Tuesday, April 8, 2014


And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. (Acts 9:20-22 KJV)

No, the graphic is not Damascus – it”s Raphael’s painting of Saul in Athens. It will do just as well, because it depicts what Saul began doing as soon as his sight was restored – preaching Christ to any audience. That also proved to be contentious wherever he went, beginning in Damascus:

And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (Acts 9:23 KJV)

So he went back to Jerusalem, the city where in Acts 8:3 we learned he made havoc in the church, scattering persecuted believers throughout the world. Now, in Acts 9:26, we find him returning to Jerusalem:

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. (Acts 9:26 KJV)

This happens in congregations today. We question the validity of a person’s relationship to God. Oh, we’re supposed to be able to know something about it:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:16-20 KJV)

We’ve been given the fruits in order to discern:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

For the disciples in Jerusalem, Saul’s fruit was evident in his action. It was easier for them to discern treachery in his approach rather than conversion. Perhaps we don’t see treachery, but the fruit we see is described better in Galatians 5:19-21 rather than 22-23.

Standing before the disciples in Jerusalem was a man who at the very least condoned murder, at worst committed it. How hypocritical of him to come now and preach Christ! It had to be a trick.

Perhaps we aren’t as open as the disciples in our rejection, but it is evident in so many cases that we expect the worst out of people instead of helping bring out their best. What we need is to be Barnabas.

But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.(Acts 9:27 KJV)

Are we willing to be the voice of Barnabas? Speaking not only with the newly converted, but speaking out for them? Stand with them as they learn more and more about God’s word, His promise, His work through the ages? Can we turn “Welcome?” into “Welcome!!”

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