NTB-5-ACTS-3 - The Gospel in Samaria
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“Acts: Lesson 3”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
The apostle Paul, who was formerly known as Saul, asked this great
question: “Lord what would you have me to do?”
Today we're going to let the Bible answer that question. We hope that
you'll get your Bible and stay tuned as we look together in our study of the
book of Acts.
In Acts chapter 9 we now come to one of the pivotal conversions in
the New Testament: Saul of Tarsus, who has done much harm to the
church. He was there when they held he held the coats of those who
stoned Stephen. Acts chapter 8 he's wreaking havoc on the church.
Dragging men and women to prison, he's doing everything possible,
because according to his conscience he believes Christianity is a farce.
Now in Acts chapter 9 Saul is going to come face-to-face with the Lord
Jesus Christ. As Jesus speaks to him, and he now has to come that truth
yes Christianity is true and Jesus is the Son of God, how to those things
happen? What takes place?
Notice these principles that we learn from Acts chapter 9. First in Acts
9:1-2 Saul is still breathing threats and murders against the church. He now
has in his hand letters from the high priest that if he finds anyone who's, of
the way, any Christians, he can take them and imprison them. So with
those letters, he's headed down the road. Along that road Saul is
confronted by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus speaks to him and
says “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” Saul responds “Who are
you Lord?” That he realizes whoever this is the Lord and Master. “I am
Jesus whom you're persecuting. It's hard for you to kick against the goads.”
What a powerful impact! That that light shines around him. He’s blinded
because of that. “Lord who are you?” “I'm Jesus whom you're persecuting,
stop kicking against the goads.”
You know that idea, once he hears who it is and once he realizes
he's been doing things that he knows probably aren't right, kicking against
the goads- that which was pressuring, that was put that was forcing him in
that direction he was refusing that. Paul, who we now know it by the blood
name Paul, is confronted with Christ on the road to Damascus.
Then we hear the type of attitude that made Saul such a wonderful
servant of God. “I'm Jesus whom you're persecuting. It's hard for you to
kick against the goads.” How did Paul respond to that drastic message that
is going to shape his life in a whole new direction? “Lord what would you
have me to do?” Look at the immediate change that Saul of Tarsus is ready
to make. He's been taking Christians who follow Jesus and imprison them,
some of them maybe even murdered, wreaking havoc on the church of the
Lord Jesus Christ, holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen, and
now Jesus speaks, the miraculous voice of Christ appears to Saul of
Tarsus, immediately he's ready to change.
You know friends that tells us a lot about the heart of Saul of Tarsus.
The Bible says in Acts 23:1 Saul said “I've lived in all good until this day.”
When Paul when Saul is persecuting Christians. He really believed it was
the right thing. When he heard the voice of Jesus, there was no getting
around that truth, and he was ready to immediately change his words. He's
blinded on the journey, the Lord tells him “I want you to go into the city and
it'll be told you what you must do.” In verses 10 through 19 Ananias is now
commissioned to go to Saul and to preach the gospel unto him, and he
comes to Saul. When we think about Saul, who is in sin, who needs obey
the gospel, who needs to submit to Jesus- what did Saul of Tarsus do to be
You remember that great question. Acts 9:6 “Lord what would you
have me to do?” Isn't that what everybody, every person ought to be
asking? Let's get the Bible answer to that question.
Saul recounts his own conversion in Acts chapter 22, and I want you
notice what is said in Acts 22:16. The Scripture records, Ananias speaking
to Saul now, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and
wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.”
What did Saul of Tarsus have to do to be saved? He had to hear the
voice of Christ. Every person who is going to be saved has to hear the
message. He had to believe Jesus was Lord and Christ. Jesus said “Unless
you believe, you will all likewise perish. Unless you believe that I'm He
you'll surely die in your sins,” John 8:24. He had to acknowledge that with
his mouth, confesses Christ as Lord, Romans 10:10. He had to repent no
doubt. The change, you can look at Saul's life and a complete change was
made. Saul, just like every other conversion in the New Testament, had to
be baptized to be saved. What is it, I want you to think real carefully about
this with me now, what is it that separates man from God?
