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  • Aug 12 / 2018
  • Comments Off on What a Transformation! (Acts 9:1-19)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What a Transformation! (Acts 9:1-19)

Download Notes in a .MD file

What a Transformation!

Acts 9:1-19 (Pastor Heo)

9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. 6 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


This is the conversion story of Saul/Paul

This story is one of the greatest events in church history – after

  1. the coming of the HS at Pentecost, and
  2. the conversion of the Gentiles in chp 10, this –
  3. Paul will become a great apostle to the Gentiles.

This is an event of supreme importance. In world history, both secular and church history. The conversion of Paul is mentioned 3 times in Acts: chp 9, 22, 26.

There is no one else whose conversion story is repeated 3 times – only Saul’s.

As we know,

  • in chp 7, when Stephen was stoned to death, Saul was there, giving approval to his death. And
  • in chp 8, he began to persecute the Christians, dragging them from their houses and putting them in prison.

Actually, Saul’s conversion is not “sudden conversion” – but a “sudden acceptance.”

Saul was there when Stephen died, he heard him and saw him – what he said and how he died. Perhaps something about this stayed with him for the rest of his life. “How could a bad man die like this?” maybe he asked himself. So, he plunged into the most violent action possible in chp 8 – putting Christians into prison. But this only made it worse.

He had to ask himself: “What secret gives them this boldness, peace, joy, etc in the face of suffering, persecution, and even death.”

He went on to the Sanhedrin and asked for a letter of credit to go to Damascus and kill all the Christians to destroy the church. It was about 175 miles northeast from Jerusalem. It was a key commercial city – one of the largest at that time, and it had a large Jewish population. This journey would be taken by foot, for about one week.

The only companions he had were officers of the Sanhedrin. But because he was a Pharisee, he could have nothing to do with them. So, he could only walk and think.

Saul (origin)

v. 1-2

“9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

When he almost arrived at Damascus, suddenly a light flashed around him – at noontime. It was brighter than the sunlight. Because of this light, he fell to the ground and the voice from the light said, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord.” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” “What should I do?” “Get up and go into the city and you will hear what you should do.” He went and fasted in the city for 3 days.

Saul (transformation)

v. 3-9

“9:3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. 6 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. “

  • Jesus knew Saul by his personal name. Likewise, Jesus also calls us by name.
  • Jesus didn’t say, “Why do you persecute my believers?” but rather, “Why do you persecute me?” Anyone who persecutes the church – even today – is guilty of persecuting Christ – because believers are the body of Christ.

Here, Saul’s experience is no mere hallucination, vision, he saw the actual, risen Lord. Later, he continually insisted that he looked upon the risen Lord just as the disciples did in the Upper Room on the first Easter. Saul continually insists that he saw the risen Lord – and he based his apostleship on this reality.

  • Before, he saw Jesus dead (crucified) but now he saw him alive.
  • He thought he was a bad man, but discovered he was the Messiah, prophesied by the OT. If Jesus is alive, then Paul would have to change his mind about his message.
  • He thought he was God’s man, but discovered that he was persecuting God.
  • He thought he was righteous, but discovered he was a lost sinner – in need of repentance and forgiveness and salvation.

Remember, true conversion comes from a personal encounter with Jesus and gives new life in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Have you ever experienced this true conversion by having a personal meeting with Christ?

In this event, Saul entered Damascus a changed man. What a transformation! What a changed man! (Remember v. 1-2?)

  • He started to go to Damascus to arrest all Christians and take them to Jerusalem. But he arrived totally changed.
  • The persecutor changed into the persecuted.
  • The leader became the follower. And his physical eyes closed, but his spiritual eyes opened.
  • He was like a wild animal, a bull, but became like a lamb – a vessel of honor, the instrument of Christ – to preach the gospel to the ends of the world.
  • He started his journey with murderous threats, but ended with humility and obedience.

What a transformation!

This is the biggest change in his whole life – also in Christian history.

Up to this time, Saul had been doing what he liked and what he wanted – what his will dictated – what he thought best and righteous. But from this time on, he would do what God wants him to do. This is the life of a real Christian. So, let me ask, “what do you do?”

The Christian is the one who has stopped doing what he wants to do and has started doing what God wants him to do.

