ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Verta Giddings was called home by her Lord May 18th, 2017. She was the Pastor of the Church of the Full Gospel for over 60 years at Sand Lake, Michigan. She was a gifted teacher and had a heart for reaching children. Her good notes on the book of Acts will continue to be printed.
Chapter 9:1-31 – Saul’s Conversion
The “yet” in V. 1 tells us that Saul was still hunting down believers in Jesus to have them put in prison – Acts 8:3. We wonder how he could still do this, when he saw the death of Stephen, and heard him say He saw Jesus at the right hand of God, and even talked with Him – Acts 7:55-60. It could be that those words of Stephen’s were really the pricks (a sting or a goad used to urge oxen on) the Lord used to keep reminding Saul that Jesus was Someone with Whom he had to deal.
Saul asked for and received his letters or orders from the leaders of the Jews, to hunt down believers in other cities, even Damascus in Syria – V. 2. A wonderful strange thing occurred as he came near Damascus. There shined round about him a light from heaven that was brighter than the noon-day sun. Saul fell to the earth, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Right away, Saul knew that voice came from heaven, so he said, “Who are you, Lord?” The answer, of course, was, “I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting” Jesus? Didn’t He die about 7 years ago, he must have thought. How could this be Jesus? Jesus knew Saul’s name and what he was doing. He also knew what was going on inside Saul. Jesus knew those questions and feelings Saul must have had. He told Saul it was hard for him to deal with those things – Vs. 3-5. Saul was really shaken and he asked the second question – “LORD, what will Thou have me to do?” Notice – Saul called Jesus, “Lord.” He recognized Him as being who Stephen said Jesus was. The answer was to arise and go into the city (of Damascus) and it would be told him there what to do – V. 6. It is interesting to note that the men who were with him could hear a voice, but didn’t know what was said, and they didn’t see what Saul saw, either – V. 7.
Saul arose from the earth, but when he opened his eyes, he found he couldn’t see – V. 8. It says in Acts 22:11 – that it was because of the glory of that light. They led him into Damascus. He was three days without being able to see, and he didn’t eat nor drink during that time – V. 9.
The Lord had a follower by the name of Ananias who lived in Damascus. He was told by the Lord to go and find Saul and minister unto him. He was told right where to find him. Isn’t it strange that he was on a street called, “Straight?” Before Saul was on a crooked street, now all was different. At first Ananias was afraid to go because he had heard how Saul had hunted down believers so they could be arrested. The Lord assured Ananias that something had happened to Saul, and he was different now. In fact, he was a chosen vessel. He would be greatly used of the Lord to tell the good news to Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Also he would suffer for Jesus’ sake – Vs. 10-16.
Aren’t you glad that God could trust this man Ananias to go to Saul? Sometimes the Lord may give you a job to do for Him. He may want you to tell someone about Jesus. It may be a a person you think would not listen. Go anyway, and you may be surprised at the way the Lord works “on both ends of the line,” so to speak.
Since Ananias obeyed, there were wonderful results. He called Saul, “Brother” since he had met Jesus when that light from heaven came. Right away Saul was able to see, was baptized, and received the Holy Ghost – Vs. 17-18. Then he started right out preaching about the very One he had before been against, announcing that Jesus is the Son of God. The ones who heard him were amazed at the difference in him – Vs. 19-21.
We might think that Stephen didn’t do much work for the Lord since he died so young, But just think of the influence he had on this man Saul. We will find out that later he was greatly used of the Lord, perhaps more than anyone has been since his time. Stephen’s life and testimony were not in vain.
Saul had to escape Damascus in a miraculous way because when he tried to reason with the Jews, some were out to kill him. He later visited Jerusalem and then returned to his home area in Tarsus. There was rest for the believers for awhile since this persecutor, Saul, had changed his ways – Vs. 22-31.
Continued next issue.