INDUCTIVE LESSON EIGHT

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1 INDUCTIVE LESSON EIGHT SAUL S CONVERSION If you are reading this you are likely participating in a small Bible Study group. In addition to the blessings that come from studying God s Word together, one of the hidden benefits of small group studies is being able to watch God at work in the lives of fellow believers. God s remodeling of believer s lives is never more impressive than when testimonies are shared. My own personal conversion and testimony isn t particularly dramatic or sensational, so when I hear the powerful way God has radically changed the lives of others I listen in awe of all our Lord has done. Often, as others share what they were before conversion, it is almost impossible to reconcile who they were with what they ve become as God continues to transform their lives. The story set before us this week is just such a conversion experience. William Barclay calls it, the most famous conversion story of all time. 1 Because we will focus in detail upon Saul s transformation in our study, we will look briefly at another equally inspiring conversion which largely parallels Paul s experience. John Newton, best known as the author of Amazing Grace, was instructed in the Gospel by his mother at an early age. After the death of his mother, Newton at age 11 became a seaman on his father s ship. Newton lived a rancorous and rebellious life, eventually becoming the captain of his own slave ship. In an incident which he called the great deliverance off the coast of Africa while in the midst of a storm, when all seemed to be lost, Newton cried out Lord have mercy on us. Later while safe in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm, and that grace had begun to work for him. He left the ship for the clergy, studying under the famous evangelist George Whitefield. He was a close friend of John and Charles Wesley, and discipled William Wilberforce as a member of his congregation. It was Wilberforce whose work led to the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. Newton had the following written on his tombstone, By the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy. 2 In three consecutive chapters, Acts 8, 9, and 10, we witness three conversions that truly illustrate God s desire for all to come to salvation regardless of origin. You may recall from Genesis 9 that Noah had three sons from which all peoples of the world originated. The Ethiopian converted in Acts 8 was of the line of Ham. Saul in Acts 9 was an offspring of the line of Shem. And Cornelius, converted in Acts 10, was from the line of Japheth. This shows the true heart of God towards the unsaved. He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b).

2 The common thread in all conversions is God s Amazing Grace: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear The hour I first believed.3 1William Barclay The Daily Study Bible Series Acts Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1955 page 71 2http:// 3http:// Prayer Start by praying over the passage and asking the Holy Spirit to give you fresh insights and wisdom in understanding it. Then read through the entire passage two or three times. Memory Verse Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV Study Text / Worksheet Write down your observations, comments, or questions directly on the text as you go over it. Special Notice: Because our passage of study this week covers 83 verses we will omit Acts 8:9 25 and Acts 9:32 43 to dig deeper into the other verses. The omitted verses are important and necessary for the context of our study so it is strongly suggested that you read them. The Gospel Goes Out From Jerusalem Acts 8: Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

3 My Observations Digging Deeper Interpretation: Application: Ethiopian Official Converted Acts 8: Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and overtake this chariot. 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you understand what you are reading? 31 And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth. 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached

4 Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? 37 Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. My Observations 4 Digging Deeper Interpretation: Application: Saul s Conversion Acts 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

5 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. 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here I am, Lord. 11 So the Lord said to him, Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. 15 But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name s sake. 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. My Observations Digging Deeper 5

6 Interpretation: Application: Saul s Early Ministry Acts 9: Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. 26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. 31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. 6

7 My Observations Digging Deeper Interpretation: Application: Take Away / Summary If one of your friends at work or a neighbor were to ask you what you did on Tuesday, you would tell them you went to a Bible study. The next question would likely be, What did you learn? We often summarize an entire athletic contest or a movie in a few brief sentences and easily convey the essence of the event. Now apply these same skills to give a summary of the passage in a sentence or two. Then, in an additional sentence or two, describe what impact this passage will have on how you live. Memory Verse Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NJKV 7

8 Key Words/Phrases Write out the definition of these key words. You can use a regular dictionary or go to one of the Greek sources listed in the Tool Box at the end of the study. You may also use a concordance to see where else and how the word is used in the Bible. How would these phrases instruct or encourage us today? Persecution (Acts 8:1 and also Acts 9:4, 5) Laying On Of Hands (Acts 9:17 and also Acts 8:17) Tool Box Step 1: The Bible. Read the passage in a couple of different versions. If you are having trouble understanding a passage, choose a more dynamic version such as New Living Translation or The Message). To focus in on the exact meaning of a verse, choose a more literal translation such as New American Standard Bible or New King James Version. Step 2: Study Tools. Use these to help you dig deeper. Background Information: 1) Unger s Bible Dictionary 2) Bible Dictionaries online at biblestudytools.com and blueletterbible.com. Word Studies: 1) Zodhiates The Complete Word Study New Testament 2) Vine s Complete Expository Dictionary 3) Strong s Dictionary of Bible Words Step 3: Commentaries. Commentaries should not be used in place of studying God s Word directly, but they can give you additional insights. Some good commentaries include: John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, The Expositors Commentary, NIV Application Commentary, William Barclay (great for background and culture but be careful of his spiritual applications). 8

9 Herod s Temple During the Early Church The crippled beggar mentioned in Acts 3 was sitting at the Beautiful Gate. The Apostles taught in the Portico of Solomon or in the Court of the Gentiles. The Sanhedrin met within a chamber in the Sanctuary of the temple itself. PORTICO OF SOLOMON N Court of Gentiles Court of Women Treasury Court of Men Beautiful Gate Court of Priests R O Y A L C I V I C S Altar A barrier separates the religious area Sanctuary Court of Gentiles Holy of Holies P O R C H A R E A Great Stairs W 9

10 2014 Mark Newton. All rights reserved. Express permission granted for use and reproduction by Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, CA. 10

11 Message Notes 11

12 Message Notes 12

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