  • Do you do what you want to do?
  • Or do you do what God wants you to do?

Are you sure that what you’re doing recently is what Christ wants you to do? Or is it just what you want to do?

Also from this story, we can know, “yes” Saul was saved completely by believing in the risen Christ. Saul didn’t choose him, but Christ chose him.

v. 15

“15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.””

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace we are saved, not by works. It is the gift of God, so that no one can boast.”

Saul didn’t choose Christ but Christ chose him.

Eph 1:4-5 “God chose us before the Creation of the world and predestined us to be his sons and daughters through Christ in accordance with his will.”

Jesus “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit.”

This is the greatest conversion story in the church.

  • The greatest persecutor became the greatest preacher.

So, we must not limit God. God can reach anybody and everybody for salvation.

Saul confesses later he is the “chief of sinners” : 1 Tim 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: that Christ died to save sinners, of whom I’m the worst.”

We should never think in our minds: “That person is too strong, impossible to be saved.”

Actually, God “wants all people to be saved – he desires that no one perish.” He can save anyone by his grace through faith in Christ.

Ananias’ story

v. 10-19

“9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.”

Without a doubt, Ananias is one of the forgotten heroes of the Christian church. But God remembers. We can only find his story here – only once.

Yes, Ananias knew the reputation of Saul – he knew Saul’s purpose to come to Damascus. Humanly speaking, he was probably very afraid. But in a vision, God said, “Go, that man is my chosen instrument.”

This mission of Ananias was scary, dangerous, etc. But his first words to Saul were, “Brother Saul…” These men had been the bitterest enemies but they became brothers in Christ. This is one of the strongest examples of Christian love.

From this story of Ananias, we can get 3 lessons.

#1: God can use the most unknown servant in doing something great

Ananias was an obscure and unknown saint at that time – but God used him. Behind many well-known servants of the Lord were many less-known servants. But God keeps a record, and rewards all according to his ministry, service, sacrifice.

What is important is not “faith” before men, but faithfulness before God.

#2: We shouldn’t be afraid to obey God’s command/will

At first, Ananias argued and gave many good reasons not to visit Saul. But we should remember that God had everything under control, and Ananias obeyed. We must remember that God is always working – at first and last.

At the same time that God gave a vision to Ananias, he also gave a vision to Saul.

God’s perfect will is always best.

#3: God’s works are always balanced

This is a kind of miracle.

Anyone among us experienced a “light” from heaven? This is a miracle.

But God’s works are always balanced.

  • He balanced a great, public miracle with a quiet, private meeting with Saul and Ananias.
  • The light and voice were loud, bright, dramatic. But the visit with Ananias was a very ordinary thing.
  • The hand of God pushed Saul from pride to the ground of humility. But he used Ananias’ hand to bring Saul up to where he needed.
  • God spoke directly from heaven, but also spoke through the voice of Ananias.

Today, God is the same. He is doing something great, extraordinary, marvelous, beautiful – but he can use our small-looking obedience in doing his great miracles. He can use ordinary people like you and me in doing his extraordinary miracles.

God bless you.

Still, God is doing his job behind us and ahead of us.

  • Peter preached before several thousand.
  • But Ananias was sent to preach to only one person – Saul – but what a person!

He would become the great apostle for the Gentiles. Even secular historians agree that Paul is one of the great figures in secular world history.

It means that God is doing something great in the invisible world.

  • We know in church history – Billy Graham – he did great things in church history. But who knows who led Billy Graham to Christ?
  • We know Martin Luther, William Carrey, did great jobs in Christian history. But who knows who led them all to Christ? Only God knows.

In our situation, if you preach just to one person, who knows if that person will touch thousands, millions, etc. We do not know. Only God knows. So every person is important before God.

“I’m so important before God.”

All the time, expecting, – when you evangelize one person, maybe that person will touch millions and millions. Through this story, we can know that God does great things through us, around us, and in us.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 27 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:26-42)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:26-42)

04.27

04.27.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

Aeneas and Dorcas
32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.


Acts 9 = The tremendous event of Saul’s conversion – while on the way to Damascus to take Christians prisoners. He was authorized to take any Christians there captive and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

On the way, Jesus met him in a blinding light – and he realized what he’d been doing. He was told to go into Damascus and wait. Ananias was then told to go and pray for Saul – but he was hesitant due to the words he’d heard of Saul. But God told him that Saul was chosen by God to take the word of the Lord before the Gentiles – even kings and rulers.

