Drop files to upload.
Faithlife Corporation

Owning Up To Ordination

Notes & Transcripts

Owning Up To Ordination

May 16, 1999                 Acts 9:1-31

 

Introduction:

          An ordination service, that we will have this afternoon at 2:30, typically calls for an ordination message from the one being ordained. In this case, it is myself. Since this afternoon’s service is full, with messages from two of the ordination council members, I will give an ordination message this morning, and this afternoon’s service can then be considered an extension of this morning’s service.

          I have now served at Mayfair Bible Church, in my first pastorate, for over three years. The constitution calls for a minimum of six months service before ordination can be considered. The Elders are designated with authority to determine and recommend a man's call to ministry and to present the question to the congregation for at least a 2/3’s vote of affirmation. This then empowers them to call an ordination council of the man’s peers, and others of proven authority in the Christian community, to examine the candidate for ordination. This widens the affirmation of the validity of a call to ministry into the Christian community at large.

Many of you may not have a clear idea of what ordination is, or why the Christian community considers it of importance. The word itself means to put in order, arrange, prepare, appoint, admit, or qualify for – in this case – Christian ministry. It is a formal “setting apart for a task”. I was already installed as your pastor. Now we are saying that this has proven out. But I feel like Saul when he said in 1Cor. 15:10 –

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIVUS)

          One is not ordered to Christian ministry by one’s self, at least he should not be. It is first by the order of Christ. But lest a man be deceived, it should also be affirmed by others. We could also say, along with Saul, that a call to ministry, if it is true, has been a predetermination of Christ from the beginning.

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17 NIVUS)

          Actually, the Bible says nothing about ordination councils and ceremonies, but the principle can be seen in today’s passage about the conversion and calling of Saul. Again, the fact is that we live in Christian community and we are all interdependent and accountable to one another. I know this principle must be true because of the gravity of this process I have felt in my own spirit. In reality, I have examined myself more stringently than the council has. I know there is no turning back. I know that I will be shown how much I must suffer for the Name of Jesus as He says to Saul in Acts 9:16 –

I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:16 NIVUS)

          As the title of this message indicates, I must own up to my ordination just as Saul did. I must obey Christ’s order, and as it is witnessed by the church at large. And if I ever feel I cannot own up to the task, I must take reassurance that Christ in me can own up to the task He gave me. It is by faith in Him that I receive this ordination. My verse for this is Gal. 2:20 –

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NIVUS)

          So what is ordination? It is a credentialing, an affirming, a commissioning to the Christian ministry. We are familiar with the scene of a newly built ship and its commissioning. A ceremony is held and someone of importance breaks a bottle of champagne over the bow. The ship is then launched from its slip and into service on the high seas. I suppose someone could hit me over the head with a Bible---- But it is important to note that ordination is a launch into the service of the church and not just to gain a certain amount of notoriety.

Topic:  Church

Subtopic:  Family of God

Index:  739-741

 

Date:  6/1998.1519

Title:  A Church Is Not an Audience

 

   A sharp distinction ought to be made between a church and an audience.  An audience is a group of unrelated people drawn together by a short-lived attraction.  An audience is a crowd.  A church is a family.  An audience is a gathering.  A church is a fellowship.  An audience is a heap of stones.  A church is a temple.  Preachers are ordained, not to attract an audience, but to build a church.  Coarse and worldly men, if richly gifted, can draw audiences, but only a man who is given to the Lord Jesus Christ can build a church.

 

   -- Charles E. Jefferson.  Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 4.

          So it is not for personal fame or fortune that a man is called into ministry. It is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Like A.W. Tozer said, “God is looking for men in whose hands his glory is safe.” We must honor that. Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary messenger of the gospel to the Auca Indians once described missionaries as “a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody”. And you know who that Somebody is. It is the Lord Jesus. When we find Jesus in someone, we must exalt Jesus and not the man. And that is glory enough for any man. When Ananias and Barnabas spoke for Saul, it was because they saw the hand of God upon his life.

