Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Man and His Message (Part 2)

SERMON:             GM15-044

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained &           Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (Jan 25, 2015)

SUBTITLE:        The Man and His Message (Part 2)

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 1: 1b-6; Acts 9

SUBJECT:          the apostle Paul

SUMMARY:       The conversion of Paul was a direct result of being chosen by God

SCHEME:           that Christians understand the ingredients that God used in the making of this great man of God

Our theme is: the apostle Paul

This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God

 Proposition:  God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans

Interrogatory Sentence:  What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul into the man who played such an important role in the life of the church?

Transitional Sentence: The passage before identifies four (4) ingredients that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church;

1.     The Childhood of Paul
2.     The Conversion of Paul
3.     The Credentials of Paul
4.     The Commission of Paul
The Man and His Message
 Acts 9; Selected Scriptures
(Part 2)


John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) wrote; “Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think... It is wounding work, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving... Where there is grafting there will always be a cutting, the graft must be let in with a wound; to stick it onto the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back or there will be no sap from root to branch. And this, I say, must be done by a wound, by a cut.”

Conversion is the foundational experience of Christian life. It involves the initiative of God's gracious effectual action which provokes a two-sided response. It primarily involves:

 1) The sovereign grace of God working faith in sinners toward Jesus Christ... and

 2) God's work in the granting of repentance from all known sin and the renouncing of all self-righteousness.

Conversion will always include an acknowledgment of woefully having fallen short of God's glory and holiness and confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the all-sufficient Savior and LORD, the sole means by whom one's sin can be atoned for and therefore the only way of salvation (John 14:6).

There is a curious problem today in the evangelical [and fundamental] world — one that poses sobering questions for the church and for the individual believer. The problem in brief is this: a great army of personal soul-winners has been mobilized to reach the populace for Christ. They are earnest, zealous, enthusiastic, and persuasive. 

To their credit it must be said that they are on the job. And it is one of the phenomena of our times that they rack up an astounding number of conversions. Everything so far seems to be on the plus side.

But the problem is this: The conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism. The capsule technique of soul winning has produced stillbirths.

What lies at the back of all this malpractice in bringing souls to the birth? Strangely enough it begins with the valid determination to preach the pure gospel of the grace of God. We want to keep the message simple — uncluttered by any suggestion that man can ever earn or deserve eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law. Therefore, the message is “only believe.”

From there the message is reduced to a concise formula. For instance, the evangelistic process is cut down to a few basic questions and answers, such as:

“Do you believe you are a sinner?” - “Yes.”

“Do you believe Christ died for sinners?” - “Yes.”

“Will you receive Him as your Savior?” - “Yes.”

“Then you are saved!” - “I am?” “Yes, the Bible says you are saved.”

But before we show just how presumptive and deceptive this formula actually is, let’s take a minute and…


Our theme continues to be: the apostle Paul; the man God chose

Our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God

 Proposition:  God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans

Interrogatory Sentence:  What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul into the man who played such an important role in the life of the church?

Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies four (4) ingredients that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church;

·        The Childhood of Paul
·        The Conversion of Paul
·        The Credentials of Paul
·        The Commission of Paul
Last time we met we began looking at the author of this letter. As we began our look at the author we discovered that it was a man, a man whom we know as Paul.

We were able to take make a close examination of this man by looking first at the childhood of Paul.

We tried to glean as much information as we could about his place of birth, which was Tarsus. We looked at the period of his birth and tried to narrow it down to about 5 BC to 5 AD. It is believed that he was born in at least the first 10 years of Christianity.

Unfortunately as we looked at his childhood we could not find any information about the parents of his birth and we had to surmise some thoughts that could very well have been accurate concerning his parents. Paul’s father was freeborn, a Pharisee, strict and orthodox in practice, and possibly a wealthy business owner.

We also were able to look at the pedigree of his birth. We saw that his Jewish name was Saul, and that his gentile or market name was Paul. We were able to see his pride of citizenship and how we was a free born citizen. As we looked at his pedigree we examined his Jewish background and preparation and we examined his preparation for Jewish life and manhood.

[Now, let’s move to the second ingredient identified in this passage and that is …]

2B Paul’s Conversion

Today and quite possibly next week I hope to provide you with some important distinctions and principles that are involved in the conversion of the apostle Paul. As we look at Paul’s conversion we are going to focus on biblical conversion and not on his subsequent commission to the ministry. That we will pick up in another message.

[As we begin I want you to take note, that…]
Paul’s conversion was not necessarily a cutting as you would think of when a plant is being cut to receive a graft. However Paul’s conversion was not a smooth, easy-going process either. Paul’s conversion was “wounding work.”
Therefore, do not be miss lead by easy presentations of the gospel or by quick, simple decisions.

