Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of March 11, 2012…
Thank you to Dr. Vernon Kam for the message from Acts 26:4-23, “Paul’s Testimony.” In Chapter 26, Paul is before King Agrippa II. He gives his testimony.
1. Early life.
As a Pharisee. (Acts 26:4-5) The Jewish leaders thought highly of him. Paul was very serious about the Jewish religion. He saw Christianity as a threat to the Jewish faith, and so he attacked it with great passion. (vv.9-11)
2. His conversion.
Paul tells us he was on his way to Damascus to arrest Jews who had become Christian (v.12) Suddenly, a bright light shone upon him and his companions. He heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He asked who it was. The reply was, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (v.15) At that moment, Paul’s life was turned upside down. The thing to notice about Paul’s conversion is that it was sudden and unexpected. Suddenly, God takes the key player in the persecution of the church and turns him completely around. Perhaps you have been praying for someone to accept Christ, and that person shows no sign it is going to happen. What happened to Paul was sudden and completely unexpected. That means the same thing can happen to others. Suddenly, Jesus turned things around. That’s the way He is. Life with God is an adventure. Suddenly, things can happen. God is full of surprises.
3. Who is Jesus?
Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Paul answers that question for us. We are told, “… he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” (Acts 9:20) It is amazing that Paul, just recently converted, calls Jesus “the Son of God.” How did he know? Because Jesus revealed it to him. To call Jesus the Son of God involves the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Scripture says there is only one God, and yet numerous verses refer to the Father as God, Jesus as God, and the Holy Spirit as God. And that is why we have the Holy Trinity. There is one God, but that one God consists of Three Persons.
Referring to Paul, Jesus said, “… he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name.” (Acts 9:15-16 ESV) Two things for Paul. First, he is to be a minister and witness, especially to the Gentiles. Second, Paul was to suffer for the sake of Christ. But not just Paul; we too are to suffer. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29 ESV) That is something we don’t like to hear. Yet the Christian life involves suffering. Why is that? I want to offer two specific reasons. One has to do with pride and humility. We are told, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6 ESV). God cannot effectively use a proud person. Before his conversion, Paul was a proud man. He thought he was better than others. Later in life, Paul said: I am the least of the apostles. (1Corinthians 15:9) I am the foremost of sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15) Paul learned humility, and that is why he was such an effective instrument of Christ. Second, suffering gives us opportunity to demonstrate the love of God. It is love that bears pain. It is willing to endure. Example: God wants us to forgive. But it is hard to forgive. There is pain in doing so, but we do it for the sake of Christ.
Paul said in I Corinthians 13:2, 4-5, “2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. God is full of surprises, Jesus is the Son of God, His purpose for us is to witness for Jesus Christ, and love at all times, both in good and bad.
Have a blessed week living out your testimony in Jesus Christ!
Stan, for SLZJCC