Ananias prayed for Saul, he was healed, and Saul immediately went out to preach the good news of Jesus in the places he used to persecute Christians. The Christian leaders didn’t recognize him at first – because of what he’d previously done.

Saul preached of the murder of God – but also the resurrection (as we saw last week at Easter) – and it is due to the resurrection and as evidenced by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the believers – that Jesus is the son of God, Messiah, Savior of the world.

Saul had previously been ignorant of all these things because he was only book-learned, and it took an encounter with Jesus (the living, risen Jesus himself) to change his mind and be able to finally understand and piece together the Scriptures that spoke OF Jesus. Then he was able to preach effectively in the synagogues and many were converted.

There are two images of Jesus in the Bible:

  1. The Suffering Servant
  2. The Glorious King

The Jews were focused on the second and many missed the first. We are now living between the former time and the latter.

“A time is coming when people will worship in spirit and in truth” when we receive Jesus as Savior. Saul finally realized this and preached it in the synagogues – in Damascus first. Then he went to Silicea and preached for 3 years. Then he came back – and there was a plot by the Jews and the governors of that area to kill Saul – so his followers let him down in a basket from the wall.

This updates us to today.

The disciples in Jerusalem had probably heard of Saul’s conversion (it’s been over 3 years). But they were still wary of him because of his long, hard reputation.

At this time, Barnabas (the Son of Encouragement) lived up to his namesake (nick-namesake) and blessed Saul before them.

Barnabas has been mentioned before in Acts 4 – his generosity noted – and he helped many people who were in need at that time. He “had a heart of gold.” Later, when the Antioch Gentiles received the gospel, Barnabas is sent down as one of the delegates to meet them and check out this move of the Spirit. He found that it was a genuine move of the Spirit and he encouraged them there.

Acts 13, Barnabas is chosen with Paul (Saul) to go on their first missionary journey.

Acts 15, Barnabas went with Paul to Jerusalem to help settle the controversy of Gentiles entering the church (did they need to keep all the Jewish Law? circumsicion? diet?) It was decided they didn’t need to keep all the rites and rituals that were part of the Old Covenant.

Later, Barnabas shows this same kind of “take a chance generosity” with Mark. Mark had let them down previously, and though Paul refused to accept him back into their missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to. This eventually split the two of them, but later Paul praised Mark and wanted him back – in a letter he wrote.

We all fail in different ways – but God is able to help and restore and strengthen us.

Barnabas brought Paul to the apostles (probably before Peter and James (Jesus’ brother)). Probably the others were busy elsewhere.

Paul doesn’t meet with the disciples around the churches in Judea, and some of the believers were probably not too eager to meet with him – suspecting him of being a secret spy. There was an air of suspicion about him, until Barnabas vouched for him.

v. 28-29

Paul speaks boldly in the name of the Lord – he’s debating with the Helenistic/Grecian Jews who’d been hostile to Stephen and stoned him to death. Quite a turn of events – because he’d held their coats while they had stoned Stephen. And eventually, these same guys tried to kill Paul. But they sent him away, back to his home in Tarsus.

The disciples were concerned with Paul’s safety and the safety of the church members with good reason (Acts 22). Paul (in Acts 22) mentions this time – he was in the temple in Jerusalem praying and the Lord appeared to him and said, “Quick! Leave Jerusalem immediately! The people here won’t accept your testimony!” Paul tried to argue saying his testimony is so amazing that people will have to believe. But God is firm and says, No, I will send you to the Gentiles. So, Paul agrees to go and the disciples send him off to Tarsus.

So this departure is really based on God’s will.

This whole portion of Scripture (Acts) reads as if it’s one event after the other, but there may have been much time that passes between events. For example, Paul may have stayed in Tarsus for up to 10 years.

Paul was a Roman citizen (received from his father – probably who did some service for Rome, got the citizenship and passed it on to Paul). So, Paul was learned in the popular culture as well – and was able to quote from poetry and other sources that the non-Christians would be familiar with. Paul eventually becomes the central focus of Acts.

