A Study Of Acts 9:1-16

Every first day of the week we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the grave.

By that act of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, God demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the price for our sins on the cross has been fully paid.

And to prove that Christ has absolutely risen from the dead:

He appeared to many (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, John 6:70)

We read about His appearances in I Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1 Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1 Corinthians 15:5
And that he was seen of Cephas (which means Peter), then of the twelve:

1 Corinthians 15:6
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:7
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1 Corinthians 15:8
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

What happened to these people after Jesus appeared to them?

They were on fire for the Lord to tell others:

He is Risen!

He is no longer dead.

You can see that for example in the story of the two disciples who were going to Emmaus, which was about 7 miles from Jerusalem.

After Jesus had appeared to them, they immediately got up and that very same evening they walked back 7 miles to Jerusalem to tell the Apostles what they had seen:

Jesus is alive!

This entire chapter of 1st Corinthians 15, deals with the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and with the bodily resurrection of everyone who has had any existence here on earth.

Even those who had only temporary existence in the womb of their mother will be bodily resurrected on the Last Day.

Because Christ rose from the grave, that is why we also will rise from our grave on the Last Day.

This passage in 1 Corinthians 15 begins with: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was buried, and he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”.

Everything happened as was planned by God, and as was prophesied according to the Scriptures.

Christ was chosen to suffer and die for our sins, and to rise from the dead, and to be crowned King of kings.

The Disciples were chosen by God to be faithful witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

Judas Iscariot was chosen as one of the disciples, so that he would be the one who would betray Jesus, according to the Scriptures.

The Lord Jesus said in John 6:70, Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

And the risen Christ also appeared to Saul the Pharisee on the road to Damascus, because:

Saul Was Chosen by God (Acts 9:1-4)

In the Acts of the apostles chapter 9 we read about Saul, the Pharisee.

Saul was a type of any hypercritical unbeliever today. Saul knew it all.

Saul knew the Scriptures, or so he thought, and Saul studied the Christians.

Saul was disgusted with the Christians.

And Saul was convinced that the Christians were a threat to everything he stood for.

They were a threat to his job as a Pharisee, and they were a threat to his lifestyle as a teacher of the Law, and they were a threat to everything he believed about God and about salvation.

They were his scapegoat.

But now consider any hypercritical unbeliever today, and you will detect the same traits as in Saul the Pharisee.

They are usually well educated, and they have carved out their plans how to make a carrier in this life.

But they are done with the Christians, or done with the Church, because the Church is full of hypocrites.

They insist that they still love God, but God cannot be in the Church, because the Church is full of hypocrites.

How could that be?

The Church has become their scapegoat.

I know, because I have been there.
At one time I too was a hypercritical unbeliever like Saul.
Certain Christian people turned me off.
I too had my reasons why I was done with the Church.
And then I began to realize that my scapegoat was not the true Church, but it was people.
I had not studied the Bible.
Without further study I had already judged the Church, and I was equating the people of the Church with the Bible.

I did not know that God says in the Bible: “You must be Born Again”.

And if there are many people in the Church who are not Born Again, then it is no wonder that I was turned off by them.

But my scapegoat was an illegitimate scapegoat.

I was blaming God, whereas I should have put the blame where it should fall:

Blame people for what people have done.

But if these people were not even Born Again, then they may not be God’s People.

Don’t blame God for the sins that people have done to you.

You are setting up for yourself an illegitimate scapegoat, and you will be judged for that.

Read and listen how Saul the Pharisee became Born Again.

Acts 9:1
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

Acts 9:2
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Acts 9:3
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Acts 9:4
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”

A bright Light appeared to Saul.

Who was that Light?

Jesus said: “I am the Light of the world”. It was the resurrected Christ who appeared to Saul, and stopping him in his tracks:

In the midst of doing a dastardly deed (Acts 9:5-19)

This is what a scapegoat does to you.

Your scapegoat grows in size and you develop a hatred for that scapegoat, until you are willing to kill.

Saul was so furious with the Christians that he wanted them all dead, and he was willing to be the executioner of their death sentence.

But then Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, and stopped him in his tracks.

And Jesus said unto him:

“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”

That is how intimately Jesus identifies Himself with us.
If we are persecuted, then He is persecuted.

Acts 9:5
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:6
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Act 9:7
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Acts 9:8
And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Acts 9:9
And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:10
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

Acts 9:11
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Acts 9:12
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Acts 9:13
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

Acts 9:14
And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Acts 9:15
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Acts 9:16
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Acts 9:17
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:18
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:19
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

Let us review the question that Saul asked from this bright light that threw him to the ground,

Who art Thou, Lord? (Acts 9:4-5, Matthew 5:21-22)

Acts 9:4-5
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”

And he said, Who art thou, Lord?

And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

Did you see that?

Saul was actually persecuting Jesus.
His sin was actually a sin against God.
People would never admit that they are persecuting God.
No! We think we are pretty good people.

