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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Third Sunday After Easter
Series C

From Rev. Wayne Dobratz (Kelly is on Vacation).

Acts 9:1-20

Introduction: If you were to travel to Olney, England, you could read this
inscription on a tombstone: Here lies John Newton, Clerk, a libertine and
former slave trader, was by the rich mercy of God redeemed, regenerated,
forgiven and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.
Many people today would like to believe that human nature can be changed.
John Newton and Saul of Tarsus before him are ample proof that it can
happen. Let's examine the conversion of Saul to view THE POWER TO CHANGE.

I. The "before" picture.
A. Enmity against God-Col. 1:21
B. Persecution of God's people-Acts 8:1
C. Bloodshed-text, v. 1; Acts 22:4, 1 Cor. 15:9

II.  The "after" picture
A. Reconciliation--Col. 1:22-23, Rom. 5:10
B. Peace despite persecution-1 Cor. 4:12, 2 Cor. 4:8-9, 2 Tim. 3:12

III. The change agent
A. Jesus changed Saul on the Damascus road, text v. 5
B. Jesus gave Saul a new identity and a new life, text, v. 15
C. His Holy Spirit still changes lives today.
1. In the new birth-John 3:3-16, 1 Pet. 1:23
2. As in Jesus' story in Matt. 21:28-29
3. As with Abram in Gen. 12:1
4. As with Moses in Ex. 3:10ff

John MacArthur writes in MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Acts
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). (For a further discussion of the filling of the Spirit, see Ephesians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1986], 245ff.)

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).

Copyright 2001 Ministry Health, LLC
All Rights Reserved
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div. M.S.A., Director

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