What does it mean that the Gospel has been made available to the gentiles? What does the conversion of soul mean for the modern day Christian and what are the acts of Peter?
Welcome to the Gospel centered podcast. My name is Josh Suson. I am a man in desperate need of the Gospel and, today, I’ll be your host. We’ve got a great episode of the podcast planned for you today. We are covering, basically, three chapters of the book of Acts. We’re going to talk about the conversion of Saul and what’s called the Acts of Peter. So, uh, what happens with Peter Story. We’re going to talk about how these two things are connected to one another, why Luke puts them together inside of his narrative. We’re going to get into what’s happening in the story, and then most importantly, I have a fantastic, what does this mean for you planned. So if you are not one that typically listens to the whole show and gets the “what does this mean for you” at the end, I would encourage you to listen to the end this episode. I feel like God really spoke to me inside of this “what does this mean for you”. As I was studying the scripture, it moved me and I believe that it’s something that every Christian needs to hear. So, uh, without any further ado, let’s jump into the show.
So last week when we left off, we were at the end of Acts chapter eight. We’d spent the last two weeks walking through the story of Philip and what that means, and we spent last week discussing Philip leading the Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ and what that looked like, and then talked about Philip’s dramatic exit at the end of Acts chapter eight. And today we jump in starting with Acts chapter nine, but we’re going to cover basically the story of Acts chapter 9 through 12. Um, so all I believe that these stories are really connected to one another. They build off of each other. It’s sort of this “meanwhile” situation. So we get a story in Acts chapter nine, and then basically Luke, what Luke is telling us is meanwhile over here, uh, something else is happening in those two stories, kind of coincide with one another.
They’re important for the continuation of what’s happening in Acts. They’re important for the continuation of Jesus’ call. So if you’ll remember, I’ve said it multiple times, but we’re talking about how, how Luke as he words Jesus’s command that the apostles should take the message first to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. That Luke uses this as a narrative format to build out the story of Acts. And so we’ve been on this journey. We saw what would happen, what happened to the Gospel in Jerusalem. We saw that Gospel began to spread into Judea and Samaria. And now starting with Acts chapter nine, we are seeing the preparation for that Gospel to start to spread out into the rest of the world. So what we’re going to do today is I’m just going to walk us through the story.
I’m going to tell us the story of what’s happening in Acts 9, 10, 11, and 12, um, what that looks like. And then we’ll talk about Kinda what that means and then we’ll get what, what does this do for you? So what we start with in Acts chapter nine is the character of Saul. So we’ve already heard of Saul a couple of times, if you’ll remember, primarily inside the the story of Stephen, and they laid, the people who were stoning Stephen, laid down their cloaks at the feet of Saul. Saul was there and watched. Stephen gets stoned to death, and then it says in the beginning of Acts chapter eight, that Saul was going out and beginning to persecute the church. So it was the persecution of Saul that’s pushed the church into Samaria and Judea, which we’ve talked about the last couple of weeks. And then we kind of took a pause from Saul’s story.
So we had this little glimpse of hope. So Saul starts to persecute the church. And what Luke does is says, don’t be hopeless because as Saul is persecuting the church, Philip for instance, is going out into Samaria and he’s telling people about the gospel and more people are becoming followers of Jesus. And then we’re picking back up on Saul’s character. And what we see at the beginning of Acts chapter nine is that saw is still making these threats of murder against the disciples of the Lord. So Saul is still persecuting all of Christians. He’s still trying to stomp out the message of Christ. And what he does is he goes to the leaders of the Jewish faith. He goes to the high priests and he gets letters to the synagogues at Damascus. So there’s the city Damascus. There’s a bunch of Christians that are growing in Damascus.
All the Christians are fleeing Jerusalem. Saul wants to go out and get these Christians. So he gets these letters from the high priests in Jerusalem. So he can go to the other synagogues and say, listen, I’m going to arrest these Christians under this authority and I’m going to take them back to Jerusalem so that they may be able to stand trial. You have to remember, as of right now, um, even though the Samaritans have started to get involved, we see the Ethiopian get converted, but as far as, uh, the, the apostles are concerned and as far as the Jewish faith is concern Christianity or what is now known as the way this is a way of Judaism, it is not yet its own thing. It is still a sect of Judaism and it’s still something that the Jews see as a problem of their own that they need to fix.