Topic:  Humility

Subtopic:  Commanded

Index:  1715

 

Date:  12/1997.2112

Title:  Eulogies Ring False

 

   Funerals of pastors are solemn affairs. At times when I attend one, however, I am struck by a strange kind of irony. After a lifetime of ministry supposedly focused on grace, we bring the poor soul to his grave with eloquent eulogies and high tributes that give the lie to it all. All the deceased's good works are magnified and, of course, all shortcomings passed over.

   I am often reminded at such times of Lincoln's remark at the burial of one of his generals "If he had known he'd get a funeral like this, he'd have died much sooner." It is our vexing temptation, isn't it, not only in death but throughout life. We think we are a gift to God himself instead of remembering that ordained ministry is a gift to us.

 

   -- Herbert Chilstrom, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.

          In the manner of Christ, it is a gift that cannot be bought. It is not cheap. It may likely cost your blood. It is not a mail order proposition.

Topic:  Ministers

Subtopic: 

Index:  2083-2099

 

Date:  2/1991.8

Title: 

 

   We understand that anybody who wants to be an ordained minister can send $3 to the American Fellowship Church, Rolling Bay, Washington, and he or she will receive by return mail a diploma and a wallet-size identification card affirming that the bearer is, in fact, a duly ordained minister.  How I know is that a Franklin Park, Illinois detective, Bruce Walstad, got one of those mail order diplomas and so did Fluffy Walstad, his half poodle-half Pekinese dog.  Fluffy is now a duly ordained minister.

 

   -- Associated Press  9-18-90

          Real ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ is obtained by hard work, faith, and prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit. It begins by conversion and calling. These may not be at the same time in our experience like they were for Saul. But the experience is likely to be one which leaves you shaking in your boots like it did him – and me. He saw a light, heard a voice, and obeyed a call he dare not refuse. He heard the Word, believed Jesus, received the Holy Spirit, and was baptized. The evidence of his conversion was that he prayed and fasted for three days and immediately began to preach. For others not called to preach, they shall testify of their new faith in Jesus. His ordination was directly from God but affirmed by the dual vision that Ananias also received. It was affirmed by the church in Damascus and ultimately, three years later, by the apostles and the church in Jerusalem. It was reaffirmed by Jesus in Jerusalem as Jesus sends him on his mission to the Gentiles.

          Christ Jesus also spoke to my spirit as he called me from a life of sin and toward the path of righteousness by faith and ultimately toward formal Christian education and into ministry. Let us take confirmation of all this in a study of Saul’s experience with Jesus on the Damascus road----

CHRONOLOGICAL READING OF SAUL’S CONVERSION AND CALL:

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 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. (Acts 9:1-2 NIVUS)

 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished. (Acts 22:4-5 NIVUS)

 About noon, O king,(Agrippa) as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.  We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'  "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.  'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.  I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' (Acts 26:13-18 NIVUS)

 "'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. "'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.' (Acts 22:10 NIVUS)

Topic:  Vision

Subtopic:  Spiritual

Index:  509-511

Date:  8/1998.41

Title:  You'll Know If It's Jesus

   John MacArthur tells of a guy who went around California talking about how Jesus regularly appeared to him. One time he was telling John that Jesus had appeared to him that morning while he was shaving. John MacArthur asked, "What did you do?" He said, "I just kept on shaving." And John said, "Then that wasn't Jesus."

   -- Duane Litfin, "Serving a Glorified Christ," Preaching Today, Tape 178.

Topic:  God

Subtopic:  Power of

Index:  3808-3811

Date: 

Title: 

   Two young men, one a Christian and the other a skeptic, traveling through Switzerland, walked along the brow of a steep cliff, conversing of the providence of God. "I should not be willing to live another day," said the Christian earnestly, "if I could not believe that the Almighty directed my steps. I have no anxiety; for I trust his unerring guidance. No circumstance is too trifling for his control.

   The other replied, "I can control myself. See here!" And he paused to roll a stone down the precipice. "Did the Lord direct that pebble? See this lonely tree standing so near the edge! Do you suppose God ordained it should grow just in that spot? Some traveler threw the seed. Did the Almighty declare just where it should fall, and take root?" He threw one arm around a limb of the tree, and leaned against the trunk for his companion to reply. The soil began to crumble; and, before he could move, that part of the bank had fallen upon the rocks below. Only his arm around the tree, and one foot upon the stone, where it partly rested, saved his life. For an instant, both travelers stood motionless.

   Then the Christian fell on his knees in prayer. The skeptic came, and reverently knelt beside him. Silently they arose, and resumed their journey. God himself had spoken to the soul of the skeptic. He became a humble Christian, and a minister of the gospel.

   -- Tweksbury

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. (Acts 9:7 NIVUS)

 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. (Acts 22:9 NIVUS)

 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. (Acts 9:8 NIVUS)

 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. (Acts 22:11 NIVUS)

 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.  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.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."  "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.  And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."  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 IsraelI will show him how much he must suffer for my name."  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." (Acts 9:9-17 NIVUS)

SUFFERING: Right at the start of his spiritual pilgrimage, Saul is informed that he will suffer for the Name of Jesus. Suffering is a basic aspect of following Christ. (But there always seems to be those who will make sure that you suffer if they see you may be running short.) But before Paul experiences this cross, he will experience Christ’s power. He is filled with the Holy Spirit.

Topic:  Christianity

Subtopic:  Characteristics of

Index:  4139

Date:  7/1998.1029

Title:  Too Hard for Some

   The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

   -- G. K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 8.

Topic:  Suffering

Subtopic: 

Index:  3474-3488

Date:  6/1998.1251

Title:  The Burden of Suffering

   In America, Christians pray for the burden of suffering to be lifted from their backs.  In the rest of the world Christians pray for stronger backs so they can bear their suffering.

   -- Dave Dravecky in When You Can't Come Back. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 10.

Topic:  Selfishness

Subtopic: 

Index:  3222-3223

Date:  4/1998.2488

Title:  God and the "Me" Generation

   [Rabbi Harold] Kushner's book [When Bad Things Happen to Good People] was a best seller not only because it is so well written, but also because it caters to a narcissistic age.  For us, any suffering, confusion or tragedy is patently unfair and undeserved because we stopped trusting a God whose presence makes suffering, confusion and tragedy bearable. 

   -- William H. Willimon in The Christian Century (Feb. 22, l989). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 9.

Topic:  Discipleship

Subtopic: 

Index:  1015-1017

Date:  4/1998.1050

Title:  How to Find Life

   It would be just another illusion to believe that reaching out to God will free us from pain and suffering.  Often, indeed, it will take us where we rather would not go.  But we know that without going there we will not find our life. 

   -- Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out.  Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 10.

Topic:  Church

Subtopic:  Growth of

Index:  733

Date:  3/1997.10

Title:  Recipe for Church Growth

   The early church was not market driven.  It did not make Christianity particularly user-friendly.  Converts had to go through extensive, lengthy catechesis and examination before they were accepted for baptism.  In the ultimate barrier to new member assimilation, those who did become Christians faced the death penalty.  Nevertheless, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church grew like wildfire.

   -- Gene Veith, Modern Reformation, Jul/Aug 1996, p. 6.

He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him. (Acts 22:13 NIVUS)

 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, (Acts 9:18 NIVUS)

 "Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.  You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.  And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.' (Acts 22:14-16 NIVUS)

and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in DamascusAt once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?"  Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:19-22 NIVUS)

 ------ I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.  Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:17-18 NIVUS)

 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. (Acts 9:23-24 NIVUS)

 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas (father-in-law of Herod Antipas) had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.  But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:32-33 NIVUS)

 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.  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.  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.  So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.  He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. (Acts 9:25-29 NIVUS)

DEBATE: In Jerusalem, Saul picked up the same debate with the Grecian Hellenist Jews, and with the same spirit, that Stephan left off with before Saul aided and abetted his death by stoning.

Topic:  Forgiveness

Subtopic: 

Index:  1314-1316

Date:  6/1998.1302

Title:  A Modern-Day Paul

   A modern-day Paul is Chuck Colson. I had the opportunity to travel and speak on behalf of Prison Fellowship. I learned that Colson had the experience of not being accepted into the Christian community. Can you believe that? This is the man who wrote Loving God and The Body.

   Colson had been Richard Nixon's close assistant during his presidential campaign and his years in office. Colson was so ruthless in his dealings with people, he was frequently referred to as Nixon's "hatchet man"--the one who handled the president's dirty work. One person described Colson by saying he'd walk over his own grandmother. It's not surprising when Chuck Colson became a Christian and confessed his wrongdoings that many people doubted his sincerity.

   After he served his jail term and began his ministry, many Christians were skeptical. If it were not for those who knew the reality of Colson's Christian experience and were willing to play a Barnabas role, Colson would have had a difficult time convincing people he was indeed a different man--a converted man.

   Thousands of people might never have been blessed by Prison Fellowship. We might not have Colson's two books. We might not have had half the New Testament if Barnabas hadn't been there for Paul.

   -- Rod Cooper, "The Kiss of Encouragement," Preaching Today, Tape No. 141.

Topic:  Religious Leaders

Subtopic:  Men of God

Index:  2071-2074

Date:  10/1985.19

Title:  Two Umbrellas

   Gordon M. Ferguson tells of meeting a Filipino Methodist Bishop on an Europe-bound ship. The Bishop told of his experience when he had come to North America as a student years before. The first Sunday his roommate appeared in the doorway with an umbrella under each arm. He offered to show the Filipino the way to his place of worship and then planned to go on to his own church. As they started down the street the Filipino thought, "If this man has this kind of faith and interest in my spiritual life, surely I should find out what his faith is like." He asked his friend to take him to his church, and he attended it all four years. As a result he attended Drew Theological Seminary and years later became a Bishop in the church. Ferguson concludes his story by saying, "There is such a thing as a direct call from God without intermediaries but it's rare. Usually there is a man with two umbrellas."

"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.'  "'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you.  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.'  "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" (Acts 22:17-21 NIVUS)

 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.  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. (Acts 9:30-31 NIVUS)

PEACE: The persecution that broke out after Stephan died out with the conversion of the leading persecutor. God does what is humanly unexpected and humanly impossible. God does this to display his glory for all to see and worship. He does these things in spite of human sin. Since Saul’s conversion was predestined from his birth (Gal. 1:15), this time of persecution was also ordained by God. But we cannot question God’s purpose.

What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?  Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." (Romans 3:3-4 NIVUS)

SIGNIFICANCE: For Saul, the significance of the gospel was always traced back to his own conversion experience and its outworking in his life and thought. This conversion of Saul of Tarsus has been considered one of the most crucial events in the history of God’s dealing with humanity. This man will dominate the rest of the book of Acts and, as the apostle to the Gentiles, lead the way in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. As we have seen, the two events of Saul’s conversion and calling came simultaneously.

Conclusion:

          We might take note of the features of a typical biblical conversion:

1.       Conversion comes as a result of divine initiative (no room for pride or works).

a.       Jesus initiates the encounter with Saul (he is able to save the least likely people).

b.       Paul has no qualms about admitting that he did nothing to merit salvation.

                   (1)     He was the worst of sinners (1Tim. 1:16)

(2)     He was shown mercy so that he might be an example of the unlimited patience of God (Eph. 2:9).

(3)     It is God who causes his light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2Cor. 4:6).

2.       There is a personal encounter with Christ (for which he may use us to lead them).

          a.       We all meet Jesus in different ways.

b.       But if we are converted, we not only have met him but have entered into a personal relationship with him.

(1)     Jesus said that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3).

(2)     D. A. Carson said that, “Eternal life is not so much everlasting life as personal knowledge of the Everlasting One.”

3.       There is a surrender to the Lordship of Christ (this is the proper response to grace – a gospel without the necessity of surrender is trickery).

a.       Saul evidenced this by his fast for three days, indicating that until he completed the process that began on the road, he was not going to cease from his intense quest for God.

          b.       Such surrender is indeed the norm for all followers of Jesus.

(1)     Paul’s later calls for radical discipleship imply nothing short of total surrender to the Lordship of Christ.

(2)     Roy Clements says, “Conversion is at root not a decision, nor a commitment, but a surrender to the supreme authority of Jesus.”

4.       We see the important place of the body of Christ in the conversion process (in this religion of love, some of our greatest exploits are ventures of love).

          a.       Ananias

(1)     Probably the first words Saul heard from a Christian after his conversion were, “Brother Saul.” This must have been music to his ears. The archenemy of the church was welcomed as a brother, the dreaded fanatic was received as a member of the family.

(2)     Lloyd Olgivie muses, “Imagine laying your hands on someone who you know had been on his way to arrest you!” Here you see the love of the encourager reaching out to a new believer in spite of his past.

          b.       Barnabas

(1)     Acts on his trust and takes the risk of introducing the ex-adversary to the inner circle of the church leaders.

(2)     Tells these believers the story of Saul – of his conversion and witness. He represents the junior man before the senior people as a public relations man. (Later, Paul does this for others like Titus and Timothy as seen in 2Cor. 8:16-24 and Php. 2:19-24.) All new believers would benefit greatly from such encouragement.     

5.       Conversion is individual, not individualistic (we can place so much emphasis on our conversion that we forget our commission).

a.       Conversion is not in order to savor the experience but in order to witness about it. Along with Saul’s conversion came a commission, or ordination if you will – first from Christ and later from the church. For Saul, conversion and commission went together.

b.       Though all may not receive a specific commissioning to apostleship a Saul did, all Christians are called to be witnesses for Christ. Once we come to him, we become his ambassadors (2Cor. 5:20) to represent him on earth and communicate his message to the world.

I trust that the continuing ministry that the Lord may be pleased to give me will always be traced back, not only to the significance of my conversion experience, but to the significance of the outworking of my calling which came by God through Mayfair Bible Church. May God bless us all as we continue to serve him together, owning up to whatever ordination he has given us.

The Place of Christ in Our Conversion

May 23, 1999                         Acts 9:1-31

Introduction:

         

I talked last week about Saul’s experience with Jesus on the Damascus road and what that meant in terms of ordination or commissioning. He was first ordained by Christ when Christ appeared to him. The immediate obedience of his life proved it as he began to preach and testify. His ordination was then affirmed by the Jerusalem church and the apostles three years later. After that, Jesus reaffirmed his commission to go to the Gentiles. The unique feature of Saul’s experience with Jesus was that his commission was at the same time as his conversion. It doesn’t happen that way with most of us. Jesus had a specific purpose in mind for Saul. But we didn’t discuss what we could learn about conversion from Saul’s experience. This morning, I would like us to take note of the features of biblical conversion as seen in this passage. As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we must be aware of these elements regarding a true and sustained conversion, not only for ourselves but for others as well as we minister to them:

1.       Conversion comes as a result of the divine initiative of Christ (no room for pride or works). V.3-6  S.Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.

a.       Jesus initiates the encounter with Saul (he is able to save the least likely people), Rom. 9:16-18. It is in the fullness of God’s time, Rom. 5:6.

b.       Paul has no qualms about admitting that he did nothing to merit salvation. (What if he would have refused this gift? He would have died in his sins, perhaps immedieately.)

                   (1)     He was the worst of sinners (1Tim. 1:16).

(2)     He was shown mercy so that he might be an example of the unlimited patience of God (Eph. 2:9).

(3)     It is God who causes his light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2Cor. 4:6).

c.       If you are saved, it was God’s work. If you are yet to be saved, it is God’s work (Rom. 8:29-30). But if you want to be saved, you must ask God (Rom. 10:13). He causes us to call on him, Amen?

Have you ever met a proud Christian? A true Christian is not proud, he is humble. A true Christian is truly saved by grace through faith. A make-believe Christian thinks they might be saved by their works. Note features of Catholic funeral for Marie Grassmuck. So close and yet so far. Salvation does not come by communion (Jn. 6:53-58) or baptism or church affiliation or attendance or even by keeping the Law. Eph. 2:8-9 says by grace through faith, not just by grace. Grace comes through faith. That faith is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. He says, “Trust in God, trust also in me,” (Jn. 14:1).

Note the accomplishments of the death of Christ:

          Substitution

          Propitiation

          Redemption

          Reconciliation

          Grace

         

Note the application of the death of Christ:

Repentance

Faith

Justification

Regeneration

Sanctification      

There is a sense in which God took the initiative with all of us when Jesus died on the cross, 1Jn. 2:2. He may not have appeared personally to you, but through his Word, he has spoken to you. His Holy Spirit has convicted you because you wanted to listen, Jn. 16:8-11.

2.       Conversion contains a personal encounter with Christ (for which he may use us to lead them). V.4-6

          a.       We all meet Jesus in different ways.

b.       But if we are converted, we not only have met him but have entered into a personal relationship with him.

(1)     Jesus said that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3).

(2)     D. A. Carson said that, “Eternal life is not so much everlasting life as personal knowledge of the Everlasting One.”

3.       Conversion carries a conscious surrender to the Lordship of Christ (this is the proper response to grace – a gospel without the necessity of surrender is trickery). V.5

a.       Saul evidenced this by his fast for three days, indicating that until he completed the process that began on the road, he was not going to cease from his intense quest for God.

          b.       Such surrender is indeed the norm for all followers of Jesus.

(1)     Paul’s later calls for radical discipleship imply nothing short of total surrender to the Lordship of Christ.

(2)     Roy Clements says, “Conversion is at root not a decision, nor a commitment, but a surrender to the supreme authority of Jesus.”

We talked two weeks ago at Mother’s Day about our love languages, how we express our love indicates how we want to receive love. What is Jesus’ love language? What he did was many works on our behalf, the greatest of which was the giving of himself, all that he had, on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. I wonder if that is what he wants of us? I don’t need to wonder, I know it is what he wants of us (Rom. 8:36; 1Cor. 6:20).

4.       Conversion can be clarified by inclusion into the body of Christ (in this religion of love, some of our greatest exploits are ventures of love).

          a.       Ananias

(1)     Probably the first words Saul heard from a Christian after his conversion were, “Brother Saul.” This must have been music to his ears. The archenemy of the church was welcomed as a brother, the dreaded fanatic was received as a member of the family.

(2)     Lloyd Olgivie muses, “Imagine laying your hands on someone who you know had been on his way to arrest you!” Here you see the love of the encourager reaching out to a new believer in spite of his past.

          b.       Barnabas

(1)     Acts on his trust and takes the risk of introducing the ex-adversary to the inner circle of the church leaders.

(2)     Tells these believers the story of Saul – of his conversion and witness. He represents the junior man before the senior people as a public relations man. (Later, Paul does this for others like Titus and Timothy as seen in 2Cor. 8:16-24 and Php. 2:19-24.) All new believers would benefit greatly from such encouragement.     

5.       Conversion is clearly to personal service for Christ (we can place so much emphasis on our conversion that we forget our commission).

Conversion is clearly a personal experience. It is individual but not individualistic.  We are not saved so much for ourselves as we are for the kingdom of God. Being saved saves us, but we are saved for God’s purposes.

a.       Conversion is not in order to savor the experience but in order to witness about it. Along with Saul’s conversion came a commission, or ordination if you will – first from Christ and later from the church. For Saul, conversion and commission went together.

b.       Though all may not receive a specific commissioning to apostleship a Saul did, all Christians are called to be witnesses for Christ. Once we come to him, we become his ambassadors (2Cor. 5:20) to represent him on earth and communicate his message to the world.

RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
Get this media plus thousands more when you start a free trial.
Get started for FREE
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →