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October 11, 2015
“Saul Preaches Christ!”
Uniform Series: “A Dynamic New Witness”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
Jesus gives us a glimpse of what it’s like in heaven when a soul turns from the path of evil toward God. He said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance,” (Luke 15:7).
There is no specification of an acceptable sinner in His eyes. Heaven rejoices over any sinner with no respecter of persons. The worst possible person in the world, one that man thinks should perish for all eternity, has a chance with God if he/she will repent. Not only that, but it is noted that God will joy over that one that turns to Him.
God doesn’t have to do a background check to see if one is “acceptable” or not; He already knows it all. His criterion is looking for changed hearts and changed lives.
You’d be surprised who God can use. We don’t have the perception that He does. Those who we may think aren’t worth it, in them, God sees value. Our job is to not count people out (as noted in a previous published article):
“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15
“We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and oh, do we feel like walking out on them, never to return again. Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs. Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out. It doesn’t.
I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another. In our humanness we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause. Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.
When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem. Jerusalem was home base. Jerusalem was where everything started. He wanted the people “at home” to have first shot of this powerful saving message. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost, and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred. Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing. It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (KJV).
That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you. You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.
It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19, KJV), then to make disciples out of those closest to us. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (KJV). You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them. But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?
Your patience and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor. “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” What if God had given up on us? Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities,” (KJV). We deserved the worst, but God saved us and gave us the best. He did not give up on us!
I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was as the young people say, “A hot mess!” I was “tore up from the floor up,” and any other thing that can be applied. I was a sinner. My life was not right. I was not born a Christian and neither were you. God has been very patient with us and we should return the favor.
It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either. We may have to distance ourselves for a little time, but our love and compassion, and our desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.” People need you today; don’t count them out. Exhort one another in love. We need each other so badly to make it through. Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.” (©Word For Life Says/Don’t Count People Out)
Don’t count anybody out because you never know what God is going to do in that life as seen here in today’s lesson.
Nobody would have ever thought to have written the Apostle Paul off. After all, he became one of the world’s greatest missionaries, church planters, and wrote most of the New Testament. But Paul wasn’t always Paul. He had a less than stellar past that would have disqualified him for this work in the eyes of man.
But, God . . .
God had a plan for the life of Saul that was dramatic, radical, and life changing for not only him, but for many people to come.
Acts 9:18-19 “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.”
“I have heard by many of this man,” Ananias spoke before God, “how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem,” (Acts 9:13, emphasis mine).
Ananias couldn’t believe his ears. God wanted him to go a great enemy of theirs, one who is known for the persecutions many have endured, and lay hands on him that his sight might be restored? (Acts 9:12). This seemed utterly inconceivable to him that God would even want to touch a life such as his; yet. . . He did.
As stated in the lesson introduction, God already knew Saul’s background. He also knew of the heinous crimes against him for the persecution of those who professed Jesus Christ. He knew that he was present and consenting when Stephen was murdered (Acts 8:1). And, He knew the reason Saul ended up in Damascus this day (to inflict more pain on His people).
Saul, on his way to confront and imprison more of those who professed “this way” (Acts 9:2), became confronted and captured spiritually himself by the Lord Jesus Christ (read Acts 9:3-8) and was sent to Damascus to await further instructions.
God had a plan for his life and Ananias would be the first to step in and help lead Saul, God’s “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15), in his first steps of faith.
Fasting and praying, Saul awaited Ananias’ arrival. When Ananias entered the house where Saul was staying, he put his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightiest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 9:17).
“And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith.” Amazing grace took over. He that was blind can now see. This was just the beginning of changes that would take place in the life of this new convert. He had been loosed from whatever covered him from seeing both naturally and spiritually. This was a new day of freedom for Saul as “he received sight.”
He “arose, and was baptized.” As noted in last week’s lesson, “baptism symbolized the shedding off of the old life and the taking on of the new; it stood for the remission of their sins (see Acts 2:38).” To this, Saul submitted to and in that, he also identified himself with those of Christ. And, after being three days without food or water, Saul “received meat, he was strengthed.”
Then, he remained in fellowship and under the tutelage “certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.” Learning discipleship is very important to a new convert. Fellowshipping with other saints who have walked this path before can strengthen and edify a new believer in their walk with Christ. It can help steer them from the old habitual past whilst learning this new way of living and doing things. It is where we learn to provoke one another to good works and exhorting one another (see Hebrews 10:24-25). It is in this realm of being with others that are like-minded in their faith that one can be nourished and grow in their faith as well. (Here, I just touched a little bit of discipleship. This is really a subject that is expansive and needs to be taught in depth separately.)