And we see this with, with Saul. And so Saul decides that he’s going to go to Damascus and he’s going to basically arrest these people and as he’s going to, he’s going to arrest them and he’s going to bring them back and ultimately kill them for being Christians. And on his way to Damascus, he is blinded by a light from heaven. Um, if you are a Christian, you have probably heard this story many, many times. So Jesus comes out of heaven. He, uh, asked Saul, why are you persecuting me? Saul says, who am I? Uh, who are you? Saul says, who are you? And she says, I’m Jesus. You’re persecuting me through persecuting the church. And then he tells him, why don’t you go get up, go into the city of Damascus and wait for, for further instructions. I’ll tell you what to do.
And then Saul after this experience of this bright, shining light coming out of the sky is blinded, and he heads into Damascus, okay, now while he heads into Damascus what he does is he decides to fast and pray to get direction from the Lord. And in the same time that this is happening, there’s a disciple of Christ in Damascus named Annanias. And so the Lord Sends Him a vision and says Annanias go and to this certain street inside of Damascus, to the House of Judas, look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. And Annanias basically says, sure God, you’re right. I hear you. Look for Saul of Tarsus, I know exactly who you’re talking about. Um, he has authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name, and Jesus responds to Annanias by saying, go anyways. I have chosen Saul to carry my name before the gentiles and also the kings and also the children of Israel.
So Annanias goes out to Saul and he talks to Saul and he prays for Saul. And Saul is healed He’s able to see, Saul takes on food, and ultimately Saul becomes baptized and becomes a follower of Christ. And so from that moment on, Saul goes out with the disciples of Christianity inside of Damascus and begins to preach and teach in the synagogues. And we start to see immediately that Saul is extremely educated. He’s very well at speaking. He’s very good at this. He starts confounding the Jews and ultimately he starts this, uh, proving that Jesus was the Christ inside of Damascus. And during that time, uh, we get this phrase right. We get two phrases in the back, the very last sentence of Acts nine verse 19. It says for some days he was with the disciples in Damascus and in verse 23 it says, when many days had passed, so these are very vague terms. Ultimately what we believe inside of this story is that saw actually was in Damascus for three years. So for three years he teaches in the synagogues, he, he’s proving to Jews that Jesus was Christ. And then ultimately the Jews began to plot to kill Saul. And so now the tables have been turned.
We start out in Acts chapter nine with Saul going to Damascus to kill Christians and now the Jews are plotting to kill Saul. Saul has to escape Damascus. We learn later in in one of Saul’s letters that the Damascan government has placed a guard on the city walls so that Saul couldn’t get out, so they have to lower him in a basket over the wall so that he can escape. He comes to Jerusalem. He has some problems in Jerusalem with people basically not believing him, thinking that he’s trying to trick them essentially and trying to get them. And so from Jerusalem, he heads onto back home to Tarsus, and then for a little while we don’t see Saul’s story. So now it’s important to understand that there was in that time, most of the disciples didn’t believe him, but Barnabas believed him and took him under his wing and helped with him to preach boldly the name of Jesus. And so, uh, it was he, Barnabas basically began to advocate for Saul that his conversion was real and true. But Saul had a problem with the Hellenists. And so the Hellenists, which who’ve we’ve discussed before, they decided they were going to kill Saul. And, uh, when the other disciples learned about this, that they kind of helped Saul create this plan to go to Cesarea and then go onto Tarsus. And so that’s where Saul’s stories sort of ends for now, is Saul heads on into Tarsus.
He’s now converted from being this pharisee that is hunting down and killing Christians to being the largest advocates for Christianity and for Jesus Christ. And, uh, he has now known through Christ that he’s chosen to go to the gentiles and to take the gospel to the end of the earth.
