The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the most dramatic and widely-known accounts in the New Testament. Paul vehemently hated Christians, yet when he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, his life was radically changed. While it may seem that Saul was transformed instantaneously, Alistair Begg explains that God’s grace was sovereignly working long before. The same grace that converted Saul is at work in our own lives, molding us into Christ’s image.
1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11And 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, 12and 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.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15But 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. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So 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.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
Contemporary churchgoers may find themselves considering the early days of the Christian church with fond nostalgia. However, in reading through Luke’s account in Acts, we find that the early Church was not a group of elite Christians. Instead, they wrestled with the very same challenges that face the twenty-first century Church today.
In this series, Alistair Begg traces a line from the first century Church to the twenty-first century Church by examining issues such as our alienation from God, our tendency to present a cheapened Gospel, the juxtaposition of divine predestination and human free will, our culture’s obsession with idolatry, and God's ultimate power to save. We learn that the early Christians devoted themselves to the teaching of God’s Word and the spreading of the Gospel by depending on the Holy Spirit, and we are encouraged to hold firmly to the truth of Christ’s saving work as we engage our communities.
|Two Sad Faces||Luke 24:1-53|
|Kingdom Thinking||Acts 2:1-21|
|The First Christian Sermon, Part One||Acts 2:14-23|
|The First Christian Sermon, Part Two||Acts 2:24-41|
|Evangelism Explosion, Part One||Acts 8:1-25|
|Evangelism Explosion, Part Two||Acts 8:1-25|
|Personal Evangelism||Acts 8:26-40|
|One Changed Life||Acts 9:1-18|
|City of Idols, Part One||Acts 17:16-23 Isaiah 44:16|
|City of Idols, Part Two||Acts 17:22-34|