Acts 9:20 “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
What a dramatic change that has taken place in Saul’s life; not only with his conversion, but what he does with it. He came to Damascus to destroy any who speak in the name of Christ, now he himself is proclaiming that “he is the Son of God.”
If I were a betting person (which I am not, it’s just an expression), I would wager that nobody there saw that coming. Nobody would have expected the hunter to become the preacher; the persecutor to become the testifier of all that Jesus is in his life. But, this is exactly what God was doing in his life.
When he met Jesus on that road his life changed and would never be the same again. Now, he stands trying to draw men to Christ instead of to the prison house for proclaiming Christ.
This is what a true encounter with Jesus Christ can do for a lost soul who seeks Him. When he stood “trembling and astonished” before Jesus on that road he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do,” (Acts 9:6)? In that question, he was submitting himself to follow His lead in his life.
Acts 9:21-22 “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
Some will be “amazed,” but some will be filled with disbelief and hatred that God is working in this changed life. It is easier for people to remember who you are and your past littered with sin then to see future potential in you in Christ Jesus.
Nevertheless, Saul was a changed man, despite what the crowds thought of him. Not just changed, but he was making a difference already for the kingdom of God. His ministry “increased” rapidly, and fervently he stood in the synagogues “and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
His testimony was strong. Many people were paying attention to what he had to say. Did he testify of meeting Christ on the road? Did he relay and tie in the story of how he was once blind and now he sees with the plan of salvation through Christ? The only specifics we are afforded on the messages he delivered is “he preached Christ!” (Acts 9:20) and everything he spoke was to the “proving that this is very Christ.” This was the message that enraged and “confounded” the Jews here in Damascus.
He became a bold witness for Jesus! He held within his heart the greatest treasure known to man: a way to be saved from sin and eternal death. It was found through Jesus Christ and he wanted everybody and anybody who would listen to hear about it. He knows personally all He has done for him in his life and he wants others to know Him in the same capacity for their own selves as well.
Saul preaches Christ!
Acts 9:23-25 “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.”
The intents of those who didn’t want Saul preaching Jesus is made very clear twice here in the above verses. They wanted to “kill him!” The tables have turned full circle for Saul. The former persecutor is now feeling the hands of persecution himself. The former cohort of the “Jews” now finds himself on the run to save his life from their very hands.
What God spoke to Ananias is beginning its course in Saul’s life: “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake,” (Acts 9:16). Throughout his future ministry this will unravel more and more exposing the lengths of suffering he would endure for Jesus Christ.
But for now, this plan of the enemy will not succeed. God made “known” their plot and Saul became privy to their schemes of how “they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” This will not be the last time a plot of this nature will be formed against Saul/Paul (see Acts 9:28-30 – today’s lesson; Acts 13:50, 14:5-6, 16:22 just to name a few).
God made this plot “known” to spare Saul’s life. God was going to use this man of God to “bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,” (Acts 9:15). He may have escaped with his life this time, but there will be others times as noted in the above reference verses that the then Paul would feel the pain of persecution in a very real way.
But, God was with him and with us through it all. Sometimes people do not escape persecution or its ravaging affects. We are told that we must “through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22). The comfort for us and Saul/Paul is found in knowing that He is with us through it all. Jesus once said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
For now, with their plans known, “the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” Similar to the window on the wall Rahab used in Jericho to allow the spies to escape (Joshua 2:15), the disciples used an unconventional method to get Saul out of the city safely by lowering him in a “basket.”
God literally made a way of escape.
Acts 9:26-28 “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”
Saul’s reputation preceded him in Jerusalem. As it well should for this is where he first began his persecutions (remember what Ananias spoke before God how he heard of the evil Saul did to the saints in Jerusalem – see Acts 9:13).
Though a conversion has taken place and some time had passed (3 years – see Galatians 1:17-18), the people still remembered the former Saul and were “afraid of him.” Had it not been for the intervention of “Barnabas” Saul would have had an even harder time of trying to get close to the disciples there (to find out more about Barnabas refer back to our previous lesson: “Sharing All Things!” here on wordforlifesays.com).
We all need a Barnabas in our Christian journey; a mentor and a fellow disciple who would not only introduce us to others, but will nourish our new walk in Christ. One who will pray with us and for us; one who will invest personally in the new life that needs looking after to help it to grow (see notes in verse 19 above on discipleship).