So then what happens in our story is we jump to Peter. So before we even get to the end of Acts, chapter nine, we jump to this story with Peter. And what, what happens is Peter does two things. First Peter heals a man who’s lame and can’t walk. He heals him and sends him on his way. Second Peter, um, restores the life back to a woman named Tabitha or Dorcas and he raises her from the dead. And that is the end of Acts Chapter nine. So we go from Paul having to leave Jerusalem and go into Tarsus and immediately flip over to Peter who’s healing people and raising people back back from the dead.
And uh, and then after that, Peter, um, we start to hear the story of Peter and Cornelius. And so again, this is another really popular story. It’s been told and preached many times. Basically there’s a, in Cesarea, there’s a man who was a centurion. He was a God fearer. What that means was that he was a gentile, he wasn’t a Jew in any way, but he feared God, so he prayed. He tried to be a good person. He tried to follow as many of the rules as possible. He, he really tried to fear the Lord, and what happens is one night as Cornelius is praying an angel comes to Cornelius and says, hey, your prayers have been heard by the Lord. He says, go send men to Joppa. Joppa is where Peter raised Dorcas back to life. He says, go and send men into Joppa and look for the one who’s called Simon, that’s called Peter. And he says he’s lodging with Simon a tanner, and the angel spoke and then left. And so Cornelius send men to Peter in Joppa. Now, while that’s happening, Peter, after he has healed these people, and raised Dorcas from the dead, Peter then is praying on a rooftop. When we get back into Peter’s story, he’s praying on a rooftop, right? And he begins to have this vision.
It says, uh, verse 10 says this, and he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending being let down by its four corners, upon the earth in it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air, and there came a voice to him, rise Peter, kill and eat. Now, this was a massive problem for Peter, right? Because Jews couldn’t just eat whatever they wanted to eat, and so Jesus in this vision says, Hey, Peter, go kill and eat, and Peter of course argues and says, no, I’ve never put anything common or unclean in my mouth, and the voice responds with what God has made clean, do not call common. And this kind of confused Peter, and at the time that Peter was confused, these men began to show up from Cornelius. Asking about Peter. Peter goes with them. They go down into Cornelius’s house, they gather all the people together. All of Cornelius is relatives, all of these things. And basically Peter realizes that this vision wasn’t just about food, that his vision was about God preparing the way for gentiles, and that basically Jesus is saying, what God has made clean, don’t call common. And so God has cleansed the gentile world and now we can’t call them common. So in the same way that Jews couldn’t eat certain foods, they couldn’t do certain things. They couldn’t spend time with certain people, right? They couldn’t even go into a gentile house, they couldn’t eat with the gentiles. Gentiles were considered unclean. And so now Peter realizes that this vision is something more than simply God’s saying, eat whatever food you want, right? That’s in fact, Peter doesn’t approach this vision in that way at all. He realizes that what this is saying is that you have to take the message to the gentiles and then the Holy Spirit brings the gentiles to Peter’s door. And so peter goes and he begins to teach in the same way that he taught at pentecost, he began to teach the gentiles who Jesus was, who God is, what that story is, and he shares the good news
with the gentiles and he tells them that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. And so all of a sudden what was a exclusively a Jewish story, what was exclusively a Jewish revolution. All of a sudden through Peter and the Holy Spirit, it begins to grow into something more. And now everyone who will accept Jesus will receive the forgiveness of their sins, not just the Jews. And as Peter was preaching and telling these things, the Holy Spirit began to fall on all of these gentiles. Here they get baptized and they began to speak in tongues and preach God’s word. And that leads to Peter declaring can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And they asked him to remain for some days.
So now where we’re at in this story, that’s the end of Acts chapter 10. So where we’re at in this story is that Peter has gone out. He’s converted Cornelius, all of Cornelius’ family. So the first gentiles are finally starting to get the message of God and through this vision of Jesus, right? They’re getting the story of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit is quickening their hearts, their lives are beginning to change, and now Peter is going to baptize them in the same way that the apostles were baptized in the same way that Jesus was baptized and now they’re becoming a part of the Kingdom of God. So in Acts chapter 11, what happens is Peter goes back to the church and he begins to tell them of what has happened.
