ACTS CHAPTER NINE
God's two chosen vessels
Suggested Teaching Objectives:
To give a background on the Apostle Paul.
To teach how others can be saved and changed -- just like Saul.
To exhort pupils to be in touch with God so they can be used of the Lord as Stephen, Philip and Ananias were.
To show the importance of study in the work of God.
To teach that we are to speak boldly for Christ like Saul. Vs. 29
To inspire pupils to find their sphere and phase of service in which God wants them so they can be used as were Saul, Ananias, Peter and Dorcas.
INTRODUCTION: God used two individuals in an outstanding manner in the early days of the church. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19) and it was his privilege to be the first one to take the Gospel to the Jews (at Pentecost) and to the Gentiles (at Caesarea, Ch. 10). He was commissioned primarily to minister to the Jews. Galatians 2:7.
Paul was commissioned to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (9:15; Galatians 2:7) although he did minister to the Jews wherever he went. That God selected these two men for these jobs shows that He divides the work to be done among various individuals and so selects and empowers them for that work. Ephesians. 2:10; 1:1; I Corinthians. 15:8-10; Galatians. 1:1, 15-18; I Timothy. 1:1, 11-12; II Timothy. 1:19.
The fact that God commissioned these men to these tasks does not infer that God predetermined to save them. Whether or not a person is saved is determined by their own will (whosoever will). These men were saved of their own free will and then God who had predetermined their jobs (providing they were saved) commissioned them to their tasks.
We find both of these men in this chapter and some interesting things about both of them.
I. THE MADMAN -- Vs. 1-2
Saul was a Pharisee. He was from Tarsus, a city of Grecian culture. His parents were both Hebrews and it is believed that at the age of 14 he was sent by his parents to Jerusalem and was taught by the great teacher, Gamaliel. Saul hated the Christians because:
They called Jesus "the Messiah" and he thought the Messiah would sit on David's throne.
He believed in the Temple and Old Testament sacrifices and Christians said all this was out of date.
He was a proud, self-righteous son of Abraham and they told him he needed to be born again.
Saul had them scourged, imprisoned, exiled, divided homes and even voted for their deaths! His purpose in going to Damascus was to stamp out Christianity in that area.
II. THE MASTER -- Vs. 3-9
Vs. 3 -- The light was that which came forth from Him who is the Light of the World.
Vs. 4 -- The voice was Jesus'. When Christians are persecuted, Jesus is persecuted.
Vs. 5 -- "Kicking against the pricks": When stubborn oxen were used in plowing, sharp metal pricks were attached to the plow in such a way that when they would kick they would be wounded. Saul was being wounded as he persecuted the Christians. He was storing up wrath against the day of judgement but his conscience was continually being pricked, for the Holy Spirit was showing him that these Christians (such as Stephen) had something that he didn't.
Vs. 6 -- Saul called Him (the Master) -- "Lord". From henceforth Jesus would be his Lord. It was here that Saul was saved. Jesus had said in Matthew. 18:3 that "except ye come as a little child˙ " Saul came in just that way and was saved.
Vs. 7 -- The men heard the voice as a sound but did not hear the words articulated. CF. Acts 22:9; 26:14.
Vs. 8-9 -- As his Master-Saul was a man dead for 3 days and nights -- and then came forth a new creation. II Corinthians. 5:17; Galatians.2:20.
III. THE MESSENGER -- Vs. 10-16
Vs. 10 -- A disciple is a follower of the Lord. Ananias was a disciple and was living in such a manner that God could talk to him. He was listening for God's voice and directions, he was living a life of separation and devotion to God.
Vs. 11 -- Here is a good indication that Saul was already saved. God said he (Saul) was praying and that's real prayer. The only prayer an unsaved man can expect God to answer is "God be merciful to me a sinner."
Vs. 12-14 -- Ananias questions God's command. Do we ever do that?
Vs. 15 -- The Lord reassured Ananias that all was well and that He had a special job for Saul. Saul's job was to bear God's name before the Gentiles and kings and Jews and to suffer greatly for God. God's word teaches that we are to bear His Word to all the world. Acts 1:8; II Timothy 3:12; Romans 1:14. We are God's messengers, now.
IV. THE MERCY -- V.S. 17-19
Vs. 17 -- "Brother" Saul. He was already saved and was a Christian brother. John 1:11-12. Ananias gave Saul the message and Saul in willingly accepting God's will for his life was showing that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Vs. 18 -- Ananias then baptized him, probably by the authority of the church at Damascus.
Vs. 19 -- How long Saul dwelt at Damascus, immediately after his conversion, we aren't told; but these things that happened to Saul were all by the mercy of God. Titus 3:5.
V. THE MINISTER -- Vs. 20-31
Vs. 20 -- Saul, after his conversion, went to Arabia and there in the same area where He had prepared Moses and John the Baptist for their great ministries, God prepared and taught Saul.
Vs. 21-23 -- Saul was well prepared for his ministry. Having been raised in a Grecian Culture, he knew the thinking of the Sadducees well, as they were Helenistic Jews. Having been reared by strict Hebrew Parents, he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees and knew their thinking well, also. He was well educated, having studied under Gamaliel. Now, he had been taught by God for 3 years in Arabia. We all should take the task of serving God to heart and realized we need preparation. Apply this to school studies. Christians should be the best students in their school and in their willingness to learn and in their behavior.
Vs. 23-25 -- Saul's life soon became in danger but God protected him and he escaped. The Pharisees sought to slay him.
Vs. 26-28 -- Old Barnabas, the "Son of Consolation" came to Paul's aid and interceded before the other disciples on his behalf.
Vs. 29 -- Saul disputed with the Grecians, who were the Sadducees. They didn't believe in the resurrection but Saul had seen Jesus on the Damascus Road. I Corinthians 15:8. The Sadducees sought to slay him. All of Saul's old friends were gone now. When we get saved and start living for the Lord and try to convert our former friends, we soon lose almost all of our old friends; but we gain some greater ones.
Vs. 30 -- Saul returned to the town of his boyhood days and, no doubt, told them of Jesus.
Vs. 31 -- The churches -- note this is in the plural, not the church. Each local assembly was a church. These had rest from persecution, were strengthened, walked in the fear (respect and reverence) of the Lord, and depending on sustenance by the Holy Spirit, were multiplied. Our church should do likewise.
VI. MIRACLES -- Vs. 32-43
Now we study two miracles performed by Peter, another chosen vessel. He was given the keys to the kingdom and was to minister to Jews, mainly.
Vs. 33-34 -- The work was spreading and Peter was touring the various areas and as new territory was opened up, the work of the early disciples was confirmed by signs and miracles as Christ had promised. Mark 16:18-20. Peter saw that Christ was exalted in the healing and Jesus should be exalted in all that we do.
Vs. 35 -- A multitude was saved.
Vs. 36-38 -- Joppa was a seacoast town, nearby and a good woman, Dorcas (gazelle) had lived there. She had lived a great and useful life, although in an unheralded way.
Vs. 39 -- If you were to die today, would there be much that could be shown that you had done for others.
Vs. 40-41 -- Peter was used of the Lord to raise one from physical death. This is not done, today, but we can be used of the Lord to raise folks from the spiritually dead. Ephesians. 2:1.
Vs. 42-43 -- As a result of Peter's labors and faithful service, many believed in the Lord. I wonder if some are lost now and will be lost in eternity because you haven't sought God's will for your life and you're not letting God use you now as He would like?
CONCLUSION: Here were two chosen vessels that were obedient to their Lord's call and God used them greatly. God wants to use us if we would but let him.