We may have our own scapegoats and may hold certain grudges against this one and against that one, but we are not bad people.

But what if those people, against whom we hold certain grudges, happen to be children of God?

Then we are holding a grudge against God!

That is what this passage teaches. How terrible!

Does this passage then teach that we may not hold a grudge against anyone?

That is right.

The Bible teaches that we may not hate anyone, nor even hold a grudge against anyone because that is equivalent to murder. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22,

Matthew 5:21
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

Matthew 5:22
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (or: empty head, Dodo), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The Lord Jesus says that anger falls in the category of: “Thou shalt not kill”.

Our anger, most of the time is sinful anger.

If you do get angry with a cause, let it be as Christ’s anger, which means without sin.

For example, you can be indignant when God is dishonored.

Saul the Pharisee was angry with the Christians, but it was an unrighteous anger.

And Saul would never admit that he was persecuting God.

You see, Saul did not know Christ.

Today there are many people who do not know Who God is.

They have heard about Christ, but they do not know Him personally.

Let me bring up Abraham Lincoln again.

Many people know about Abraham Lincoln from books, or from stories told to them, but no one living today really knows Abraham Lincoln.

They know about Abraham Lincoln, but they do not know him personally, because Abraham Lincoln is dead.

Many people know about Christ from books, or from stories told to them, but many do not know Christ personally.

They only know about Christ.

But can someone know Christ personally?

Yes!

We can know Him personally, because Christ is not dead; He is alive again.

And how can we get to know Him personally?

Well, Christ has to make Himself known to us.

We cannot drag Him out of heaven.

Like Christ made Himself known to Saul the Pharisee, so Christ has to make Himself known to us.

That is what salvation is.

Christ chooses to whom He wants to reveal Himself.

Today He does not do that by a bright light, but by giving us repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, the truth of the gospel.

Saul did not know God, even though he thought he did.

Ananias Was Chosen by God (Acts 9:10, Romans 8:7-8, Psalm 65:4)

Ananias was chosen by God to bring a message from God to Saul the Pharisee.

That was an unpleasant job for Ananias.

But Ananias did know God, and therefore Ananias obeyed what God said.

We read in Acts 9:10,

Acts 9:10
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

Saul was chosen by God, and Ananias was chosen by God.

How does anyone become chosen of God?

Does God choose people as time goes by?

Or does God know ahead of time who He will choose?

Does God choose only those people of whom God knows that they will turn to Him?

Well, that is easy to answer.

Saul had absolutely no intention to come to Christ.

And yet Saul was chosen.

God caused Saul the Pharisee to become saved.

We see here in Saul the Pharisee a very typical example of how anyone becomes saved.

We all start out as Pharisees, as enemies of God, haters of God and haters of our fellow man.

That is really true. God says in Romans 8:7-8:

Romans 8:7
The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:8
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

This is the frame of mind in which everyone in the world is born.

We are born in the flesh, and with a mind that is at enmity against God, and we don’t want to be subject to the Law of God.

In fact we are incapable of subjecting ourselves to the Law of God.

It goes against our inherent nature.

Therefore, we “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

How can there be any hope?

But God, who delights in mercy, decided to save a people for Himself out of this miserable mess of mankind that is on the way to Hell.

God chose to pour His blessings on Saul the Pharisee, even though he deserved to go to Hell for all the Christians he murdered.

Therefore God says in Psalm 65:

Psalm 65:4
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

How does anyone escape the wrath of God?

This is how: “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest.”

God chose this Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, before the foundation of the world, that he might be one of God’s people.

And God gave us this story to show us how God’s irresistable grace can draw even the most stubborn heart to Jesus.

Again, Psalm 65:4 says: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee.”

God not only does the choosing, but God also draws the person irresistibly into the arms of Christ.

As a sign of this action, God sent Ananias to:

The street called “Straight” (Acts 9:11-12, Acts 8:21, Acts 13:10)

Acts 9:11
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight , and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Acts 9:12
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

Now, historically there was a street called “Straight” in Damascus.

There may have been no curve in that street.

But God could easily have left out that historical detail.

Why did God describe this detail that the street was called Straight?

There must be a spiritual meaning attached to it.

Most likely God connected that with: “Behold, he prayeth”.

What has Saul’s praying to do with the name Straight?

When we search for other places where this word Straight is used, we find two references that stand out, and both references are in the Acts of the Apostles.

The first one is in chapter 8:21.

In this event the Apostle Peter addresses Simon the Sorcerer in a city of the Samaritans.

Peter said to him, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 8:20
“Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”

Then Peter said in Acts 8:21,

Acts 8:21
“Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

Then Peter said: “thy heart is not right in the sight of God”, the word “right” is the same Greek word that has been translated Straight in Acts 9:11. In other words, Peter told Simon the Sorcerer that he was still unsaved and his heart was not “upright” before God.