He begins to tell them, um, the story of what’s going on. And I, I really think this is a fascinating interaction because it’s pretty clear on what basically Peter is saying, here’s the vision that I have. They are kind of confused by that. And Peter’s like, look, I remembered what Christ said for us and how could I stand in God’s way? How could I do this? And they realized that the gentiles had also been granted life. In fact, I think, um, let’s just read Peter Story. This is Acts chapter 11 verses 5 through 18. It says this. I was in the city of Joppa praying and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending being let down from heaven by four corners. And it came down to me looking at it closely I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, rise Peter, kill and eat. But I said, by no means Lord, for something common or unclean, has never entered my mouth. But the voice answered a second time from heaven. What God has made clean, do not call common. This happened three times and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at the very moment, three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Cesarea, and the spirit told me to go with them making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me and we entered the man’s house and he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and say, send to Joppa, and bring Simon who was called Peter. He will declare you a message by which you will be saved you and all your household. And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. I remember that the word of the Lord, how he had said John Baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit if then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us. When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I? That I could stand in God’s way. When they heard these things, they fell silent and they glorified God saying then to the gentiles also, God has granted repentance. That leads to life.
This is not a small moment in the history of the church. This is not a small moment in the story of the Bible, right? This is where we are at in the story where everything begins to pivot, that we start out in Genesis 1 with this worldwide story and from Genesis 1 to 11, we have a very worldly story that God is talking about the whole world. He doesn’t have a set apart people, right? All the people are his and because of what happens between NoaH and the Tower of Babel, God then sets apart Abraham and from that moment on until this moment now, the story was very much an exclusive story to the Israelites and God’s chosen people, but you have to remember that Abraham’s original command was not to go and be separated for the sake of separation. It was to go and be separated for the sake of rescue, for the sake of restoration.
God always intended to use this set apart group of people to rescue the entire world, to use this set apart group of people to show the world who he was as Yahweh and how good he was, how powerful he was, how glorious he was. So as the people began to get ingrained and driven into this part, that they are separate and that they are chosen and they are unique for God. It was always this world understanding and so now as God begins to command Peter to open back up the doors to this worldly story and that the gentiles had also been offered, offered life. They’ve also been offered repentance. This is a massive moment for the church and it leads to growing. Next in the story. Is we get this little update with Antioch, we kind of follow a little rabbit trail down with Barnabas.
So there comes this report that as people were being scattered out because of Stephen, down to Phoenica and Cyprus and Antioch, they began to preach the word of the Lord. They began telling people about Jesus and they began preaching Jesus’ message, and it says, the hand of the Lord was with them, a great number who believed turned to the Lord. And this report comes back to the church in Jerusalem. So the church in Jerusalem decides let’s send Barnabas to Antioch. When he gets down there, Barnabas sees what’s happening. He’s filled with grace and believes that it’s good and he tells them, remain steadfast with the Lord. And so then Barnabas goes to Tarsus to find Saul who was there, bring Saul back to Antioch and they preach in Antioch for a year. And we have this whole moment where they spend all this time in Antioch preaching and teaching.
And this is the first time that the followers of the way, the followers of Jesus began to be called Christians is here in this moment in Antioch. And then from there we come back to Peter. And this is Acts chapter 12. And basically what happens is James is killed by Herod and then Herod comes after these Christians. He comes after Peter, he imprisons Peter, and while Peter is in prison an angel comes to him, helps him get out of prison. He goes back and everyone is happy. Everyone is estatic that Peter has been rescued. Herod begins to search for Peter, begins to search and find Peter. He can’t. Herod becomes angry, and basically there are people revolt against him and then God because of Herod’s actions, an angel of the Lord strikes him down because he didn’t give God glory and he dies. And the word of the Lord increased and multiplied.
