper on trial again and uh and he says oh this is by the way this is what's happened to me and he shares his testimony again so there's those three accounts there but let's just have a quick look and we could look at other passages too we're limiting ourselves just to what's said about Soul or poor in the book of Acts and so this is what it was like before he became a Christian here are some of the things that we pick up I say this is it before there was a Paul there was a saw this is the old and the new in Acts chapter 7 at the end of Acts chapter 7 beginning of Chapter eight is sustaining as Stephen and it says at the end of chapter 7 all those who are stoning Stephen Place their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul and then in Acts chapter 8 verse 1 it says Saul gave approval to his death now sometimes we might think that Saul is just an innocent bystander just observing what's going on however some people say why is he standing there people throwing their clothes at his feet to him to look after and was he actually just giving approval or was he actually more than that who is passing sentence on Steve some people say that that here's this young man saw who was well maybe even more than giving approval that he was in charge of the stoning of Stephen and then later on it says about this in Acts chapter 8 verse 3. I like the way the living Bible reads this and I just read it this week in the living Bible it says Paul was like a wild man going everywhere to devastate the Believers I like that phrase It's like a wild man going everywhere to devastate the Believers in Acts chapter 8 verse 3 It also says this he dragged off men and and women husbands wives mums and dads he's dragging them off and putting them in prison in Acts chapter 9 and verse 1 which we started reading today it says this meanwhile Saul we're still breathing out murderous threats murderous threats against the Lord's disciples you get the picture of this man not the pleasant sort of man to to the Believers not the sort of man who we would feel comfortable with if he were to come in here today his ananiasis fear about did I hear God right and I've got to go and talk to this character but then we have this most unlikely conversion and and so we've got this character who is so against the church meets Jesus and his life is radically transformed you know what that encourages me says no one no one is too far away from God where God cannot just pull into their life and do something about it think about that family member who you think oh they'll never believe think about that neighbor think about the worst person think about politicians I say that because this is that we had a politician first church we were at was out in Ipswich like our our local member was Bill Hayden who at that time was an avowed atheist um the story went that when he was a young father that he took his children off to Sunday school and dropped off I think it was a daughter she ran across the road to go to Sunday school but hit by a car and was killed and he said if that's what God's like I never want to have anything to do with him so there's a valid atheist and whatever now I prayed for that man as I guess many many other people did the last I read which is a few years ago guess what he's found faith in Jesus it's recorded and it's something of his testimony of how he he found Jesus in later life at the end towards in his elderly years you see no one is beyond the reach of Jesus no one and it's important that we be praying for these fake so there's this Damascus Road and we see that there's this the heart of God is showing that he reaches people Way Beyond without hope you see when God talks here when Jesus talks him what's he say he says Saul Saul now it's less than 20 times in the whole of the Bible where God calls people two times Abraham Abraham Moses Moses remember David talking about his son Absalom my son Absalom it's when the name is repeated there's this sense of of intimacy of wanting to reach out and here's Jesus calling out Saul Saul say there's this God this God of love the Lord Jesus wanting to reach out to him and um and he says says this why are you persecuting Moon we need to understand this very clearly is that Saul was a god believer and he was elsewhere tells us how good a god believer he was and and he thought he was doing the right thing by God and going and destroying all of these people say he said God believed but just just misguided which also stands as a warning to us that there's just because somebody says though a god fear or whatever doesn't mean that they are a Christian I've come across people who look that would be really is that our Christian but you dig deeper and they're not so don't assume things but but go but the Lord Jesus calls him and says why are you persecuting me and what Paul didn't realize was this is that in persecuting these people in persecuting the church who is persecuting Jesus persecuting God and and that stands also as a warning hear this very clearly fake is that when we pick on the church just be careful picking on God picking on the Lord Jesus we're picking on his body we hear people it's one of the biggest groups around when it comes to religion is uh is is SNR spiritual but not religious people say they want to believe in Jesus but not the church doesn't work that way because the church is the body of Christ are we perfect absolutely not do we deserve some of the criticism absolutely we do do we need correcting of course we do but just be careful folk you pick on the church you take on the church you take on Jesus and so he says Saul saw this intimacy reaching out in love Saul saw why are you persecuting me who are you Lord and this interaction takes place you see it's all in the middle of the day the other passengers tell us it was around midday this light brighter than the sun Shone down on him he heard the voice speaking could understand it those with him heard the voice but couldn't understand what was being said but Jesus speaking to him in Aramaic his