From Persecutor to Apostle

After The Resurrection
Sunday, May 19, 2019 – Pastor George Dupree
Saul of Tarsus
Persecutor Turned Apostle
 
Today we’re talking about Saul of Tarsus, a notoriously evil man who persecuted the Church but when he had an encounter with Jesus Himself everything changed and he became one of the most significant leaders in the Church. Today we’ll look at his conversion and one of his most wonderful teachings.
 
When Jesus touches you there will be big changes in your life.
 
Here’s the first mention of Saul of Tarsus.Acts 7:51“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did,so do you. 52Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
 
Acts 7:54  When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
 
Acts 7:57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
 
Acts 8:1Now Saul was consenting to his death.
 
 At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial,and made great lamentation over him.
 
Acts 8:3  As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
 
Acts 9:1Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
 
Acts 9:3  As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4Then he fell to the ground, and hea rd a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
 
Acts 9:5  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…
 
Because of this encounter with Jesus Saul has a conversion and turns from being a persecutor to a believer in Jesus.
 
After several years Saul, who is now called Paul goes from city to city preaching and teaching and establishing Churches.
 
It’s a beautiful thing to see unfold…the one who was a persecutor of Christians has now become one of the most influential leaders in the Christian Church.
 
For a time many people, including the Church leaders had their doubts about Paul and him sincerity but as time passed he earned their trust.
 
Sadly though there were people who should have celebrated this transformation but they didn’t. Some felt it was their job to be the Holy Spirit Police and demean Paul, accusing him of preaching the Gospel for human gain.
 
As he is writing to the Corinthian church he is going to address this situation.
 
2 Corinthians 10:3Forthough we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
 
In Ephesians he describes the war that we’re in
Ephesians 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
 
One takeaway from this is that when you’re going to walk with Jesus you’re going to have to walk by faith, not necessarily by logic.
 
Think of all of the things we read about in the Bible that don’t compute with our thinking.
Parting of the red Sea – God asked Moses what he had in his hand, it was just a stick but when he held it up, as God had said, it became s force to be reckoned with and the red Sea opened up and the children of Israel walked across on dry ground.
 
Jesus fed 5,000 men with a little boys lunch.
John 6:8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
 
Those things didn’t make sense but God did the miraculous anyway.
 
Another takeaway is that when people are giving you a hard time you need to realize that you’re not fighting against people, you’re in a spiritual battle. You’re not wrestling against flesh and blood but spiritual wickedness and you need to fight in the spirit.