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Acts #31 (chapter 9:10-19)
The Book of Acts
The Transformation of Saul
Acts 9:10–19
 
Last week we looked at the details of the conversion of the self-proclaimed worst sinner who ever lived.  He lived for one purpose, and that was to kill Christians and stop the spread of the Christian faith until he had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.
 
No doubt about it, Saul was a bad man, but his life was radically and totally transformed. 
 
We read about that transformation in
 
Acts 9:10-19
 
The story is full of miracles.  There is the initial miracle appearance of Jesus on the Road to Damascus, followed by a miraculous word from the Lord to a man named Ananias in a vision, and yet another vision given to blind Saul introducing him to Ananias.  It is a supernatural event, a conversion i some ways, like no other conversion.  There is nothing else in Scripture that is similar. 
 
And the result is this man named Saul, from that day forward, is completely transformed.  This murderous, Christ-hating, Christian-hating killer is totally transformed. 
 
Now, while his chapter in Acts gives us an initial picture of that transformation, it also provides some parallels to our own experience and conversion. 
While it is unique and different from anything else we read, it is also amazing like what happens every time someone is saved.  Not only does everyone get saved in the same way, the same changes take place as a result of salvation. 
 
So what happened to Saul after that initial encounter with Jesus is an illustration of what happens in the life of every believer.  So let's take a look at what it says, not only about him, but about us.  And what we are looking for is the evidence of a transformed life.  It begins with  
 
1.  An Introduction to Christ
 
We won't take the time to go back and look the details of the first 9 verse, but there we saw that Saul came face to face with Jesus and by the time it was over, he had changed his mind about Jesus.  The biblical word for that is repentance. 
 
And Saul, being familiar with the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel, even though just a few minutes earlier absolutely and completely rejected the those claims, by the time the encounter is over, he is laying in the dirt calling Jesus "Lord".
 
He made a confession that Christ was everything that he had heard these Christians say he was, and that Stephen had said he was.  And here on the Damascus Road, he is brought to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. 
 
And that is where the transformation of any life begins.  It begins with an understanding of the gospel and a confession of Jesus as Lord. 
And as Paul would later write, “If any man be in Christ he’s a new creation,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.  So if you’re looking for a changed life, it always begins by meeting the Lord, and then immediately becoming obedient to His Lordship. 
 
By the way, we see the same thing illustrated in the life of Ananias in
 
verses 10-12 
 
So you tell me:  which was harder to do?  Was it harder for Saul, the Jewish Christian killer to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ  OR was it harder for the Christian Ananias to be obedient to God and go find and minster to Saul? 
 
Both are amazing testimonies to the power of God.  And in both men, we find them acknowledging Jesus as Lord. 
 
So our transformation, as Saul's, always begins with an introduction to Christ that results in
 
2.  A Relationship with Christ
 
As we read, God sends Ananias to find Saul and he gives him very specific instruction about where to go.   And notice, in particular, verse 12, he tells Ananias that Saul will be praying. 
 
Let's think about that for a moment.  What happened?  How does a man go from begin a terrorist who is killing Christians to a man of a prayer? 
 
I'll tell you how it happened.  He got saved and the initial response to conversion is to want to spend time with God.  When a baby is born, a baby immediately draws in air to live.  You don’t have to teach a baby to breathe, they will do that automatically.  And prayer is like spiritual breathing. 
 
The first thing that happens when Saul meets the Lord Jesus Christ is that he now lives in the presence of God, and it’s like pressure on his spiritual lungs, and he takes it in.  As air envelopes our bodies, as air pressure seeks to enter in, it is harder to hold your breath and to breathe.
 
So it is for a new believer.  As a newborn infant, he is crying out to God.  He used to pray the prayers of a Pharisee.  He used to pray the legalistic prayers of one who thought he was righteous in his own way and on his own merit.  But now he prays in blind, helpless dependency.  He’s trying to sort out what just happened to him.  The fire-breather has lost his fury and this transformed life is crying out to God. 
 
For the Christian, prayer is the breath of the new life.  Prayer is simply the soul of a Christian moving under the pressure of the presence of God.  Prayer is the most natural thing, the most inevitable thing, the most immediate thing.  You don’t need a manual.  In fact, I think it is true that Christians more likely unlearn prayer than they learn it.  It’s so natural at the beginning.
 
He cries out to his new Lord.  Everything in his life has changed.  Everything else that he once knew is now, he says in Philippians 3, manure. 
 
