GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Becoming a Messenger of Mercy
Jerry A Collins
As we attempt to give the gospel to our unsaved friends we can be tempted to dump on them. Pull out the ďSĒ word right away and do some Bible thumping. Tell them about hell and try to scare them out of it. Now the truth is, they are sinners and there is a hell and they are going there if they are not delivered by Christ. And it is equally true that people have had genuine conversions because this tactic was used. However, in our passage, there is also another approach. It is becoming a messenger of mercy. It is explaining the mercy and grace of God to deliver sinners from the consequences of their sin without deserving to be so. Itís an appeal to respond to the grace and mercy of God for your salvation. Here we are given some direction to this approach by the apostle Paulís own defense and testimony to his own rebellious people. Even the rebellious ones, those who have continually refused the gospelís advances, should still be given this message. You would think the opposite with people who have refused again and again to receive the gospel. Yet, given one more opportunity, he does not bible dump on them, but uses his lifeís message as a context for explaining the grace and mercy of God.
1. I WAS ONCE WHERE YOU ARE NOW† -22:5
Just as Paul has been whisked away into Gentile hands, so has he been since his ministry began.
(1) 37-39 designed to show that
jumping to false conclusions about Paul baseless. First, he spoke Greek,
meaning he was probably not Second, the Egyptian who led an
uprising nor Third part of an assassination team. Paul was far from
that. Instead, just to clear up the confusion, he is a Jew of good standing
wanting to passionately see his countrymen come to faith in Christ. He must try
once more to reach the
(2) 40-22:5 he begins his speech and it begins as Stephenís did in chp 7. They complement one another. Stephen emphasizes their guilt; Paul the grace of God that overcomes this guilt. He himself is living proof of that. And proper that Paulís speech last of the two. The darker backdrop of manís sin the more brilliant the glow of Godís mercy.
(1) 40-22:2 he attempts to identify with those he desires to reach. He begins this effort by speaking to them in their own language. Here is a vigorous effort to find rapport with his hearers and express his compassion to them.
2. I CALLED ON JESUS NAME AND HE DELIVERED ME 6-16
The gospel message is a message of deliverance. In this section, we see this truth unfold by means of Paulís conversion experience. First, describing his encounter with the Lord vs 6-11. this encounter included a very bright light. Itís appearance in brightest part of the day. Then he notes how Jesus describes himself as the Nazarene vs 8. The contrast between the heavenly splendor, vs 6 and the earthly identification of his Lord is a way to appeal to his audience, these Jews, and that they too must discover how wrong they were about Christ. The two questions, Who are you, Lord? and What shall I do Lord? Are the 2 basic questions in any personís relationship to JC. They are also in the right order. First, His identity must be known and believed. Second, his instructions must be known and obeyed. The 1st Ď?í is crucial to experience of salvation and the 2nd Ď?í is crucial to the experience of discipleship.
Second, his conversion experience included his contact with Ananias in Vs 12-16. This testimony would confirm that both the light and the message could be authenticated. The law stipulated 2 or 3 witnesses to verify testimony (Dt ) and Paulís own claims were strengthened by Ananias testimony. First, his character is affirmed vs 12. So the audience could verify this and having done so realize that God has put this all together. Next, recounts the return of his eyesite thru Godís work in Ananias 13. further authentication of Ananias testimony about to be repeated 14-16. This message has 2 concerns. (1) The sovereign intentions of God 14-15. These included the experiences Saul just had vs 14 and those he was yet to have vs 15. By sovereign appointment he had been privileged to Ďknowí to Ďseeí to Ďhearí. This is what made him the witness he was. (2) The responsibility of Paul vs 16. Paulsí message and books are a gospel of grace thru faith. Throughout Acts people have believed and then been baptized (Acts 10). Baptism follows salvation and does not cause it. A public rejection of God by the Jews meant requiring them to confess their repentance thru the public rite of baptism. This is the kind of baptism Jews had been called to all along under John the Baptistís ministry and message. There is only cleansing for those who call upon the name of the lord Jesus Christ and repent of calling upon any other name!
3. I DID WHAT GOD TOLD ME TO DO 17-21
†This third and last section
to his message revolves around his Post
conversion experience. (1) The rejection of the gospel by the Jews 17-18
meant that Paul had to leave
(1) Major on the grace and mercy of God toward sinners.
(2) Focus on giving the gospel not expecting a positive response.
(3) Identifying with your unbelieving past will motivate you to present gospel humbly.