All right, so that kind of sums up the next big story. A portion of Acts, and I know that’s a lot of story right there and it may seem a little confusing. It may seem a little bit hard to follow, but there’s a lot happening here and the reason why I connect all this story together is because I think that is saying a couple of really specific things. One, I think there’s this purposeful connection between what’s happening with Peter and Antioch and Herod and all of these things with what happened to Saul and that is God specifically set apart Saul. He set Saul apart so that he could reach the gentiles so that he would be a missionary and to the gentiles, and at the same time that that’s happening, Luke is trying to show us, but the Holy Spirit is also preparing the church to receive the gentiles. So as the Holy Spirit is sending out saul to reach gentiles, the Holy Spirit is preparing the church to receive gentiles. We see this massive providence of the Holy Spirit and I think that’s, that’s pretty incredible. There’s some pretty incredible things happening inside of Saul’s story. There are some parallels here to Saul and Moses. Moses comes to, he comes to know to follow the Lord through this burning Bush that shows up to him in the wilderness while Saul comes to follow the Lord through a flash of lightening in the wilderness. When Moses questions God, God responds with I am who I am. And when Saul questions, Jesus, Jesus responds with I am Jesus, and in the same way that Moses was chosen and set apart to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Paul has been chosen and set apart to help bring in the gentiles. And then what we see more of throughout these four chapters is this parallels between the apostles and Jesus. Primarily inside. We have these stories where Peter heal a man and he raises this woman from the dead, and both of those times, both of these stories, we see these great mimics of Jesus and I think what has happening here is that as Luke is driving in, that the church is changing. The church is becoming something different, right?
So the church starts out in this deep truth of Judaism. We’re going to be the actual reality of what Judaism was supposed to be and it begins to grow to this worldwide movement. What Luke is doing as he’s doing this is bringing credibility by saying what is causing this growth of worldwide movement is by replicating Jesus. It’s because Peter and the other apostles are replicating Jesus that the world is coming to know who Jesus is, and I think that’s really powerful that Luke continues to put in these parallels with the apostles mimicking Jesus. This is what we’re called to be as the church, right? The image of Jesus onto the world so that the world will, will know us. And so I think that’s why all this is connected. There’s this sense of the Holy Spirit converting Saul, right? He converts, Saul he calls Saul to the gentiles, and then they prepares the church for the gentiles in this really powerful way.
And so I think one of the reasons why it’s great to read all of these stories sort of, even though it feels like kind of confusing, it feels like a lot to take in. They’re kind of jumping around. What we’re seeing here is this transition period where we saw this sort of at the beginning in like, um, Acts seven. It’s much shorter. We saw this in Acts seven. We saw this a little bit in the early stuff is basically we have these transition periods to where right before massive persecution was happening, the Holy Spirit was preparing the church to go into Judea and Samaria through some of the deacons, the appointing of deacons and some of these things like that, right? The Holy Spirit’s preparing the church and we see the same thing here. Now this is a much larger undertaking. Saul really begins to take on the mission to take the gospel to the end of the world.
He was going. His goal was to take the Gospel to the ends of all the earth as far as he knew it, and so the Holy Spirit is preparing the church for that, and I think that’s why all these stories are connected together. We see that as Peter begins to be in prison, and Herod begins to to basically stomped down on to the church that the Holy Spirit steps in God steps in frees Peter kills Herod saying no. It’s being made clear throughout these stories as Saul as getting ready to go, that God is here, that this church is real, and that the Holy Spirit is acting in this providential way to actually take the message of Jesus to the world. All right? It’s time for “What does this mean for you?”.
Like I said in the introduction of this podcast, this segment of “what does this mean for you” is very, very close to my heart. When I approach the Bible, when I approach scripture, to be honest with you, and this is going to be an an honest segment. Not that I’m not always honest, but what I mean is I’m going to be very transparent and blunt. When I approach scripture, I do it rather skeptically. I, I have questions that I want answered when I start to read through the Bible and in a good instance of that is let’s look at the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, right? Literally all these other moments that we see up until now is the apostles going and as the apostles go, they lay hands on people, they teach people and through the laying of hands and praying and teaching, the Holy Spirit comes into their life. They come to know Jesus.