 
And by the way, keep in mind that prayer is not a one-sided conversation.  Not only is Saul "praying" in that he is talking, but he is also listening and learning and soaking in the presence and teachings of Jesus. 
 
Third thing:  A transformed life not only has an introduction to Christ and a relationship with Christ, but it soon learns there it expresses a
 
3.  Ministry for Christ
 
verses 13-15
 
Obviously, Ananias is hesitant to go to Saul.  But God instructs him to go because God has chosen him to become a preacher of the very message he was trying to stop. 
 
In other words, God says, "I've called him to the ministry and you are the one who's going to tell him that.  And specifically and uniquely sets him apart as an apostle and missionary.
 
And with the honor will come the cost.
 
verse 16
 
The one who caused others to suffer will suffer himself.  Read through 2 Corinthians sometime, and you will find him referring to his suffering.  He tells of how he was labor and imprisonment, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 
I’ve been on frequent journey, in dangers from rivers and robbers, and countrymen, and Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, on the sea among false brethren.  I’ve been labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And apart from the external things, there’s the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”  His whole was a life of suffering, and he ended up a martyr.
 
So here’s Saul.  He doesn’t know what’s hit him.  His whole life is turned completely upside-down.  He is now a believer in the One he persecuted.  He is now confessed Him as Lord.  He is now acting in obedience to Him.  He is helpless and blind, and waiting for whatever it is that God has next for him.
 
The vision is conveyed to him that a man is coming, and that man is going to meet him, and he’s going to lay his hands on him, and he’s going to regain his sight.  And then that man is going to declare to him that he is a chosen vessel to preach the gospel, the very gospel that he had persecuted. 
 
This is an amazing transformation, and it’s the same transformation that happens to us.  First, we have an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by a new communion with the living God, a new life of prayer and communion with Him, followed by a life of willing service. 
 
And then notice, this transformed life includes
 
4.  Empowerment from Christ
 
verse 17
 
He can’t do what he’s called to do without the Holy Spirit, and neither can we. The ministry to which we are called requires the power of the Holy Spirit.  Is that not what Jesus meant when he said what he did in Acts 1:8?
 
Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit.  So what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It simply means to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.  How do you come under the control of the Holy Spirit?  By submitting to His will.  Not something mystical or ecstatic.  It is simply submitting to His will.
 
And when God transforms the life of Saul, as he does us, he begins with a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that results in a brand new relationship and communion that calls us to be doing His work and ministry.  And the good news is, God equips and empowers us to do what He calls us to do. 
 
One final thing I want to point out.  This transformed life is marked by an introduction to Christ, a relationship with Christ, ministry for Christ, empowerment by Christ and finally,
 
5. Fellowship in Christ
 
verse 17
 
Obviously, something remarkable has happened for Ananias to refer to Saul as "Brother Saul.”
 
That tells me that this Christ-initiated transformation creates a drastic change in relationships.  Christians used to run from this man; now they run to him.  They feared him; now they grow to love him. 
Genuine transformation places a person in a new family, in new relationships and a new fellowship.
 
Not only is there a new relationship with Christ, there are new relationships with all other believers.  This is what John is saying in 1 John 1 in that magnificent language where he says, “This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sins.  If you have been cleansed, you’re in the fellowship.  We are one body, one family, one fellowship.
 
“Brother Saul,” I love that.  “Brother Saul.”  It was that fast a new fellowship, a new family.  And so only the transformation that Christ brings can so dramatically alter a person’s life.
 
So how did Saul respond to this transformation?
 
verses 18-19
 
What does baptism symbolize?  Our burial, and the death of Christ, and our resurrection to newness of life in Christ.  But also, it symbolizes our union with all other believers. Baptism not only symbolized his personal burial with Christ and resurrection in Christ, but it symbolized his union with the fellowship.  And they took care of him; they fed him; he was strengthened.  Apparently, Ananias baptized him.  What an amazing thing.  He has a new family.
 
The end of verse 19: “Now for several days, He was with the disciples who were at Damascus.  For several days, He was with the disciples who were at Damascus.”  And he wasn’t putting them chains, and He wasn’t binding them, and he wasn’t hauling them off to prison – all new relationships.
 
This is a real transformation, everything is new: a new Lord and Master, a new life, a new power, a new family.  Everything is new as it was for Paul. 
 
Even a new mission.  And we’ll see this next time, a new message, new message.  But we’ll pick that up in verse 20. 
 
Let’s pray.
 
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