Barnabas spoke up and testified on Saul’s behalf and he was accepted in the community of believers “coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”
Acts 9:29-31 “And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
A bold testimony provokes a bold response. Disputing with the “Grecians,” Saul found himself attacked by the same hatred that opposed Stephen. They, too wanted to do him the same harm and “they went about to slay him.”
Once again, through “the brethren,” Saul’s life was spared. I love the way God uses ordinary people to step into extraordinary lives. Saul was not a well-known missionary at the time. As a matter of fact, the thing he was well-known for he probably wished people would forget and accept him for who he is now. Yet God, moved in the hearts of the people to help their fellow brother in Christ and provide a way of escape.
“They brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.” Saul was headed home (see Acts 22:3). Barnabas also went to Tarsus at a later time to get Saul and worked with him in Antioch and in also delivering a gift of financial relief to the elders in the Jerusalem church, (Acts 11:25-30).
“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” For a time, the evangelistic efforts of the church had provoked the hatred of many against them causing much of the persecution they dealt with. Yet, they still grew and multiplied in the midst of all the adversity the faced. They still preached Jesus. They still were found “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.”
Their witness for Jesus was not in vain. The cities where Jesus commanded them to go were, through many hardships, being evangelized (compare to Acts 1:8).
Saul’s witness and changed life because of Jesus Christ will go down in history and forever be remembered as one of the greatest conversion stories ever told. Saul had a past, but he also had a future. Many helped him along the way to become the man who he is most famously known as, the Apostle Paul.
Later, one of the places he would plant churches was in Corinth. Writing to them in 2 Corinthians 5:17 he could boldly teach, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” because he experienced God’s working in his life in the same dramatic and real way.
Saul may not have looked like much to the Christian community of that day other than a troublesome evil man bent on their destruction, but God had other plans in mind. Don’t write people off because you never know what God will do to them and through them. Don’t count them out for they may rise up to be the next greatest witness for Jesus Christ.
Saul eventually had his name changed to Paul and became one of the most well-known men in the Bible. He has stories of tragedies, but he also has stories of triumph that led to several missionary journeys with new churches being planted along the way.
Many of people’s lives have been changed from this one man’s new life in Christ.
(Click here for PDF: Saul Preaches Christ Sunday School Lesson, or simply click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are Activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Saul Preaches Christ Draw the Scene
How Many Words?: Saul Preaches Christ How Many Words (use PDF link for accurate printing)
Memory Verse: Saul Preaches Christ Memory Verse (use this PDF link for accurate printing)
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Animated Bible Story of Saul of Tarsus” (A great and short video showing today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Paul’s Conversion Sunday School” (I like the idea of using any materials that can transform and create something new. This truly exemplifies the idea behind Saul’s transformation into his new life in Christ. Also check out the link and ideas for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Enjoy!) Note: Other cool ideas to use would be homemade play dough (below), Lincoln Logs (pictured below), or Homemade Moon Sand (below) all of which we have used before on this site and are fairly easy and cheap to throw together.
Play Dough: If you wish to illustrate this lesson in this manner another good idea is to make homemade play dough. I usually use a No Cook formula such as the one found on Prekinders.com.
Make Moon Sand: Simply mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of baby oil and there you have. I made a double batch and am going to divide it among my students to build, play and lay their own foundation just like in our lesson. Break out the sand toys and have fun!!! So easy and really works!!! Enjoy!!!
“Blocks/Lincoln Logs”: Using blocks or Lincoln Logs (my favorite since I was a kid) to create something with their imagination. Enjoy!
“Saul’s Conversion: Tell it your way printable” (Two thumbs up!)
“Paul’s Conversion Activities” (Including mazes, puzzles, dot to dot and more).
“The Transformer” (Printable activities and group activities including “Transformer Teams and “Transforming Musical Chairs.” And of course, with all this transforming talk why not throw in an actual Transformer action figure. So cool! Enjoy!)
“Paul’s Conversion” (Ok, this is so cool! This site shows you how to use the “Sorry” board game and “Guess-tures” to make learning this lesson in an awesomely unique way. Enjoy!)
“Saul of Tarsus Flip Chart” (Can even be downloaded on Ipads, tablets and projectors. Enjoy!)
“Saul is Converted on the Road to Damascus” (Awesome lesson helps and definitely scroll down for the unique printables and activities. Enjoy!)