native language says this and says you're blind you go to Damascus go there and wait until you receive further instructions [Music] um what an amazing conversion so dramatic probably the most dramatic conversion that that I've ever heard about certainly one of the most dramatic I'm quite different from remember the Ethiopian eunuch last week out in the desert someone comes along and shares with him from Gideon's Bible or something found along the way who read and and comes to Faith this one's so different and he goes and he's taken his lead because he's now blind into into this street Straight Street in Damascus and he waits there and God speaks to ananos and says hey you know that guy is out to kill you you've got to go and talk to him he's waiting I've told him in a vision that you're going to come and see him ananias I know where they questioned God I certainly would have and I would have said please some confirmation or whatever but irrespective we don't need to know all those details also he knows this is that ananias obeyed Jesus and he got out from where he was and went in and he says to Saul this man is out to kill him brother Saul how precious is that brother Brothers Jesus has sent me to pray with you and whatever to tell you what it is to be a believer be filled with the spirit receive him and what did happen who gave his heart to Jesus they could see again what's the Bible tell us he got up and was baptized that's significant too you know you cannot help but read the book of Acts and see that pattern again and again on the day of Pentecost they believed and were baptized last week we read about the Ethiopian eunuch who believed and was baptized today we read about Paul who believed and was baptized and it just confirms again and again that baptism is the outward side of this inward charge yes I know people have different views of baptism and and I've studied those and tried to understand it but to me just the plain reading of the scripture this is what it's all about and Paul gets up the changed man and we know his story well from then Honors that after his conversion that he becomes a missionary he becomes an evangelist he becomes a church planter most of the New Testament was written by his hand under the inspiration of the spirit we're not going to go further into that because we're going to do more of this over the coming weeks as we continue in the book of Acts but isn't that an amazing testimony that um if somebody who was so far from God who who is the real trophy of Grace having their life changed you know it may be sitting beside you or maybe even you today or a trophy of Grace or maybe you're sitting here this morning you're saying well I'm really too bad that God cannot do anything with me folk we looked at Saul and said about this other woman the stories are just countless stories of how the Lord Jesus intervened in people's lives and changed them and here's such an unlikely conversion and today could be another unlikely conversion the Paul on the road to Damascus he could say in his testimony this is when I gave my heart to Jesus for some people today you might be able to say in the future it's the 12th of February 2023. in the cabocha Baptist Church where I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus how do you do that well it's as simple as the ABCD this is not the formula it's just one one way can go about it I want to admit you're a sinner don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God all of those things if you have not accepted the Lord Jesus the Bible tells everyone a sin you're the unrighteous you are not a part of God's family so admit that you're a sinner then believe everything that the Bible says about the Lord Jesus that he came he lived he died was raised from the dead when it's on the cross that he bore the punishment for your sin and for mine confess your need of the Lord Jesus in your life say I Need You Jesus I Need You I cannot do it alive and then declare that faith well openly Paul preached that also through baptism as well so I don't know where you are today I don't know your stories so I don't need to know but you need to know you need to know don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God will have nothing to do with the family of God and I dare say most of us the vast majority will be able to say and such will we but we've been washed we've been cleansed through the blood of Jesus we are members of God's family going to Bear our heads in a word of pray maybe God has spoke to you this morning maybe you've been had course to think maybe I'm not a Christian or I know I'm not a Christian as I listen to the story of Paul and these other folk I know I know I know I need the Lord Jesus in my life just pray in your own words surrendering your life to Jesus touching you on the shoulder tapping on the shoulder saying not saw sore but your name your name I want to come into your life to radically change you it's just a moment of quiet we can do business quietly in our hearts and in our minds with the Lord Jesus if this morning God spoken to you it's so be so good for you to share that with somebody or if you've still got questions then see Adrian or me a member of the church Council another Christian here leader who you know you have confidence in and just share with them that so today I gave my life to Jesus or I've still got these questions so that we might pray together or maybe this morning you've been challenged about baptism yes I do need to be baptized to talk to Adrian or someone about that as well father God you've heard our prayer today and just as so-called who are you Lord some of us might be even praying that others are saying I know you Jesus others are saying I Need You Jesus right now your word tells us that you honor those who honor you in the quietness of this moments we've done business with you you know our hearts in our thoughts and our mind you know what we've said to you and we find ourselves resting in that knowledge that you know you understand Your Love extends to us. Amen.