WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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CALLED TO PREACH
(Only GOD can change hearts)
Before we can help a person to change, we must first show that person our love for them just as they are. In Acts chapter 9, verses 1-18, Luke gives us a vivid description, of the most famous, and perhaps, the most sweeping transformation of any human being in the annals of biblical literature. Here we see chronicled, the story of how Saul (the Apostle Paul) was converted by JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, one day on the road to Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and the capital of Syria.
Scripture tells us that Saul, who was apparently an important figure to the Libertines (a group of freed slaves who had converted to Judaism), was an arch-enemy of the Christians, who referred to themselves at that time as “Adherents of the way”. Remember the Libertines were the group that stoned Stephen to death back in Acts chapter 7, setting off a round of major persecutions against the followers of CHRIST in Jerusalem.
Saul embodied a deep hatred for this so-called sect of the Nazarenes that followed and promoted the ideology of JESUS, and, who were gaining much in popularity following HIS death at Golgotha. Little did Saul know at the time, that Stephen’s death at Jerusalem would be used by GOD to birth, and force the spread of Christianity throughout the world, and, that he, would become the face of that radical movement.
The strong preaching and teaching of the original Apostles of CHRIST, and other early Church leaders such as Barnabas, Philip, and the like, had catapulted the Christian doctrine of “Good News” into a legitimate threat against the powerful Church of Judaism at Jerusalem. The Gospel of CHRIST was swiftly becoming accepted by vastly increasing numbers of Jewish converts, who were formally associated with Judaism.
Here in Acts chapter 9, we find Saul, on a rampage, eager to destroy any of the followers of CHRIST who crossed his path. He goes to the High Priest and requests letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus asking their cooperation in the arrest of anyone proclaiming to be a follower of CHRIST that he found there. He wanted to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains to either, jail, beat, or stone them to death.
However, as Saul was nearing Damascus on this mission of hate, he is overcome by a brilliant light from Heaven, beaming down to the earth and causing him to fall to his knees in helpless wonderment. Suddenly the voice of JESUS rang out saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? When Saul asks, “who are you?” The voice replies, “I am JESUS, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The men with Saul also heard this voice, but they saw no one, and they all stood speechless in utter amazement. Saul, now blind, rises to his feet, and is led by his companions, into Damascus. He abided there for three days, fasting, going totally without food or water.
There was a believer in Damascus, by the name of Ananias, whom the LORD spoke to, in a vision. HE instructed Ananias to go over to “Straight Street”, the main thoroughfare in Damascus in those days, to the house of Judas, where Saul was residing. A protesting Ananias, who already knew of Saul’s exploits against the followers of CHRIST, is further instructed by JESUS to pray and lay hands on Saul, so that he would be healed of his blindness.
Ananias reluctantly goes and finds Saul and lays hands on him, as CHRIST had instructed him to do, and the scales fell from Saul’s eyes. Saul is then baptized, and remains in Damascus with the believers for a few days. After being baptized and filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, Saul immediately begins to preach about JESUS in the Synagogues saying, “JESUS truly is the SON of the LIVING GOD!”
After Saul’s conversion, he abided in Damascus preaching about CHRIST for a few more days, and all who heard him were amazed at his transformation of doctrine, and, his behavior (his sudden surrender to CHRIST). They could hardly believe that this was the same man who had once terrorized the “Adherents of the Way” (followers of CHRIST) every chance he got. As Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful and effective, the Jews in Damascus were no longer able to refute his proofs that JESUS truly was, and indeed is, the MESSIAH.
It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and then, becoming accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD. Getting to know CHRIST transforms our lives into something wonderful and new, and then, our commitment to that change, catapults us into everlasting freedom from Fear, Self, Other People, and finally, Sin. GOD is not willing that any should perish, and so HE, in HIS wonderful grace, offers this opportunity of change to all mankind, so that HIS grace and mercy towards us will win out over HIS judgment upon us.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website