Friday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 9:19-31

A Different Kind of Zealot

Upon Saul’s rebirth through the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ, the passage goes on to tell us: “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”  Immediately.  Saul did not wait one minute.  He had experienced the most powerful life-changing event anyone will ever have.  And while some who come face to face with the knowledge that everything they had ever thought was wrong will possibly harm themselves, Saul embraced his newfound faith with an even greater fervor than the fervor with which he had persecuted the Church before.  And of all places, this Pharisee turned Christian would enter the synagogues and argue from the Scriptures “proving that Jesus was the Christ.”

And so I make two points here: First, that no one need wait to share their faith and tell someone about Christ.  Granted, Saul had a knowledge of the Scriptures far beyond that of any newborn believer, then or now, given his education before his conversion.  Still, he waited not and neither must anyone else.  One may share Christ immediately upon their regeneration.  Second, we read that as Saul shared the gospel, studying the Scriptures (at that time, the Old Testament) and reading them anew in the light of Christ, he “increased all the more in strength.”  Faith is like a muscle; it must be exercised to become stronger.  The more we minister to others with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the stronger our faith becomes.

After escaping a plot to kill him in Caesarea (proving again that one may flee persecution), Paul tells us in his Letter to the Churches in Galatia 1:15-24 that he spent time in Arabia and returned to Damascus before making his trip to Jerusalem.  (Luke skips this bit of information in his retelling of the account.)  And when he finally did visit the church in Jerusalem three years later, the believers there were afraid of him, as is understandable.  Just a few years before, this man was dragging them off to judgment; now he was trying to join them.  What if he were really a spy?  But Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, stood by him and recounted his experience on the road to Damascus and his boldness preaching the gospel.  And so the believers rejoiced that the one who once persecuted them was now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy (Galatians 1:23).

The best antidote to persecution is the salvation of the persecutors.  May we never forget that the greatest apostle and missionary was once the most hateful enemies of the Church.  And so Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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