Witnesses within new community

Published 3:57 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

Scripture: Acts 9:1-25

Aim: To instruct the pupil regarding the expansion of the New Community, The Church of Jesus Christ, by those who have been transformed by being converted to Christ.

Golden Text: “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16).

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Before Jesus ascended back to heaven after His resurrection from the dead, He gave the disciples instructions as to their, and all members’ of the New Community of believers, responsibility to witness to others in order to bring them into the community of believers.

He gave the “Great Commission:” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Just before Jesus ascended He commanded, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This plan of witnessing was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers who were in the upper room in Jerusalem. On that day 3,000 men, plus women and children, were converted to follow Christ. Then a great company of priests became Christ followers along with 4,000 more men, plus women and children.

When the deacon Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:54-8:2), the believers were scattered from Jerusalem and they went witnessing to folks everywhere in Judea, Samaria and Galilee (Acts 8:4). Conversions were growing as the Lord had intended.

Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee and leader among the Jews, has consented to the death of Stephen. He was an avid persecutor of the believers in Christ. This lesson focuses on Saul’s conversion, experience and Christ’s call to him to be a witness for Him.

I. Saul was on the way to Damascus to imprison people who had become Christians (Acts 9:1-2). He had been given authority from the leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem to bind them and return them to Jerusalem (vs. 1-2).

II. Jesus Christ appeared to Saul while on the road toward Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). As Saul and his party traveled, they suddenly were confronted with a great blinding light, which caused all to fall on their faces upon the ground (vs. 3-4, 7). Saul heard the voice of Jesus asking why he was persecuting Jesus (vs. 4). The others saw the light and heard the voice, but saw no one (vs. 7).

Saul asked who was speaking. Jesus said that He was “Jesus” and that “it is hard for thee to kick against the goads” (vs. 5). Where upon Saul asked what Jesus wanted him to do (vs. 6). Jesus instructed him to go into the city of Damascus and he would be told what he must do (vs. 6). Saul was blind and had to be led into the city as Jesus had told him (vs. 8-9).

III. Saul is healed and commissioned to become a witness for the New Community (Acts 9:10-22). The Lord sent a Christian named Ananias to see Saul (vs. 10-16). He went to Saul, instructed him, baptized him and laid hands upon him to receive his sight again (vs. 17-18).

Saul immediately became an effective witness for Christ and the Church (vs. 19-20). He was so powerful in his witness that he confounded the Jews, of whom he had been one (vs. 21). This led to the persecution of Saul and the intent of the Jews to kill him (vs. 23-25). He escaped by being let down over the wall of the city at night (vs. 25). Thus one of the greatest witness of the New Community was converted and began his witness. He was later named “Paul.”

Howard Tillery is the pastor of New Ochlocknee Baptist Church in Grady County. He lives in Cairo.