Saturday, June 25, 2022

2022.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:20–30

Read Acts 9:20–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Saul do, where, proclaiming what (Acts 9:20)? When? How did the hearers respond (Acts 9:21)? What did they ask? But what happened as Saul was challenged (Acts 9:22)? What did he do to the Jews? By what? How long did this go on (Acts 9:23)? To what strategy did the Jews switch? Who found out about it (Acts 9:24)? What were the Jews doing? What did the disciples do with Saul’s knowledge (Acts 9:25)? Where did Saul go in Acts 9:26? What did he try to do there? But how did the disciples respond? But who took him (Acts 9:27)? To whom? What does he declare to the apostles that the Lord had done? That he himself had done? What were his status and habits now (Acts 9:28)? How did he speak (Acts 9:29)? In what name? Disputing against whom? How did they respond? Who found out in Acts 9:30? Where did they bring him and send him?

What did Saul’s Christ-ordained ministry look like?  Acts 9:20-30 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Saul’s Christ-ordained ministry included a devotion to proclaiming the truth about Christ, and being willing to risk his life for Him, but taking wise precautions as providence permitted. 

Saul was devoted to proclaiming the truth about Christ. In Acts 9:20, Saul finally makes it into the synagogues, but it’s not to drag off followers of Christ. Rather, it’s to make new disciples by proclaiming Him. He proclaims Him as Son of God (verse 20b). He confounds the Jews by proving that this is the Christ (Acts 9:22b). He does this preaching boldly (Acts 9:27Acts 9:29). He does this preaching in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:27Acts 9:29).

Saul was willing to risk his life for this preaching. He knew better than anyone how murderous the opposition to Jesus could be. Even after he began proclaiming Christ, he was suspected first in Damascus (Acts 9:21) and then in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26). But suspicion from those he had once targeted was rather minor by comparison to hostility from those whom he had previously joined in targeting them.  

The Jews in Damascus plot to kill him (Acts 9:23), using the gates of the city as a bottleneck point in which to identify him coming or going (Acts 9:24). He returns to his home synagogue in Jerusalem, the synagogue of the freedmen where the Hellenists worshiped. Surely, he remembered Stephen’s fate for the same sort of ministry. And the Hellenists attempt to do the same with Him (Acts 9:29). 

Christ had told him (a) that Saul would bear His Name (Acts 9:15), and (b) that he would suffer many things for His Name (Acts 9:16). Saul was willing for both parts of his ministry.

Saul was willing to take wise precautions as providence permitted. When “their plot became known to Saul” in Acts 9:24, it was a preview of Acts 23:16ff. The Christ Whom he preaches, the Christ Whose Name he bears, the Christ Whom he serves, the Christ for Whom he is willing to risk his life is the Lord of heaven. So for Saul, providence is personal. 

When he finds out a plot, He receives that news as the provision of His Lord. He knows they’re watching the gate (Acts 9:24), so the disciples let him down through wall (Acts 9:25). When the disciples are afraid of him (Acts 9:26), but Barnabas vouches for him (Acts 9:27), he takes that opportunity to preach at his and Barnabas’s home church (Acts 9:29). When there’s a new attack on his life (verse 29), the brethren send him to his original home (Acts 9:30). The fearlessness and wise use of means come from the same place: Christ is in control.

Saul’s ministry is Christ’s. Saul’s life and safety are Christ’s. The whole world, and every event in it, is Christ’s.

In what roles do you bear the Name of Christ? What are you willing to put at risk to serve Him boldly in those areas? What are some examples of you taking providence personally?

Sample prayer:  Lord, even though we are not apostles, You have redeemed us and invested Your glorious Name in our lives. All of our callings are for the glory of Your Name. Make us to treasure that and to live boldly to bring You honor in all the roles that You give us. Thank You for ruling and overruling our lives for our good and Your glory. Sustain us to live for that glory, we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

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