Paul’s sole purpose.
…I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
On the stairs of the courthouse…
1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.
He was a Jew like them. (Brothers and Fathers)
Brought up in Jerusalem, speaking Aramaic, like them.
Example: No one can win the trust of an alcoholic like another alcoholic.
From Paul’s testimony, it is evident that God…
1. wastes nothing in the lives of his people.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
EVERYTHING that’s happened to you is useful to God…
Example: Don’t be afraid to tell your story. (Tommy told his, Annso told hers, and people commented more to be about that than the sermons those weeks.)
4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.
9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
Nothing beats an encounter with Jesus.
The marks of Jesus: Poverty of spirit, Purity, Teachability, Humility, etc.
2. moves people from flesh to spirit.
Example: Humbled by his addiction, an alcoholic said this about making amends to people he had hurt: “I would never normally do this.”
"There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him." - C.S Lewis.
Everything changes after encountering Jesus.
“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.
16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
3. calls his people to be witnesses of his love.
1. what it was like
2. what happened
3. what it’s like now.
17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.
Jerusalem now is right, but then was wrong.
Example: Moses delivering Egypt.
Sex inside of marriage is a gift. Before marriage, it’s a sin.
21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” 22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.
Confessing his own sin revealed the sin in their lives.
They were shouting because he was pointing out their evil and they didn’t like it.
4. uses confession to activate conviction.
Example: Mark’s confession about the Captain Cook hike and its effect on me.
Conviction by the Holy Spirit forces a decision in others.
5. allows each person to decide individually.
To decide what exactly?
25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
Citizenship is a huge deal.
What exactly is Paul selling? Forgiveness? Jesus? What is heaven like?
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine heaven or what comes after this life.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
– C. S. Lewis
“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness... We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience… (We might) identify it with certain moments in (our) own past. But all this is a cheat. If (we) had gone back to those moments in the past, (we) would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what (we) remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory