Fervency in Speaking - Fearless in Suffering #6, 7

October 11, 2008 Acts 9:20-31

 

Feature #6:  Fervency in Speaking

Feature #7:  Fearless in Suffering

Paul’s conversion was a true transformation.

Acts 9 is the historical record of this amazing transformation and it serves as a model for when conversion today.

There are 7 Features of the truly transformed life.

  1. Faith in the Savior
  2. Fervent in Supplication
  3. Faithful in Service
  4. Filled with the Spirit
  5. Fellowship with the saints

Today we will look at the last two features

In verses 20 – 22 we find that Paul had a “Fervency in Speaking” the things of God and 23-31 we find that Paul was “Fearless in Suffering” for the cause of Christ.

We as believers need to mimic Paul in these last two features of the transformed life to live a life that is truly pleasing to God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Knowing full well that we will give an account before the judgement seat of Christ let us spur on students on to focus on the battle before us. There are lots of endeavors that can steal our attention in life; Martin Luther nails if for us as we look to motivate our students on to not miss the mark

fI profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that. point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.  And to be steady on all the battlefield (elsewhere), is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.  Martin Luther

Fervency in Speaking

And immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. (9:20–22)

  • Those transformed by the saving grace of God cannot stop speaking about it (Acts 4:20),

Acts 4:20for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

  • Saul was no exception. After a few days of fellowship with the saints, he immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues.
  • To the shocked Christians, surprised by his conversion, can be added the shocked Jews, who were expecting him to take Christians prisoner, not preach Jesus Christ in their synagogues.
  • From the beginning he felt that courageous compulsion that later caused him to exclaim,
    Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).
  • In the very synagogues to which he had come with warrants for the arrest of Christians, Saul now began to proclaim Jesus.
  • The content of that preaching was that Jesus is the Son of God, a title for our Lord that speaks of His deity

John 10:31-36 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

  • The shock and consternation Saul’s preaching produced is inconceivable for us.
  • The most zealous defender of Judaism now became the most zealous evangelist for Christianity.
  • Not surprisingly, all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” They could not comprehend the drastic change in Saul.
  • Far from wilting under the pressure of confusion turning into hostility, Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Like Stephen before him, he met the Jews in open debate about the deity and messiahship of Jesus. Saving faith “comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ”, Romans 10:17.

  • That Saul was confounding the Jews in this dialogue should surprise no one. He had the finest education first-century Judaism could offer, and they could not hope to match his knowledge of the Scripture.
  • Once he understood who Jesus was, he had the key that unlocked the whole Old Testament. He was then able to use his vast knowledge of those Scriptures and his Spirit-controlled brilliance, as well as the truth of Jesus’ miracles, words, death, and resurrection, to prove that this Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah.
  • Application

What is witnessing? – It is simply telling what you know.

Acts 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Whyshould we witness?

  1. Because it’s the only way people will come to know Christ.

John 14:6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

  1. Because we want to see the benefits of life with Christ passed on to others

Examples

John 6:35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 6:40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

  1. Because by sharing our faith we grow and mature

Read John 4:1 -34

Notice verse 32

John 4:32But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

What do you thing this food to eat is?

Verse 34 explains it to us.

John 4:34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

The conclusion is that there is something about witnessing to this woman that nourished and strengthened Jesus.

When we share our faith, we are nourished and strengthened in the same way.

What do I say?

  1. God loves every individual.

John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 4:13-14Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

  1. Every individual has sinned, severing fellowship with God and ultimately resulting in eternal separation.

Psalm 14:2-3The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  1. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty of sin on Himself, making reunion with God possible.

Romans 5:8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 1:5-7He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

1 Peter 3:18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

  1. The sacrifice of Jesus is applied to us individually as we respond by faith to God’s gift of love.

Romans 10:9-10that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

John 5:24“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Fearlessness in Suffering

And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. And they were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night, and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (9:23–31)

Luke’s phrase when many days had elapsed marked out a time period that is more specifically defined in the statement of Galatians 1:17–18: “

Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

  • In actuality, three years elapsed between verses 22 and 23. It is implied that Saul spent those years learning from the Lord in the kingdom of Nabatean Arabia.
  • (This is an area not to be confused with the territory of modern Arabia, but located from nearby Damascus south to the Sinai peninsula. Some historians say that a colony of Nabateans lived in Damascus.)
  • He returned and began preaching in Damascus more powerfully than ever, thoroughly exasperating the Jews who plotted together to do away with him.
  •  In God’s providence, their plot became known to Saul.
  • He noted in 2 Corinthians 11:32 that
    in Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me.
  • Apparently the Jews were not the only ones Saul had irritated.
  • During his three years in Nabatean Arabia, he had thoroughly preached the gospel and had worn out his welcome with both the Jews and the Arabs.
  • United in their desire to kill Saul, they were watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death.
  • The city was surrounded by a wall, and the only exit was through the gates.
  • The Christians, however, found another way out.
  • One of them evidently had access to a house on the city wall, so Saul’s disciples took him by night, and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
  • Having made good his escape, Saul went immediately to Jerusalem, and began trying to associate with the disciples.
  • They, understandably, were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. Saul must have seemed to them to be the quintessential wolf in sheep’s clothing, now trying to destroy from within what he had previously tried to destroy from without.
  • How long this impasse lasted is unknown, but the imperfect tense of the verb translated was trying suggests that repeated attempts by Saul to join the fellowship were rebuffed.
  • Finally, Barnabas (Called “Son of Encouragement” in Acts 4:36) took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
  • With the highly regarded Barnabas to vouch for him, Saul was finally accepted.
  • Having at last gained acceptance, Saul began moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.
  • Picking up where Stephen had left off, he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews.
  • Because of the intolerant attitude that he himself had done so much to initiate (cf. Acts 8:1),

Acts 8:1 Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

  • They turned on him immediately and began attempting to put him to death. The ways in which they attempted this action are not stated.
  • The church soon discovered that it was almost as bad having Saul with them as against them.
  • He quickly stirred up a hornet’s nest, and, no doubt in the minds of some, as much for their own good as his, they decided to send him home. According to Galatians 1:18, his stay lasted a mere fifteen days.

Galatians 1:18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

  • The brethren learned of the Hellenists’ plot, probably from Saul’s own vision recorded in Acts 22:17–21:

Acts 22:17-21 “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. ‘And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ “And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

  • For his own safety, they brought Saul down to Caesarea (The seaport on the Mediterranean) and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown in Cilicia.
  • Thus did Saul disappear from the scene for a few years.
  • During that period, however, he was far from idle.
  • Between this time and the time when Barnabas found him in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch (11:25–26), he was aggressively doing what the Lord had called him to do.

Acts 11:25-26And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

  • According to Galatians 1:21, he “went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.” At least some of the churches of that region mentioned in Acts 15:23

Acts 15:23and they sent this letter by them, “The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.

  •  must have been founded by him in those years.
  • With Saul the firebrand gone from the scene, both as the persecutor of the church and the chief target of the Christhaters, things quieted down in Palestine.
  • Luke again summarizes the progress of the church by stating that the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
  • Besides Saul’s departure, political changes contributed to the church’s temporary respite.
  • The ouster of the compliant Pilate as governor, coupled with the expansion of Herod Agrippa’s authority, restricted the Jews’ freedom of action. They were thus less able to carry out drastic measures against the church.

Applicatoin:

Many would-be followers of Jesus come to Him with dreams of greatness, which are good in their place. Jesus put down the disciples for arguing about which of them would be greatest, and told them that real greatness centers in being of service to others (Mark 9:33–35).

Mark 9:33-35They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

  • But in the will of God, greatness follows along behind suffering, often far behind. And if a man signs on with Jesus with greatness in mind, he better be aware that suffering comes first. Otherwise, the will of God may begin to look pretty undesirable to him after he’s been on the way a short time.
  • The Apostle Peter wrote, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect …” (1 Peter 5:10). Suffering is par for the course for Christians.
  • Paul said, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). These scars over here—these were not for me. They were for Jesus, but I took them for Him!
  • Are you willing to suffer for Him who suffered for you?
  • Are you willing to confront the world? That is the will of God.

One of the problems of evangelism today is that Christians are not willing to stand nose-to-nose with the world and tell it like it is concerning Jesus Christ. The Gospel is emasculated to accommodate everybody’s prejudice. We need boldness. It is sad that the boldness of Peter and John is far from what most of us experience in our lives. I pray to God that He will give us more boldness.

2 Timothy 3:12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Yet, “with all those persecutions I endured, Paul continued, I can say that out of them all the Lord delivered me!” He could proclaim with David, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19). He could say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us” (Dan. 3:17). Timothy knew God had delivered Paul, and that knowledge should have reinforced his own courage to stand against the apostate teachers and

persecutors.

Paul and Timothy were not exceptions, because all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. That also was Jesus’ promise. “If the world hates you,” He said, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. (John 15:18–21)

  • Self-centered Christians who serve the Lord halfheartedly seldom have to pay a price for their faith. They are of little threat to Satan’s work because they are of little benefit to Christ’s.
  • It is those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus [who] will be persecuted.
  • The faithful believer should expect persecution and suffering for Christ’s sake.
  • Not every godly believer will be maligned, imprisoned, tortured, or martyred for his faith.
  •  Even Paul did not face unrelieved mistreatment.
  • But all faithful believers should expect opposition from the world and realize that, when opposition becomes severe enough, they will suffer for their faith, just as did Paul and Timothy.