What are you able to remember about your conversion? Do you recall the date, time, place, circumstances and who shared the gospel with you if anyone did? Do you remember what happened? Are you able to share a salvation testimony with others? Is it necessary to be able to remember all these things? Yesterday we started looking at the man Saul who was steeped in Pharisaical legalism, seeking to destroy the church of God. By God’s electing grace, He saved Saul’s soul and changed his name to Paul, who became the greatest apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the most New Testament Books and in a away is the real father of missions, being used to reach souls and plant churches in Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia. Some material has been considered in other notes but it is worthwhile going over it again for context.
1) What constitutes an apostle? This is an important question because some today call themselves apostles. Are they the same as the apostles in the Bible? Luke who was the human author of Luke and Acts was a medical doctor by profession. As the Holy Spirit uses him to pen these two books you can easily see his professionalism, gentleness and care coming through. Yet perhaps more importantly is the thorough research he applied to obtain the best information from the best sources before putting pen to paper. In Acts we find he is an assistant to Paul. Look how he starts his two manuscripts …
Lk 1:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
What follows is the Work and Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ from the early pregnancy of Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother to almost the end of Jesus’ early ministry. One might even call this Book the Works of Jesus, the Son of God.
Ac 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
In this book we see a few days of Jesus’ ministry to the disciples until His Ascension. What then follows could either be called the Works of the Holy Spirit or as it is sometimes called, the Acts of the Apostles. Having briefly seen Luke’s intention, let return to the question … “What constitutes an apostle?” Luke tells us what discussions took place with regard to the eleven apostles choosing the replacement for Judas. Peter seems to have been the leader at that time. After he spoke using Scripture, calling for a replacement for Judas he stated
Ac 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Right here we fined the qualifications of an apostle.
(1) One who has been together with these eleven men all the time;
(2) From the time of John’s the Baptist;
(3) Until Jesus’ Ascension;
(4) Such a man would be able to witness to the resurrection … meaning the full gospel message.
Did Saul / Paul qualify? He was not there. He was not a disciple of Jesus. He had not participated in Jesus’ ministry. How did he become an apostle … and the greatest one at that? Let’s take a journey through what happened to answer that question.
2) Remember what Saul was doing.
Ac 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
Murderous threats against Christians to the point of getting letters from the highest religious leader (high priest) to make the followers of Christ prisoners of Judaism. One needs to understand him. He was indoctrinated in two ways.
(i) Correctly by Scripture. He was a true student of the Old Testament. He understood the doctrines and theology accurately.
(ii) Incorrectly by the teachers of the Law. They had deduced that Jesus and His followers were blaspheming against the God of Israel. He believed what came to be called Christian was wrong, evil and needed to be eradicated before it influenced more Jews to follow this man Jesus and turn from the ways of the fore-fathers.
(iii) His fervent passion and obsession to destroy the Church was based upon what he would have seen as false teaching.
Tomorrow we shall consider chapter 9 in more detail … but for now …
(A) If you are a Christian today, would you say you trust true Biblical Doctrine? It is easy to flavor the gospel with words that sound familiar and evangelical to make an audience see your Doctrines as truly Biblical. There was a prominent Church Leader in South Africa who was hated by many and love by many more. He was liberal but depending on the congregation and who the pastor was, he would preach that doctrine. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Your doctrine must be Bible based and proved to be so.
(B) Is your theology Biblical Theology? Are you able to trace Jesus from the first page to the last page of the Bible? Are you able to explain Christ from any passage in the Bible … or are you able to see Jesus fulfilling the Messianic requirements in the Bible?
(C) Do you have Gospel Clarity? Are you able to understand the Gospel, explaining it correctly? If not you might be on sinking sand!
Lord, help me to be true to the Bible and its message, loving its doctrines and theology so I may enjoy Gospel Clarity. Amen.