The account of Paul’s conversion teaches us that…
God is able to convert the most unlikely of sinners rendering them fit to serve Him     
[As we examine Paul’s conversion, the first thing that we need to take into consideration is …]
1C Paul’s allegiance to Judaism
Before his conversion, Paul was a dedicated follower of the Jewish religion.
Paul passionately believed in the truths of the Old Testament. Paul was probably waiting on the arrival of the long promised Jewish Messiah. He resented this interloper named Jesus who had claimed to be the Messiah and had developed quite a following after himself.      
Remember, Paul had been taught by a very prominent Jewish leader. (Acts 5:34)
“Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people…” (Acts 5:34, NKJV)
So, Paul is a most unlikely candidate for conversion because he had such a passionate allegiance to the Judaism which he had been brought up in.
Regardless of whether a person is a passionate and committed Mormon, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Witch, Warlock, or an atheist, God has the ability to intersect their lives and convert them to Christ.
Never fail to share the gospel with someone because you might think they are too passionate or committed to their religion or beliefs. Your job is to share the gospel and be a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s job is to convert the unlikely in his timing.       
[As we continue to examine Paul’s conversion, the second thing we need to take into consideration is…]
2C Paul’s abhorrence of Jesus
[We see the abhorrence that Saul had for Jesus two ways. The first way we see this abhorrence is in…]
1D Saul’s Passion
Paul abhorred Jesus. Paul probably hated the claims made by Jesus as much or more than Jesus himself. Paul had probably never met Jesus. Paul also abhorred the followers of Jesus. Paul was zealous against those of the way. Paul hated those who were part of that movement.
Paul’s hatred of those “of the way” stemmed from the fact that he believed Christianity to be a false sect or false religion.  Paul believed it to be in direct conflict with Jewish traditions.
Paul’s persecution of the early believers was very deep and very dangerous, very passionate.
Look at the language used in verse 1:
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…
[Stop there for a minute]
Saul was still breathing threats and murder…
First – notice the word “still.”
This is a little Greek adverb. It describes the verb breathing. It is used to describe “of time or decree.”
We are not told how much time elapsed between the events of chapter six and verse 1 of chapter nine. It could be hours or more than likely a few days. The verse simply says “then.”
The important thing to note is whatever the time frame which has passed since the murder of Stephen, Saul is still or he is yet “breathing out” these threats and murderous intent.
He hasn’t diminished his zeal, or his passion to destroy the followers of Jesus. 
Remember, in chapter seven Saul taken a small part in the death of Stephen. (7:54-8:3)
First – Saul consented or agreed or approved, and possibly voted for Stephen’s death.
Second – the text says that Saul made havoc (maltreatment) of the church
Third – he dragged men and women into prison and locked them up
Saul was so driven by his religious zeal that he continued to “breathe out” threats and murderous thoughts and intents against the believers.
Next – notice the word “breathing”
Saul is still breathing -
This word literally means to breathe in or out, to inhale actually.
It was also used in a figurative sense meaning “to animate.”
Saul was “animated” by the threats and murderous intent he intended for any of those of the way that he came across.
This vehement anger, or passion against these believers was the “oxygen” that supplied “life” to Paul. This hatred and thoughts of vengeance drove him on
Illustration: Think of a puppet. The puppet is “lifeless. It can’t move or facilitate any action or activity on its own. It just sits motionless.
But, when you put your hand in the puppet and begin moving it around, you are actually animating it or giving it life. You can move the puppet up or down or around. You can make it talk or sing or even dance.
It is an object that you have “given life” to by animating it with your hand.
These murderous rages animated or gave life to Saul.
The Threats – were a menacing danger, a promise to hurt, kill, or harm, slaughter - Murder or to slay
So, first we see Paul’s passion – zealous, driven, and murderous. Now we will see the second way Saul abhorred Jesus, we see it in…
2D The Plans of Saul
Acts 9:2 – “…and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Saul wants permission to go after the men and women who had escaped from Jerusalem during the “havoc” that Saul had poured out on the church. He was probably after believers who went to Damascus in hopes of escaping from Saul’s clutches and diabolical plans.