The second reference is in Acts 13:10. In this event the Apostle Paul (who was formerly called Saul) was addressing another Sorcerer, named Elymas, who was trying to hinder the preaching of the Gospel. Then said Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Acts 13:10,

Acts 13:10
And Paul said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Here again, when Paul said: “the right ways of the Lord”, the word “right” is the same Greek word that has been translated “Straight” in Acts 9:11. In other words, Paul told Elymas the Sorcerer that he was obstructing the “upright” ways of the Lord.

Therefore, in Acts 9:11 for this occasion we may rename the street that was called Straight, and call it the “Upright Street”. For this occasion it was called the “Upright Street” because Saul of Tarsus was praying there, and Saul’s prayer was upright. Saul was blinded by the Light of Jesus, and Saul was praying. Saul was in agony about all the sins he had committed and God sent Ananias to Saul to lay his hands on Saul, and God was going to give back to Saul his eyesight.

Lord, not that one! (Acts 9:13-14, John 10:14-15)

Lord, this man is the most wicked persecutor of the Church. Don’t heal him. We will be in a pack of trouble when he regains his eyesight. We read in Acts 9:13-14,

Acts 9:13
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

Acts 9:14
And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Paraphrased God said: “Don’t fear, he is a chosen vessel unto Me. You know what that means. It means that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for all his sins and that Saul will come to hear and believe the Gospel.” When the Lord Jesus spoke about His chosen vessels, He said in John 10:14-15,

John 10:14
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

John 10:15
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

In other words, Jesus the Chief Shepherd says: “I know who My sheep are and they will know Me because I will reveal Myself to them. Just as intimately as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, so intimately do I know My sheep and they will know Me”.

Wow!

This mutual knowledge of Christ and His sheep is as intimate and blessed as between God the Father and God the Son.

Wow!

Jesus is saying these words in the context of going to the cross. Christ is the Good Shepherd in death, laying down His life for the sheep, so that He can be the Great Shepherd in resurrection.

Is Christ laying down His life for the sins of everyone in the whole world?

The words of John 10:14-15 will not allow such an interpretation. When Jesus said: “I lay down My life for the sheep”, He was not referring to all the sheep and the goats in the world, but He was referring to only His sheep. Christ was referring to laying down His Soul not just for His sheep, not just on behalf of His sheep, but also in the place of His sheep. When God said to Ananias: “he is a chosen vessel unto Me” God meant that the Lord Jesus Christ had so identified Himself with Saul of Tarsus that He had taken upon Himself all the sins of Saul of Tarsus, and had suffered the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for this wicked Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus. What an incredible unselfish love for such a wicked sinner.

Now, instead of Saul of Tarsus, put your own name there. You and I are not lesser sinners than Saul of Tarsus. The Lord Jesus came for sinners. He did not come for good people. They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

How great a sinner are you willing to see in yourself?

We were chosen before the foundation of the world. But we also must see from Acts 9 that we:

Were Chosen For a Purpose (Acts 9:15-16).

Acts 9:15
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Acts 9:16
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Every Believer has been chosen by the Father to bear the name of Christ before the Gentiles.

Every Believer is called to be a witness (Greek: Martur)

Think of it: We were snatched from the fires of Hell.

The God-man Jesus Christ who saved us, He Himself was burned severely by the fires of Hell.

But now He lives!

Does He not deserve our praise continually?

Does He not deserve our gratitude?

The Honor: We are called Ambassadors for Christ

2 Corinthians 5:18
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Christ did not only save us from Hell.

Christ also saved us for a certain purpose.

Think of the Honor:

Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Gentiles, kings and Children of Israel (Revelation 1:5-6, Romans 9:6-7)

Acts 9:15
Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

This is Historically true:

Missionary to the Gentiles.

Governor Felix.

Governor Festus.

King Herod Agrippa.

Preached in many synagogues of Asia Minor.

But God wrote these words so that they are also spiritually true.

Paul was an outstanding missionary to the Gentiles, and Paul was a great tool in the hands of God to leave us many manuscripts, from which we can learn the grace of God in election, in Christ’s atonement, and in the perseverance of the Saints.

Paul preached before many kings. In God’s terminology, the Believers are all kings.

Revelation 1:5
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Revelation 1:6
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Remember that Christ is called King of kings.

Who are those kings?

All the Saints are called kings.

Think of it: The honor: Ambassadors for Christ, and also kings.

Before the Children of Israel.

In God’s terminology who are called Israel?

Christ, and those who are in Christ.

Romans 9:6
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Romans 9:7
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Are we to suffer great things? (Acts 9:16, Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 2:19-21)

Acts 9:16
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

1 Peter 2:19
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 2:20
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Are we content with our lot?

Christ was not exempt from suffering and none of the children of God are exempt from suffering.
Because Christ was raised from the dead:

Our bodies shall be raised from the dead on the Last Day. What a glorious day that will be.

By Alfred J. Chompff

~ by Test All Things on April 29, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 120 other followers