Read - Acts 9v1-9
Message - Scott Woodburn
The majority of the names of those who have been murdered for their faith in Christ are known only to the Lord and yet it is a tragic statistic that even in this so called "enlightened" age, Christians still lose their lives for the sake of Christ. While it has been a long time since we've seen such danger on these shores, try being a Christian today in North Korea or Saudi Arabia and you'll realise that danger comes quickly. Try converting from Islam in certain parts of the world today and you'll see the enemy rage.
It has always been this way. Saul approved of Stephen's murder and in chapter nine is still breathing threats and murder against the church of Christ (v1). Indeed Saul's rage is such that he wants the persecution to spread to Damascus so that any Christians found there can be brought back to Jerusalem (v2). The hatred of Christ's church is Satanic in origin. He knows his time is short and so he seeks to do as much damage to the church as he possibly can (Revelation 12v12). Unfortunately sinful humanity plays an all too willing part in the persecution of the church. Is there any hope for those who seek to kill Christ's bride? Thankfully, yes.
The change in Saul will be remarkable. He makes his way to Damascus but is stopped in his tracks by a light from heaven (v3). Saul falls to the ground and soon hears the voice of Christ (v5) who asks him "Why are you persecuting me?" (v4). Those with Saul are speechless, they hear the voice but don't see anyone (v7). Yet Saul, at Christ's command (v6), gets up of the ground and makes his way to Damascus. He has been blinded by his experience (v8) and sees nothing for three days (v9) but as we well know, Saul's life has been dramatically changed.
How can someone who hates Christ suddenly follow His every word? How can someone who has approved the murder of Christ's people suddenly spend his life building the church? How can a man like Saul suddenly become Paul? The answer? When Christ irresistibly calls, sinners fall before Him. The Gospel is for all who will believe and thankfully the Lord doesn't take into account our past misdeeds. If your salvation depended upon your previous actions then I humbly suggest that neither you nor I would be saved.
But the Gospel is for those who are sick, not healthy. It is for liars and murderers and adulterers and gossips and idolaters and racists and terrorists and wife beaters and "good" people and church goers and church refusers and church dividers and atheists. It is for every sinful sinner imaginable. The Gospel is all of grace and it is all of Jesus. Nations may try to keep the Gospel out and people may try to close their ears, but the Gospel wind blows where it wishes and all of those elected unto salvation will be called and will be saved.
Saul makes no protest. He offers no argument against Christ. He doesn't rage in the face of Jesus. He has met the Lord whose call cannot be denied and Saul's life will never be the same again. Brothers and sisters, do not shrink in the face of your opponents and do not despair when your friends and enemies reject Christ. If you ever find yourself wondering "who then can be saved?", remember, "What is impossible with man is possible with God." (Luke 18v27)
Q1 What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.