05/22/16 The Damascus Road Experience!

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Monday, May 23, 2016 Under: Sermon

Acting Like Jesus Series – Acts 9:1-9

Intro: The believers of the early church were known as followers of "the Way". Jesus Christ offered a way of life, a life that produced peace and an understanding of the truth and righteousness. Everyone who has a relationship with Christ has a Damascus road story to tell! The stories are different; some are more life changing than others. Paul’s Damascus road experience is one of the great documented testimony’s throughout the whole Bible. Paul saw Christ (saw the light) and from this point on became one of the greatest disciples of Jesus Christ. On Paul’s Damascus road experience the darkness (his separation from Christ) was removed because he saw the light! “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

“Carrying” The Olympic Flame: Modern technology and ancient tradition went hand-in-hand at the official opening of the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. This was how the Olympic flame was “taken” from Athens to Montreal: A runner (1) carried the flame from its home in Athens to an electric sensor, (2) which then activated a transmitter. (3) The transmitter passed the message on to a satellite, and (4) thence to a receiver, (5) on to the North American continent. The receiver activated a laser beam which (6) passed through another sensor, (7) to ignite the flame in an urn (8) in Ottawa. Canadian runners then carried the flame south (9) to Montreal, site of the 1976 Games. The Christian today must continue to carry the torch of Christ! If you have had a Damascus Road experience you will have something to shine for. You flame will be seen!

Text: Acts 9:1-9 “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

Application: You will have a Damascus Road experience if you have seen Christ!

1. Paul’s Pre-Conversion: Past Vs. 1-2

“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Paul’s past included an old name, Paul use to be Saul. Saul was consumed with a fierce anger and wrath against Christ and His disciples. Saul was given over to a fierce objective, that of destroying all the followers of "the Way" of the Lord. He volunteered—actually went to the High Priest and the Sanhedrin requesting authority to storm after the fleeing believers—to arrest and bring the believers back to Jerusalem for trial, he included women as well as men: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Acts 8:3

Paul had his past and it has been well documented for all of us to see today, we too, being no different than Paul have a past and for some of us it is our present. You are still in darkness and you have not seen the light. It is with all of Paul’s Missionary trips that he wanted the Gentile people to really know who Christ was; I too would like to help all of you see, really see who Christ is and the Salvation He freely gives!

2. Paul’s Conversion: Life Changing Experience Vs. 3-6

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.” Acts 22:6

It was while Saul was set on his slaughter of believers that he was stricken down by the light from the Lord. It was in the midst of his ferocious evil that he was saved. (There is hope for all, for anyone of us.) The light appeared suddenly, out of nowhere, unexpectedly. The light was from heaven. The light was great, that is, brighter than the noonday sun. Imagine a light so bright it actually outshines the sun! The light and sight of the heavenly figure struck Paul to the ground. Light, the very presence of God Himself, is the first thing experienced in salvation. God has to shine in a person’s heart for them to be saved they must know the face of Jesus Christ. You must receive light, the knowledge, the understanding, the awareness, the consciousness, the quickening that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God Himself. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Paul’s conversion started with a confrontation with the Lord. He heard a voice speak to him. He alone heard the voice. The others heard a sound, but could not distinguish the words. The message was a personal message to Paul alone. There was the charge of terrible sin, of opposing and persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus called Saul by his name, "Saul, Saul." Saul knew that the light and the person seen in the midst of the light and the voice had all come from heaven. He knew that he was being confronted by a heavenly being. But where was the heavenly being? Saul—stricken down, humbled, convicted, frightened—cried out in desperation, "Who art thou, Lord?" A person often knows and confesses that it is the Lord who is dealing with them; yet does not know the Lord, not really, not personally. You must cry out, "Who art thou, Lord? Tell me, show me who You are!"

The shattering truth is a real eye-opener to every person who opposes Jesus (or God). When a person really sees that they have been rebelling against God Himself, the Savior of the universe, their shattered, utterly shattered. They realizes just what Paul did, that he has been opposing God Himself, that the sin has been against God Himself, that he is lost, truly lost, separated from God and doomed to hell. That your life is a total wreck, being totally deceived and misdirected, bent on utter destruction. That you stand no chance of escaping the guilt of your sin and the doom of hell apart from the greatest act of mercy ever shown by God.

The good news here there was a surrender. Paul was devastated, hardly able to bear up under the weight of the sin for which he was now being charged. He knew beyond question he was the most terrible sinner. His only hope was to turn and obey the Lord Jesus. And, praise God, this he did. He did what every one of us must do to be forgiven of our terrible sins.

He called upon and acknowledged the Lord Jesus. He surrendered to obey the Lord Jesus. He asked the key question: "Lord, what do You want me to do?" The Lord commanded him: "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." Saul could not bear it. He was a shattered man. He needed time for prayer and meditation, for straightening out his mind and for assurance from the Spirit of God now dwelling within him. Saul needed the maturing witness and contact and companionship of another believer. It was going to take the testimony of a mature believer that Saul had been converted and undergone a radical change for the Christian community to accept him. “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

Paul’s conversion resulted from his Damascus Road experience.

3. Paul’s Post Conversion: Present Vs. 7-9

‘And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

There were the witnesses to the event, but they were not privileged to know what was really happening. They were a type of the worldly who saw the miracle of conversion, of God's marvelous grace, yet they never opened their own minds and hearts to see the light of the Lord, to hear the voice of God, to confront the Lord, to call upon the Lord, surrendering to obey Him. There was obedience. Saul did just what the Lord told him: he arose and went into the city. His eyes had been closed during the whole traumatic experience, blinded for three days. He was helpless and had to be completely led about by others. His mind would now be shut up in the world of thought alone. He would be left alone, to continue praying over his terrible shame, to learn and know beyond question that the Lord had confronted him. Remember: he had three days for the experience to sink in, to think through the confrontation with the Lord. To wonder what changes there would be in his life now. To switch his mind and his thought patterns, his purpose in life from the past life of religion to the present life with Christ. To wonder why Jesus was choosing him, the one who had so fiercely opposed the Lord. To wonder what Jesus wanted with him and what Jesus was going to tell him to do.

Conclusion: Have you wondered why God has chosen you? Have you had the Damascus road experience, God loves you, do you love Him? “Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NIV)

Our Lords will says: CARRY THE TORCH!

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