Paul’s Footsteps #8

Footsteps #8

The first four references to Saul in Acts trace his life as a persecutor of the early Christians. In the first reference, Saul stands guarding the clothes of the men who dragged Stephen off to death (Acts 7:58). Secondly, Acts 8:1 records that Saul gave consent to Stephen’s death – an act that led to his election as a member of the Sanhedrin council.

Thirdly, in Acts 8:3, Saul makes his diabolic move in Jerusalem, making ‘havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Fourthly, Acts 9:1 shows that Jerusalem was not enough to satisfy the young Pharisee’s oppression of the believers. Saul’s zeal for wiping out the church had propelled him to Damascus, where a sizable number of the followers of Jesus lived. His mission of death has now the seal of the High Priest in Jerusalem. For a time, Saul was a mighty instrument in the hands of satan to carry out his rebellion against the Son of God. Then came the blinding vision on the Damascus Rd.

Saul rose another man. He had fallen a proud, intolerant, persecuting Pharisee. He rose a humble-hearted, broken-hearted, penitent Christian. God had found him. His old life, his old self had been torn up by the roots. That’s conversion – this crisis can never pass over anyone without agonies and energies. Conversion is beholding the Messiah –as He is – a crucified, cursed of God, perfect substitute. At conversion, we become linked with His life, death, burial, and resurrection through Baptism. (Rom 6:1-4). That means a new life.

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Rom 6:1-4)

Jesus question to Saul (Acts.9:4) was evidence to him of His resurrection. It was also an indication of His identification with the church on earth. (C.f.Matt.25:34-45.) The obvious implication; harm done to the church – the bride of Christ (not a denomination) is harm done to Jesus Himself. Weak and defective though the church may be, it is still the object of God’s supreme regard on earth. Lay not your hands upon it (metaphorically speaking.) c.f. David’s refusal to harm King Saul, who was God’s anointed King at the time. 

“He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts.9:4)

“34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,a] you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.b] 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’” (Matt.25:34-45)

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