THE ACTS 15
A SINCERE SERVANT OF GOD IS LED TO THE TRUTH
Before studying the details of this 9th chapter of Acts, I want us to be aware of some very important facts. First, the fact that Jesus is no longer visibly present does not mean that He has left the propagation of the Gospel in the hands of men. The direct involvement of God, in the events of these early days of Christianity, is necessary to fulfill His promise to Abraham. That promise was that “all the families of the earth would be blest”. So, to spread the Gospel over the whole earth, God took personal charge, with His wisdom and power, to make it happen. Also, Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them, and He is fulfilling that promise by filling them with His Spirit, and enabling them to effectively tell the story wherever they go.
Second, I want to emphasize that even though the events recorded in this chapter are miraculous, this does not mean that God did not allow Saul to use his own free will in choosing the way he was to go. The miracle, as we shall see, only stopped him long enough for him to be taught the truth. He was already converted to doing the will of God. His whole life was wrapped up in the pursuit of what he thought God wanted him to do. All the miracle did was to make him see that his understanding of God’s will was wrong. So, it is really not true to say that Saul of Tarsus was “converted”. The direction of his life changed, but only because his information was changed. His heart was still completely committed to God.
There are millions of members of churches, but not all of them are converted to Jesus Christ. Only those who have a sincere desire to do the will of God, and have a personal relationship with Him, can be called Christians. Being a member of a church, and wearing the name, does not make one a Christian in the sight of God. He did not select Saul of Tarsus because he was an effective worker and could be used to preach to the Gentiles. He was selected because his whole life was dedicated to God, and this made him a subject for God’s purposes. God can only use you if you are willing to give up your personal will and walk with Him as your guide. He will not take away your power of free will, for He created you to use that to have a love relationship with Him, and it is the one vital characteristic you alone control. You must choose Adam’s road or God’s.
One last observation before we move into the details of the 9th chapter. God used Saul even before his change. His persecution of the Church caused the Church to scatter. God did not move in to stop the persecution, as He could have done, but because of it, the Christians in Jerusalem had to leave the comfortable loving company of the Church there and get out into the world. The scripture says, “They went everywhere preaching the Word”. Christianity was never meant to be monastic. One is not being holy when they lock themselves away from the world and contemplate their own righteousness. Christians are evangelists, for the story they have to tell is the most important message the world has ever known, and God has left it up to His children to carry it to lost mankind.
You do not worship God by being a part of a holy company, surrounded by people you consider holy, and even revering and worshipping them as representatives of God. The church you are in does not make you holy. When you strive to be holy, which means “set apart for His service”, you move out to find His lost sheep and bring them into the fold. None is holy except God, and holiness is doing what He wants most. Only God is to be worshipped, not man, and to worship Him is an act of serving His purposes, not performing rituals that accomplish nothing. Unfortunately, religious rituals instead of religious lives are all too popular in the Christian world today.