The high priest, first of all was probably Caiaphas.
Second, he was the president of the Sanhedrin. He was actually the head of the Jewish state as far as internal affairs of Israel were concerned.
The High Priests orders were binding in or outside of Jerusalem. It seems they were binding outside of Israel.
Saul’s plans included getting “extradition” papers in order to capture and bring back the escapees who fled Jerusalem.
[The problem that Saul would soon face, is that man may make many plans with the fullest expectation of carrying them out, but God is sovereign and determines whether those plans are carried out or not.]
Something is about to happen to Saul. God is about to do an attitude adjustment on Saul.
In verse three we will examine…
3C Paul’s adjustment by Jehovah
[Let’s look at verse 3, I want you to notice four things about this “adjustment.”]
First of all, Saul has gotten his orders from the High Priest. He has begun and actually almost completed the 6- 8 day trip to Damascus. He had almost reached the city limits
“As he journeyed he came near Damascus…” “…and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.”
Secondly – he was blinded by a brilliant light.
22:6 reads – “…at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.”
26:13 says – “…I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, shinning around me and those who journeyed with me.”
What was that light that Saul saw? It was the glory of the resurrected and glorified Christ. This glory outshone the sun. Christ’s glory was far brighter than the light of the sun. It blinded Saul.
Saul received his first glimpse of the glory of Christ.
Thirdly – the very sight of this glory knocked Saul to the ground.
(vs.4) “Then he fell to the ground…”
For the record let me say this is the typical and expected response of someone who has seen the glorified Christ. They fall to the ground.
Saul was blinded by that glory for three days. He didn’t just get up and start skipping around with Jesus. Jesus didn’t come down from heaven and sit on his shoulder. He didn’t frolic with the Lord.
Fourth – Saul heard a voice. What is interesting to me is he heard the voice in the Hebrew language.
Saul – Saul – that was his Hebrew name.
Why are you persecuting me? Why are you pursing me?
Next, Saul responds to the question with a question of his own.
Look at verse 5; “Who are you Lord?”
Let’s stop here for a second.
Saul used the Greek word kurios, which means:
•        Supreme authority
•        Someone who controls, a controller
•        Title, respect given to a master or someone superior
It may be that at this moment Saul does not recognize Jesus. It is quite possible that Saul is simply recognizing him in a respectful and polite manner. Like we would say, Sir.
At the very least, Saul certainly recognized the voice that he heard as belonging to a heavenly messenger or being.
Vss. 4-5 show how convinced that Saul was that Christianity was false. But he came to know who it really was he was persecuting.
Jesus said, “I am Jesus…”” This response shattered Saul’s life. It changed him forever. Jesus was revealed to his soul, to his mind.
Think about this: 
Saul had been torturing, jailing, and sentencing to death men and women who followed “the way.”
Those very men and women had been witnessing or testifying to the fact that Jesus who had been crucified had been (what?) raised from the dead
This very Jesus was now reigning in heaven in a gloried state
And Now Saul was talking to this very Jesus.
When Saul recognized that this was Jesus, a resurrected and glorified Jesus what did he do?
“…trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what you want me to do?’…” (vs. 6)
Now, it seems Saul uses Lord not as a title of respect but as an acknowledgement of Jesus as the Lord of Lords in a salvific or saving way.
Saul was broken. Saul was humbled. At this point Saul was converted.
The most unlikely of sinners was now humbled and made a believer.
Saul, a Jew, a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, zealously animated by threats and murder; a most unlikely sinner, was converted and brought to saving faith by Jesus of Nazareth.
Of course we know what Jesus told him to do. He told Saul to:
                     Get up off of the road
                     Go into Damascus
                     And someone would tell him what to do.
So, Jehovah – God – adjusted Saul’s plans. We know that Saul went from being a persecutor of the believers to being an apostle to the Gentiles. He went from being animated by threats and murder to being animated by the grace of God.
The most important question that we need to ask ourselves at this point is…
What can we learn from Paul’s conversion?  What are the eternal spiritual lessons that you need to learn this morning? There are four important lessons to be learned from the conversion of Paul. You might want to write them down.
[The first lesson that we learn is that…]

God determined when Paul would be converted

We read in Galatians 1:15-16, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through his grace, to reveal is son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood.” (Galatians 1:15-16, NKJV)

“…when it pleased god…”

Paul’s conversion took place in God’s timing

This is extremely important because it underscores the sovereignty of God in and over the process of salvation in the life of sinners. True spiritual awakening never occurs when we want it to or desire to or even plan for it.

Read Ephesians 2:1-9

Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6

“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14, 15, NKJV)

We as sinners never determine when God chooses or is “pleased” to reveal His Son in us.

We are made alive when it pleases God and God causes the light to shine in the darkness of our hearts when it pleases him.

Listen, to preach that a man can come to Christ when he wants to come to Christ is not biblical. You do not nor cannot chose the time when you want to be saved.

John made that clear when he wrote, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44, NKJV)

It is even clearer in John 6:65, “No one can come to me unless it has been given to him of My Father.” (John 6:65, KJV)

No one can come to Jesus for salvation by their own initiative or their own desire. Jesus meant it.

Jesus revealed divine truth and exposed human error. Jesus revealed that God is sovereign in salvation and that God extends salvation to whom he wants and when he wants. Men cannot exercise “so called” free will to come to Jesus when they want, even at the end of a gospel presentation.

Why? Why won’t men come unless they get an “attitude adjustment” from God? Why won’t men come to Christ and why is that God must pursue them?

Men are unwilling to come to Christ. All sinners will choose sin and their own-self-interests rather than choose Christ.

Remember Jeremiah 17:9? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it…” (Jeremiah 17:9, (NKJV)

Because of the depth of sin and the bondage of sin no one apart from God’s grace will ever want to choose to turn to God. Sinners are not willing to come because they do not know the truth, nor can they, sinners do not want to embrace the truth, no can they until or unless they are enabled by God to do so.

John 3:8 also makes this very clear. “The wind blows where it wills.” (John 3:8)  The HS moves wherever he pleases. So, when it pleases God and where it pleases God, God sends his HS to bring about a conversion.

So, the first lesson, is that God chooses the timing of a sinner’s salvation. Don’t give up sharing the gospel with someone and don’t give up praying for someone. Don’t be discouraged because you could not get them to sign on the dotted line. God choose the timing.

[The second lesson we learn from Paul’s conversion is that…]

God is able to convert the most unlikely of sinners.
-salvation does not depend on the fallen state or condition of man

“But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13, NKJV)
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18, NKJV)

Who is the “of his own will he…” God of course!

-there is no sinner that is so sinful that God cannot save them.

Paul said, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

-salvation is not dependent upon merit/or points earned

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5, NKJV)

Do not avoid sharing the gospel with the vilest of sinner that you know or encounter. No human being is beyond the ability of God to save, if God has so desired and decreed to save them.

That means if you come in contact with a blasphemer, an idolater, a murderer, a fornicator, immoral, or even worse, God can save them if he chooses to.

So, God is able to convert the vilest of sinners.

[The third lesson that we learn is that…]

God revealed Jesus in Paul

This is very important and we may just stop right here with this lesson and pick the rest up next week. Let’s see how far we can get.

According to the apostle Paul, Jesus was not merely revealed to Paul by some external, or auditory, or even visual manner. Jesus was revealed in Paul!  What is the difference?

The difference is the essential difference between saving faith and an intellectual profession or mental acknowledgment of the truth. This is the inward effectual call of the HS.

This is the internal call of God, and it is just like the one Luke described in Acts when he said that God opened the heart of Lydia to believe. God opened Paul’s heart resulting in belief.

Paul was converted by the means of an overwhelming and supernatural revelation of Jesus to His Soul. This is the same thing that Jesus meant when he said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him. This is the same thing as when Jesus said, “No one can come to me except it has been granted him of my Father.”

So those who don’t come do not understand that they need to come, they are unwilling to come and they do not come because Christ has not been revealed in them as the means of salvation. This is why there are so many professors in the church today who think they are saved and profess a salvation experience with no effect in and on their lives.

Listen, we can learn several things from Paul’s conversion.

·        Paul was converted when it pleased God to convert Him
·        Paul was converted by God’s sovereign will not by his own free-will
·        Paul was converted when God chose to reveal Christ in him  (Paul)
·        Paul was converted because this divine revelation was effectual
·        Paul was converted because God chose to give understanding, perception to Paul

Our theme was: the apostle Paul; the man God chose

Our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God

 Proposition:  God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans 

[Well, let’s wrap this up, shall we?]

Paul's conversion on the Damascus road is perhaps the most famous record we possess of the way God can turn a person's life around physically, spiritually, emotionally, and morally.

The real conviction of the living Christ was not carried to the world by a book nor by a story. Men might allege that they had seen the risen Lord; but that was nothing until they themselves were known. The witness of the resurrection was not merely the word of Paul (as we see at Athens) nor even of the Eleven; it was the new power in life and death that the world saw in changed men. Men who had been truly converted!

How is it that some of us are converted, while our companions in sin are left to persevere in their godless career? Was there anything good in us that moved the heart of God to save us? God forbid that we should indulge the blasphemous thought! (Charles Spurgeon) 


  And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to take some time to study the conversion of the apostle Paul in order to see what true biblical conversion really is in order to have the peace of God knowing that your conversion is real.

Remember the Apostle Paul said in Acts 2:37-39…

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

(Acts 2:37-39, ESV)

Let’s pray! J

Benediction Blessing:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)

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