The day I was saved I knew without a doubt that God wanted me to be a pastor teacher. Literally nothing made sense any more other than being God’s servant, proclaiming the Word and the Gospel. It is not something that can be easily articulated because it is a spiritual matter that God writes on your heart by the Holy Spirit. I was six weeks old as a Christian when I preached my first sermon. It was crude and most likely filled with theological and doctrinal flaws … but I was doing what God wanted me to do … and I wanted to do it. I had lots to learn and more rough edges than most to trim off … but alI I could do was talk about Jesus and proclaim His Word. Look at our next passage in Acts:
Ac 9:19 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
1) No new Christian is theologically, doctrinally or practically astute. It takes time and discipleship. Jesus said in the Great Commission:
Mt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Greeks emphasis in these verses is not on “go” but on “make”. Make disciples … how? Verse 20 tells us that disciples are made through teaching people who have committed their lives to Jesus … and this teaching is “everything Jesus had taught the first followers”. Luke says Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. During this period they obviously explained the Law, Prophets and Writings that related to Jesus and Him being God’s Messiah to Saul. That is, they discipled him in the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood. But … this was only in part, for at some stage whilst in Damascus Paul explains what he did in preparation for his apostolic ministry:
Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. Gal 1:13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
He left Damascus for Arabia and returned to Damascus. Arabia normally refers to Saudi Arabia but in this case it was, being the first century, most likely referring to Nabatean Kingdom which was northeast of the Dead Sea. He says the purpose of this visit to the desert was … I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ … that is, he was taught the Gospel by Jesus in the desert. It is no good saying you are a Christian if you are not a disciple because being a disciple means you are shaped the way the Master (Jesus) wants you to be in the whole counsel of God. (See Matthew 28:20). May I cautiously say that far too many refuse discipleship to their detriment? You see, only those discipled can have full assurance of eternal salvation. Join a Bible Teaching Church. Go to Bible Study. Do the Growth Courses they offer … and if they don’t … ask them to do it. Should they refuse, find another place of worship.
2) The reversal of persecution.
Ac 9:20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God
One cannot be categorical and say the “at once” of verse 20 was immediately after the “few days” of verse 19. What we do know is that once Born Again he started to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God. Once the work of the Spirit was effective in Saul’s heart and life, he changed from a Pharisaical Maniac to a passionate Gospel Preacher. From trying to arrest followers of Jesus to have them tried by the high priest for religious treason and blasphemy to arresting hearts for Jesus and salvation. From being passionate to destroy the Church to being passion to grow the Church. From persecuting Jesus to him elevating Jesus to His rightful position as the Son of God. Now notice where he preached the Gospel! Right in the synagogues where he sought to rid them of Christianity. He went as it were right to into the Lion’s Den. Why are so many Christians so reluctant to share the Gospel? The first reason would be that they have not been discipled. There is a lack of understanding as to what they are required to do for the Lord Jesus as His people. The second reason is that they do not truly believe the Gospel’s power! The reason Saul could preach so passionately and so soon about Jesus is because:
Ro 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Why fear the enemy? Why fear your image? Why fear relationships with family and friends? Why fear losing your career or losing out on promotion? If the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, surely some of those we share the Gospel with shall believe and be saved! Maybe the question is … “Do I want them in heaven?” One thing I know is that God wants them forgiven and brought to heaven! May I be bold and ask you to read the following verse carefully?
Mk 8:38 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
The third reason relates, I believe to the depth of love one has for the Lord Jesus. One of the most passed over verses in the Gospels is:
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
You need to grasp these three matters … discipleship leads to not being ashamed of the Lord Jesus and His Gospel resulting in loving Him so passionately that you will willingly obey what He says and requires! Did you see where this started? Once truly saved, one shares the Gospel because you want others like you were to be saved as well.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Gospel. Help me to know it and understand it so that I may be able to share it with people I come into contact with. Perhaps You will reach out and save them. Amen.