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Acts #32 (chapter 9:20-31)
The Book of Acts
The Transformation of Saul (Part 2)
Acts 9:10–31
We began a couple of weeks ago, from Acts 9, a rather in depth look at the conversion and transformation of Saul, the persecutor of the church who is better known as Paul the Apostle. 
Before he encountered Christ on the Damascus Road, he was warring against Christ and the gospel and the church.  But after his conversion, he was warring against Satan and lies and deception and false religion.  Instead of destroying Christians, he is in an all out campaign to save sinners. 
He was totally and absolutely transformed.  As we saw in last week's study, there was an introduction to Christ, followed by a relationship with Christ, that begins a new ministry for Christ made possible by an empowerment from Christ and brings a new fellowship in Christ. 
And what I want us to see is what happened to Saul is the experience of every person who is born again through salvation.  What happened to him happens to each of us. 
Tonight, we pick up the story at verse 20 where we see the former persecutor of Christ now proclaims
6.  A Message about Christ
verses 20-22
Whatever you may believe about what happened to Saul on the Damascus Road, there is only one way to explain the change that takes place because of it.  Some say he fell off the horse and hit his head.  Some say he had some kind of physical experience that caused his blindness by looking at the sun. 
The problem with all those theories is that none of them explains the change in behavior that happens.  
Obviously, something more than falling off a horse or temporary blindness has happened that causes him to go to the very synagogues that gave him the authority to capture and execute Christians and preach a message of salvation in Jesus Christ. 
And notice, it happens "immediately".  It is an immediate transformation. That is a clear word used 35 times in the gospel of Mark to speak of the actions of Christ. Here is Saul with the same kind of immediacy and urgency. 
 Now keep in mind, he is a brand new convert, but he is also a highly educated man who sat at the feet of Gamaliel,, who was the most outstanding Jewish teacher in the world at that time.
He has mastered arguments against Christ.  He has mastered arguments against the gospel.  He has mastered arguments against Christian preachers and Christian testimony. 
He listened to Stephen’s entire masterpiece presenting and leading up from the Old Testament all the way to Christ, the Righteous One.  He understands it because he has argued against it and fought against it; and now that has totally reversed his opinion. 
He knows what he has said against it and how he has debated and argued and now he knows it’s true.  So he goes to the synagogues and there preached the Christ as the Son of God.
And he gets quite a reaction
verse 21
What in the world has happened to this man?  They are shocked at the sudden and total transformation.
verse 22
So how did he prove that Jesus was the Christ?  He proved it the only way it could be proved to a Jew  and that's with the Old Testament.  And immediately after his conversion, he goes out and starts talking about Jesus. 
And remember, he is an illustration of what should happen to all of us.  We have an introduction to Christ that brings a relationship with Christ and begins a ministry for Christ that is empowered from Christ and enjoys fellowship in Christ and sends us out with a message bout Christ.  But it also bring us to into confrontation with  
7.  The Enemy of Christ
Now before we talk about the enemy, let's look at the first phrase of
verse 23
"After many days were past. . ."
So how much time is included in this "many days"? Well, apparently it was quite a while.  The phrase indicates it was a considerable time.  According to the Jewish use of the word, it could be as much as three years. 
But we can be a little more specific if we look to some of the letters Paul wrote and establish a time line to help us. In fact, we can come up with a  pretty good estimate of how long it was. 
Listen to
Galatians 1:15-18
So when In Acts 9 where Luke uses the little phrase, "After many days were past", Paul says it was three years.
So what was going on for those three years?  According to what he says in Galatians 1, He was receiving revelation from the Lord. 
Look at verse 15 again. He says when God got ready to reveal His son to me, he didn't use flesh and blood.  Instead he sent me to Arabia where I stayed for three years and it was there during that time that God was downloading everything he wanted him to know about Jesus into the mind of Paul.
Then, after being in Arabia for three years, we find out in Galatians 1:17 that he returned to Damascus.  And we don't know how long he stayed in Damascus, but after being in Damascus, he goes to Jerusalem and discovers the Jews are plotting his death.
So why did they want him dead?  He's still preaching Jesus! So they hatch a plan to do away with him.
But their plot became known to Saul. 
verse 24
They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death.  They didn’t want him to get out of the city, they wanted to kill him.  So they watched the gate.  Paul talks about all of this in his second letter to the Corinthians at chapter 11, verse32.
All of that to say, Saul has not inherited some new enemies and they are the same enemies that killed Christ. 
verse 25
Ancient cities were surrounded by high wide walls for protection.  Actually, in many cases, those walls were actually houses and their windows were on the outside of the wall.  And in the dead of night, Saul was taken into one of those houses and lowered by way of a large basket to the ground outside whwere he escapes. 
So where did he go?  Well, according to verse 26, he went to Jerusalem.  But
verse 26
Remember, when the persecution broke out in the city of Jerusalem, believers were scattered everywhere, but not the apostles.  Chapter 8, verse 1 tels lus us they stayed. 
So now Saul is in a difficult place.  He old friends are now his enemies and his new friends won't have anything to do with him because they don't trust him. 
By the way, the word "tried" in verse 26 is in a tense that means he tried repeatedly.  Over and over, he tries to meet the apostles, and in particular Peter.  But over and over again, they refused to do that because over and over again, they were all afraid of him.  They didn’t know what had gone on for three years.  They were still afraid of him three years after his conversion. 
Until someone intervened. 
verse 27
Just to be clear, this is the testimony of Barnabas, not Saul.  Barnabas is speaking on his behalf.  In Damascus it was Ananias who cared for Paul.  And here in Jerusalem it is Barnabas, Son of Encouragement.
Obviously, Saul wants to do something to prove he's genuine.  He wants to be embraced and accepted.  So what can he do to validate his testimony?
verses 28-29
Again we find testimony of what happened in
Galatians 1:18
So for two weeks, 15 days, he spends time in the exclusive company of Peter and James. 
He spends that time arguing with the Hellenistic Jews, who try to kill him.  When he left Jerusalem three years, it was to go kill Christians.  When he comes back, the same people that sent him now want to kill him.
verse 30
So Saul goes back home and we lose sight of him for a few chapters.  What we will alter discover is he is preaching the gospel and planting churches in the time we are away from his story.
verse 31
Why did it enjoy peace?  Because it’s arch enemy, the former persecutor of the church is now its friend. He was introduced to Christ and it forever changed, not only his life, but the life of the church and the life of the world.  His relationship with Christ, his ministry and empowerment, his fellowship and message, and even his enemies are a testimony to the power of God to change lives. 
And wonder of wonder, what God did for and through Saul, he does for us also.
Let's pray.
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