Acts 9:31

There was a time of peace, encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the church grew (and possibly spread to Galilee).

People are being healed, saved, meeting the reality of the good news.

Acts 6:7

“So the Word of God spread.” Many in Jerusalem, including priests, believed.

This is a fulfillment of the Word of Jesus before his ascension – that the gospel would spread throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 9:32-35

Peter evangelizes the countryside in Judea.

Philip has passed through, preaching the gospel there after his encounter with the Ethiopian. Peter is backing up that missionary tour – going the same route, preaching and confirming the disciples as he goes.

He comes to Lydda to visit the saints (believers). Lydda = 25 miles NW of Jerusalem – at the crossroads of two major highways. Here, he meets Aeneas – bedridden for 8 years. He heals him and word of it spreads. Luke writes “all those who lived in Lydda saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Probably not ALL, but this is emphasis to show that this was a pretty major event.)

Peter next goes to Joppa – modern Jaffa (Tel-Abib?) Here there is a much-loved disciple “Tabitha” Aramaic = “Dorcas” Greek = Gazelle in English. She was doing well and loved by all the people and she suddenly dies. The whole church is mourning her, hear that Peter is nearby, so send for him.

What could he do? She’s dead. She’s lying in preparation for burial. And Peter goes upstairs, sends everyone out, kneels and prays, then tells her to “get up.” He takes up by the hand, helps her up, and presents her alive to the others. WOW. Lots of joy there.

There are many similarities between this story and Jesus’ story of raising Talitha? daughter of Jarius.

  1. The sending of messengers
  2. The mourners around the room
  3. The kicking everyone out of the room
  4. The calling for her to wake up
  5. The taking of her hand

Here, Peter is recreating the miracle that Jesus’ did earlier.

  • Jesus said, “Talitha, get up.”
  • Peter said, “Tabitha, get up.”
  • There is only one letter difference there.

Jesus had said, “What I have done, you will do.” Here is evidence of that. Peter obviously has an open line with God, and so he can speak with authority.

Luke 5 – the healing of the paralytic (through the roof) and Jesus had encouraged the man “your sins are forgiven.” When people get sick, we often self-examine. (What have I done? What have I not done with my life?) And Jesus spoke to that heart and said, “You’re forgiven.” But to prove he has authority to say that, he also healed his body.

Elijah (and Jesus?) also raised a widow’s son to life.

Throughout the Scriptures, there are similar accounts of raising people.

  • Elijah raised a widow’s son.
  • Elisha also raised someone.

Jesus is willing to use these servants – even you and me – if we recognizes him for who he is and what he’s done. He has promised to not bring the same diseases upon his people (in the Old Testament) as those who didn’t believe in him in other lands. He’s able to heal today as well.

Physical, Spiritual healing – related to forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness, God expects us to forgive others. Many people find that healing takes place only AFTER they forgive other people. Many times we harm ourselves and prevent God’s healing power to come through us because of our own unforgiveness. If we hold a grudge, unforgiveness against people – even close relatives – we are not free, we are not healed. Release them from the grudge, forgive them, and find healing for your own spirits.

We’ve all been touched and healed by the Lord. Let’s be prepared to share this with others.

Healing from death, physical, emotional, spiritual healing is available in Christ.

Acts 9 finishes with Peter at the house of Simon the tanner. The rabbis thought that tanning was unclean (because the animals might be unclean). But they also wrote the Scriptures on the hides of animals that were clean. Peter doesn’t seem to mind so much.

Later we see in Acts 10 that Peter learns to eat even unclean animals.

Interesting that Luke records strange details that don’t really help his story. BUT it does prove that Luke was an accurate historian – this is not myth, it’s history, it happened, it’s real. These little details demonstrate that.

In the final short section, Luke shows that the gospel has been preached in the whole province by now. And the Christian mission in the Jewish nation has now widened. The reader of Acts is now prepared for the next leap that the gospel message must take. That’s where Acts 10 begins the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles – to Cornelius and his household.

The good news is still good. Jesus heals, saves, He is Lord. Is he YOUR healer, Savior, Lord? If not, perhaps today is the day for you to be healed. We’ve been studying the resurrection, perhaps today is your day to be restored to life in your spirit.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen