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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Studies in the Book of Acts

We are looking at Christ's pattern for the plan by which man can be saved, specifically what man
must do or how he must respond in order to be saved. Consequently, we are studying the book of Acts
and we are in chapter 9, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus was an enemy of Christians. He was persecuting them. He hated them. He went to
the chief priest and got a letter of permission to go to the city of Damascus to persecute
Christians and throw them in jail. Saul had heard Christians preach - like Stephen back in Acts 7 -
but he had, to that point, hardened his heart and would not believe that Jesus had risen from the
But on the way to Damascus, that very Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus and He was not dead! He
was alive! He was risen from the dead! But, to help get the point across to Saul of Tarsus, Jesus
struck him blind and told him to go on into Damascus and find a Christian named Ananias who would
tell him what to do.
So, Saul went, blindly, into Damascus and felt so badly about what was happening that he fasted
for three days (9:9). Eventually, Jesus sent Ananias to Saul of Tarsus and Ananias laid his hands on
Saul to cure him of his blindness and so that Saul would believe that Ananias's message was from
Jesus. His message: "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins!" (9:17-18; 22:16).
Saul of Tarsus became a Christian; he changed his name to Paul and he goes on to become one of
the most well-known Christian missionaries in the history of the church.
At first, the early Christians did not understand or at least did not obey the idea that they
were to preach the gospel to those who were not Jews.
But Jesus gave the apostle Peter a vision in Acts 10 to teach Peter that all people who work
righteousness are acceptable to Jesus (10:34-35). So, Peter went to a man's house named Cornelius.
Cornelius was not a Jew and it was not lawful for a Jew to enter into a Gentile's house (10:28).
But, Peter understood that God wanted non-Jews to hear the gospel preached. So, Peter, just as he
did in Acts 2, gave a short history lesson about Jesus Christ. He told Cornelius and his family that
Jesus went about doing good (10:38) but was put to death by the Jews (10:39) but was raised from the
dead by God (10:40).
In the process of Peter's preaching, in fact early in Peter's preaching, the Holy Spirit came on
Cornelius and his family so that they too, like in Acts 2, spoke in foreign languages. This miracle
did not show that they were saved or that they were Christians. No, this showed the Jewish
Christians that God would accept Gentiles if they too, obeyed the teachings of Jesus Christ (10:45;
11:12). So, Peter commanded them to be baptized / immersed in water (10:48). Why did Peter command
them to be baptized? Because Jesus had said, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark
16:16) and Peter had already commanded Jews to be baptized "for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts

Paul Holland

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