MAY 22: REDEEMED FROM AN UNBELIEVING PAST

By Gene Price
Pastor, Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Acts 26:9-20

Throughout the book of Acts, we are introduced and exposed to the workings of the Holy Spirit. The focus of Acts is primarily on two individuals, Peter and Paul. For the study of this lesson, our focus will be on Paul. Paul was converted in Acts 9 and God’s purpose for Paul was mainly to take the gospel message to the Gentiles. In our text, Paul finds himself before King Agrippa and Paul shares his conversion experience with one of the most powerful men in the world. 

Looking more closely at Paul’s testimony, we find that he shared what his life was like before his conversion experience. Paul explained to Agrippa that before his conversion experience, he hated the cause of Christ and gladly persecuted followers of Christ. In his journey to Damascus in which he was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” Paul was confronted by the Christ whom he had been persecuting. Like many who do not have a relationship with Jesus, Paul tried to justify his previous actions as noble. Paul enjoyed arresting, persecuting, and putting to death various Christians.  In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul said that this persecution was caused by the zeal of his former religion. Paul discovered that hunting down Christians was clearly not God’s desire. Paul is typical of many today who are not followers of Christ – in that they love to persecute those who follow Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that the hatred of believers would intensify before He returns.

Paul then shared the nuts and bolts of the encounter with Jesus that changed his life. On the road to Damascus Paul saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, which caused Paul to fall to the ground. Then he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” which meant to persecute the followers of Jesus is to persecute Jesus Himself. Jesus changed Paul’s life and Paul was commissioned to carry the gospel to the Gentiles (v. 17). Faithful he was! According to Galatians 6:17, Paul had scars on his body for the cause of Christ. Paul’s life demonstrates the fact that God can save anyone because Paul referred to himself as the “chief of all sinners.”

After surrendering himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul’s commitment proved that he was radically changed. Immediately after his conversion experience, a person could see Paul’s lifestyle changed. He was consistently obedient to Christ.  Paul was blinded by the light on the Damascus Road but after having his sight restored he immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying “He is the Son of God.” Paul began to preach in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles. This commitment to Jesus Christ is proven by the events that caused much personal suffering for Paul. II Corinthians 11:23-27 tells of many of the things Paul suffered: imprisonment, floggings, lashes, stoning, shipwreck, and danger. God spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road telling Paul of the things he would face as a believer, but that was not the last time God spoke to Paul. God continued to give guidance and direction to him for the rest of his life.

Paul shared his testimony before King Agrippa. Never underestimate the power of your personal testimony. Paul shared what his life was like before his encounter with Christ, about the day he responded to Christ, and then illustrated this change through a consistent lifestyle of obedience to Christ. Your testimony may be different from Paul’s, yet all who respond to Christ respond in the same way — by faith followed by a lifestyle of obedience in whatever Christ calls us to do.

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