Shaped the history of Christianity Acts 9 – 11
No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostles Paul. Even before he was a believer, his actions were significant. His frenzied persecution of Christians following Stephen’s death got the church started in obeying Christ’s final command to take the gospel worldwide. Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus changed his life. He never lost his fierce intensity, but from then on it was channelled for the gospel.
Paul was very religious. His training under Gamaliel was the finest available. His intentions and efforts were sincere. He was a good pharisee , who knew the Bible and sincerely believed that this Christian movement was dangerous to Judaisn. Thus Paul hated the Christian faith and persecuted Christians without mercy.
Paul got permission to travel to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem. But God stopped him in his hurried tracks on the Damascus road. Paul personally met Jesus Christ, and his life was never again the same.
Until Paul’s conversion, little had been done about carrying the gospel to non- Jews. Phillip had preached in Samaria and to an Ethiopian man, Cornelius, a Gentile, was converted under Peter, and in Antioch on Syria, some Greeks and joined the believers. When Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to check on his situation, he went to Tarsus to find Paul and bring him to Antioch, and together they worked among the new believers there. They were then sent on a missionary journey, the first of three Paul would take, that would carry the gospel across the Roman Empire.
The thorny issue of whether Gentile believers had to obey Jewish laws before they could become Christians caused many problems in The early church. Paul worked hard to convince the Jews thatGentiles were acceptable to God, but he spent even more time. COnvincing the Gentles that they were acceptable to God. The lives Paul touched were changed and challenged by meeting Christ through him.
God did not waste any part of Paul—his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses. Are you willing to let God do the same for you? You will never know all he can do with you until you allow him to have all that you are.
9:21,22 – Saul’s arguments were powerful because he was a brilliant scholar. But what was more convincing was his changed life. People knew that what he taught was real because they could see the evidence in the way he lived; it is important to know what the Bible teaches and how to defend the faith, but your words’ should be backed up with a changed life.
10:2. What will happen to the heathen who have never heard about Christ? Cornelius is an example that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him”(Heb.11:6). Those who sincerely seek God will find him! God made Cornelius knowledge complete.
10:35. In every nation there are hearts restless for God, ready to receive the gospel — but someone must take it to them. Seeking God is not enough —people must find him. How then shall seekers find God without someone to point the way? Is God asking you to show someone the way to him?
11:18 – The intellectual questions ended and the
Theological discussions stopped with the report that God had chosen, even if they were Gentiles. But joy over the conversion of Gentiles was not unanimous . This continued to be a struggle for some Jewish Christians through out the first century.
11:22-26 Barnabas gives us a wonderful example of how to help new Christians. He demonstrated strong faith; he ministered joyfully with kindness and encouragement; he taught new believers further lessons about God. Remember Barnabas when you see new believers and think of ways to help them grow in their faith.