This is very replicable. It’s very similar to what we see today. Most people today, when they come to know Jesus, they come to know Jesus through someone telling them about Jesus through the laying on of hands, through prayer, through teaching, but what happens in the conversion of Saul is literally Jesus comes out of heaven and flashes this flash of lightening and speaks directly to Saul. And so when I see that, I want to know why. Why does Saul get a specifically special conversion versus everyone else? What was happening here in the story? And to be honest with you, I. I still haven’t found the answer to that question. I’ve done, I’ve done a lot of study and I think there is some vague parallels like I talked about between Saul and Moses, but there’s not enough there to really say this is what’s happening. That the reason Saul has this extranormal experience is because Saul is supposed to be this gentile Moses. I think more what the parallels are in the story is Luke who was constantly referencing the old testament], constantly paralleling the Old Testament testament to bring credibility to the actions that were happening in the Christians and I think that’s. That’s what’s happening here.
I think one of the reasons Luke is doing all this is so that as the original audience reads, this, Luke is basically defending Paul, but that doesn’t tell us why God interacted with Paul separately or Saul interacted with Saul separately than he did with everyone else and it was obviously a different time. I can guarantee you I will continue to study the story, but as I approached that skeptically and I began because I approached that, began to study. I began to look for the answer to this question. I began to dive into my studying tools to find that answer, but ultimately I began to pray. God enlightened me. What’s happening here in this story. Enlightened me what’s happening in Acts chapter nine and beyond so that I can understand what’s really happening and what I felt like happened in the midst of my study and this is where we get to what this means for you is I was asking the wrong question.] I wasn’t necessarily looking at the right thing, not for today, not for right now. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to study the conversion of Saul and the life of Saul and what that looks like and how is that different and continue to study the languages in the Old Testament and find connections and parallels constantly because I will. I will continue to dig back and pull back the layers of the scripture.
What I felt the Holy Spirit convict on me was that there is something else happening here and it’s massively relevant. And here’s what I mean by that. In Acts chapter nine, well actually in Acts chapter eight, Saul begins to push this persecution onto the church and the church was in an extremely bleak place. They were basically all having to spread out from Jerusalem so that because Paul, they were basically having to spread out from Jerusalem because Saul was trying to kill them and and we talked about in one of those episodes, one of the past episodes. How’d the persecution of men can often seem like the like the providence of God and then it seems like a really wise thing to say, but it is a wisdom of hindsight. It’s very hard when you are the one that’s actually being chased down to be murdered, to see the providence of God in that process and we can try and we talk about trying, but it’s hard in. It is also very true that the church was in a very precarious situation.
How do you preach the Gospel when you walk out on the streets and someone’s going to kill you for doing it? Right? There’s this sense of romanticism to martyrdom, right? I’ll go out there and I’ll stand up for my beliefs and I’ll get killed doing it and that’ll be meaningful, but now less people are going to hear what you believe because you’ve been snuffed out, so there’s more to this than just say it anyways. There’s more strategy to what we have to do in the begin to to disseminate, right, and the church was in a really bad place and I imagine that it felt rather hopeless and I would in no way compare where we’re at today in the church to where the church was at under Herod and Saul, but I think there’s some really deep relevance here for us today because we face a different sense of persecution, right? We face a social persecution. We face an emotional persecution. We faced an intellectual persecution. So what happens today is if you’re a Christian, you become a bigot. You become intolerant. You become a moron, a science denier right? Immediately by throwing in your towel with Christ most of the world wraps us into this, this group of people that that are mean and terrible and horrible and ignorant, and they look down on us and I believe even some try to leave us out of things because we are intolerant and I’ve often said this, look how the world right now is saying tolerate everyone, but Christians tolerate all religions but Christianity and that puts us in a very precarious situation. It doesn’t put us in a precarious situation in our churches. We’re not at a threat of someone killing us when we go to church, but it puts us in a precarious situation with our neighbors. It puts us in one when we go to our jobs,
right? We have teachers out there listening to this podcast that if they began to share their faith with their students could actually lose their job. And all over the world It’s becoming more and more precarious. That as you begin to stand on the morals and values of your faith, and as you begin to share your faith and preach your story, tell the story of Jesus, that becomes less and less tolerated and what that does is puts in us a fear. Like I said, I’ll be transparent. I’m afraid.
Today, I sit here and I’m a pastor and I’m watching people get banned from facebook and Youtube and podcasting and all these things and it’s all under the misnomer of hate speech and right now the people that are getting banned are morons who say really bad things, but what happens when the day comes that the story of Jesus is hate speech? Because it is coming, that day is coming. You can’t think it’s not. There is a real enemy out there. The real enemy is not the government. It is not other people. There is a real spiritual enemy who’s goal is to convince you of one of two things that Jesus’ message isn’t real or that Jesus’ message is unacceptable. It will eventually be hate speech and what am I going to do when the day comes that my podcast gets taken down and I face these really real fears and I know you do too. I know you’re doctors and teachers and salesmen and businessmen and you’re going to your jobs and you’re being told by your pastors that you’ve got to tell people about Jesus and the truth is you do, but you’re afraid. You’re afraid to tell people about Jesus because you’re afraid of losing your job. You’re afraid of losing your family’s livelihood.
You’re afraid of being made fun of. You’re afraid of losing your friends, and I’m here to say with Acts 9 through 12 that that’s okay, that it’s okay that you’re afraid, but what the scripture is teaching us through the providence of the Holy Spirit and the preparation of the gentiles is that you don’t have to be afraid.
That in your fear you can take heart because God is on our side and we see that at the beginning of Acts chapter nine and the end of Acts chapter 12. Two very important things happen right at the beginning of Acts chapter nine, Saul is persecuting the church and what happens is he is completely converted to Christianity and literally it says in the middle of Acts, chapter nine, that the church came to know peace and in it they were multiplied, and then at the end of Acts chapter 12, Herod starts to cramp down on the Christian and search or try to kill the Christians in God strikes him down and it says in that the world knew God’s message and this church was multiplied. We can read through these stories and see the providence of the Holy Spirit and began to understand that even though we may face persecution in that the holy spirit will bring us peace, and in that peace, multiplication will happen. I’m here to tell you that the story, what Luke is writing, what’s being said is that as a Christian facing really difficult things, you don’t have to be afraid. God is on your side. The Holy Spirit is made available to you.
He can empower you and move you in the same way that he moves these apostles. In this story, the other thing is this, even in our fear, we have to speak, we have to speak what we and we see this again in the story. Peter says, who am I to stand in the way of God? What a prayer that we should all pray. Who am I to stand in the way of God? That when my coworker is called by the Holy Spirit to come know the message of Jesus and experience the life giving hope that is the cross. Who am I to stand in that way? My mouth has to open and the story has to come out. It has to because what we carry with us is the truth. It is the only hope for the world. The only hope. There is nothing else that will bring this lost and confused world hope, but the story that we carry. Nothing else. Don’t be afraid and tell the story of Jesus. Now let’s do a one cool thing and then we’ll get out of here.
Today’s one cool thing is something that has really impacted my walk of life, my walk in Christianity. Um, it is a ministry called reasonable faith. It’s a website. There’ll be a link in the show notes. It’s reasonable faith.org. You can look it up. This ministry is run by a man named Dr William Lane Craig. Um, William Lane Craig is, to be honest with you, I believe he’s the smartest man on the face of the earth. Uh, he is an apologetics and this entire organization is about apologetics. It’s about teaching. Christians how to defend their faith, how to defend what they believe. And William Lane Craig does this all over the world with really prominent scholars and really important people and his ministry is phenomenal. On his website, you’ll find a podcast. You’ll find books, you’ll find question and answers all kinds of questions that range from what is penal substitution, just to what, where do we fit string theory in with God? I mean, he discusses all kinds of different science. He also runs a youtube channel. This ministry runs a youtube channel where he puts a Sunday school class on video on the Youtube Channel and teaches the pillars of the Christian faith. I’m telling you, reasonable faith has really taught me more about Christianity than maybe any other ministry in my life has. It is a meaningful and powerful ministry and I encourage all of you to check it out.
All right. That is our episode for today. I hope that you got something out of it that this story of the conversion of Saul and the acts of Peter moved you in the same way that it moved me. I hope you are encouraged to go and tell people about Jesus. Next week. We are going to continue on in the story of Acts. We are going to follow Barnabas and Saul as they move off and, um, continue their ministry and we are diving into Saul’s for ministry and what it is going to become. It should be a great study. And until then, I hope you guys have a great week.