The clear answer is sin. Isaiah 59:1-2 “The Lord's ears not heavy that
He cannot hear, His arms not shortened that He cannot save, but your sins
and your iniquities have separated you from your God.”
Now if we realize the truth that sin separates us from God, we can
also know the exact moment in time when a man is saved. Wouldn't you
agree that if sin separates us from God, whenever sin is removed is exactly
when man is saved? When does that occur?
Listen to Acts 22:16 again. “Why are you waiting?” Ananias says,
“Arise, get up, and be baptized,” now watch this “and wash away your sins,
calling on the name of the Lord.” Sins are washed away when a man
contacts or a person contacts the blood of Jesus in baptism, Romans 6:1-4.
One cannot get around the idea that Saul sins are washed away when he
was baptized. Are we saying there is something magical or mystical in the
water? That's not the idea. It's the answer of a good conscience toward
God, 1 Peter 3:21. It's doing what God said to be saved, Mark 16:16, just
like in Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Sins are remitted when one obeys
the gospel, culminating in the importance of baptism.
Now let's look at another point that can be very vividly seen from the
conversion of Saul. What about the sinner's prayer? I hear a lot about the
sinner's prayer. People go around the country and around the world today
lot of a lot of teachers have done this, and they'll say false teachers have
said to be saved you need to say the sinner's prayer. Usually goes
something like this: ‘Lord Jesus I recognize you as Savior. I ask you to
come into my heart, and now save me.’
Did Saul of Tarsus know about the sinner’s prayer? Is there ever an
example of a sinner praying, and he still had to do something to be saved?
Friend if there was ever an example, it's found in Acts chapter 9 was Saul
of Tarsus. Notice these words in Acts chapter 9:11. “So the Lord said to
him,” that's to Ananias “Arise, go to the street called Straight, inquire house
at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus,” now watch this “for
behold he is praying.” Blinded by Jesus' light, hears the message, wants to
know what to do be saved, told to go to the other the certain house, and
stay there. He's there praying, and yet Ananias still has to come to him and
tell them what to do to have his sins washed away.
Listen carefully a lot of people have been lied to and duped into
thinking the sinner's prayer is in the Bible. You can look in your Bible from
Genesis 1:1 to the very last verse in Revelation 22:21 and you will never
find the sinner's prayer as so many people preach today recorded. There's
no doubt you find people praying. There's no doubt Saul was praying, but
he still had to do something to be saved.
When we think about the sinner's prayer, you don't find that in the
I was preaching in a gospel meeting one time, and I remember it so
vividly. I had taught from the Scripture that you don't find the sinner's prayer
recorded anywhere in the Bible, and the sinner's prayer, it cannot save.
After the lesson was over and service concluded, I remember there was a
lady, who was a visitor that night, who made a beeline to me to ask me a
question. She's making a beeline to me, and she comes up. She says
“Preacher,” she said, “I heard what you said about the sinner’s prayer.” She
said, “I'm going to go home; I heard what you said about the sinner's prayer
not being in the Bible.” She said these words she said, “I'm going to go
home and ask my pastor.” I said “Well that's good I hope you do. When you
ask him, if you tells, you bring back those verses. We'll look at them
together tomorrow night.” She is back tomorrow night. We opened the
service. She comes right in the door, makes a beeline for me again. I
thought ‘Well I wonder how this is going to go.’ She comes up to me, and
she says “Preacher,” she said “I went home and I asked my pastor if the
sinner's prayer was in the Bible, and he told me it wasn't.” She said these
words “I told him he was a liar.”
I want you to think about that. That man had been teaching people
will be saved and say the sinner's prayer. No telling how many people he
told that. One of the people who had been listening to him just asked him
about it, and said ‘I want you to show me in the Bible where the sinner's
prayer is.’ He says the ‘Well it's not there.’ She said ‘You've been lying to
people.’ How many people have been doing that throughout the world?
You cannot find the sinner's prayer in the Bible. There's nowhere that
says that the sinner's prayer saves.
Saul was praying probably for a two or three days as we read the
context, and he still had to do what Ananias told him to be saved. We want
to drive that point home, because so many have been told that's what
you've got do to be saved.
Now as we turn our attention to Acts chapter 10 and 11, we're going
to come to another very unique example of conversion. There is a very
good man, who is desperately trying to live right, but he needs to hear
about Jesus and the gospel and that man's name is Cornelius. You
remember Cornelius. The Bible records in Acts chapter 10:2 that Cornelius
was a devout man, one who feared God with all his household, who gave
alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. He's a good
man. He's trying to do right. He's trying to help others.
I want you to listen real carefully; good moral people still have to obey
the gospel to be saved. I had a neighbor one time who I tried to talk to
about the gospel. We were across the backyard fence and so I told him
‘You know I'd like for him to come to the church and like to study the Bible
with him sometime.’ His response was ‘I'm as good as those people down
there at your church.’
Well I don't have a church, to begin with, but nonetheless his idea
was ‘I'm a good, moral person and that's going to save me.’ Friend
Cornelius was a spectacular, moral person probably. He prayed. He helped
the poor. He was devout, sincere. He was trying to do the things to please
God. Good morally, good man, but good moral people will still be lost if
they don't obey the gospel.
It doesn't matter how much you do benevolently, doesn't how much
do in helping the poor, doesn't matter how much you do that is believed to
be moral and upright, if people who are good moral people don't obey the
gospel-they'll still be lost on the Day of Judgment. Peter sees a vision. He
is told to go to Cornelius. Cornelius also receives a vision, and he's told
that there's a man coming to him. Cornelius is at his house. Peter comes to
him, and he begins to preach the gospel unto him. What you've got here is
that and this is an amazing scene in Acts chapter 10. The door is now open
for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. Acts chapter 2 the Jews
heard it first time. Acts chapter 10 the the gospel is now going to the
Just as God promised the wall be broken down and all men the two
would become one in Christ, Ephesians 2:14-16. Peter comes to preach
the gospel to Cornelius. Cornelius is so overwhelmed and overjoyed about
this Jewish servant of God coming to him, a Gentile, to preach the gospel
that he tries to do something that isn't right, and Peter recognizes that. I
want you look in Acts 10:26 at what happens. The Bible records these
words for us, “As Peter,” verse number 25 “as Peter was coming in
Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet, and worshiped him.”
I want you to stop right there for just a moment and think about this:
Did Peter what did Peter do when this man fell down and worshiped him?
Did Peter say ‘Glad you're doing that that's probably what you ought to be
doing’? Did Peter say ‘Here's my ring .You want to kiss it? Also like my
funny hat? Doesn't it look good?’ Is that what Peter said? No. Peter didn't
What did Peter say? Acts 10:26 look at these words Peter said. Peter
lifted him up saying “Stand up. I myself am also a man.” You know a lot of
people want to venerate, want to hold up Peter, and want to say Peter was
better than others, and that Peter was the first pope, and that he is worthy
of worship and praise. But if that's true, Peter didn't know it. The Holy Spirit
sure didn't record it in the Bible. A Gentile comes in, and he decides ‘I'm
going to worship this man because he must be a great servant of God.’
Peter says ‘You get up. I'm a man just like you all.’ Men stand on level
ground at the foot of the cross. There is no clergy, laity. There is no big me
and little you.
The idea of people worshiping other people, or worshiping saints, or
falling down before Peter, or Mary, or the Pope today-friend that's not in the
Bible. The Bible teaches that's not acceptable before Almighty God. As
Peter begins to preach to Cornelius, he preaches that God is not
prejudiced. ‘He's no respecter of persons, but every nation that worketh
righteousness and obeys His will can be received by Him.’ Whether you're
a Jew, or whether you're a Gentile that doesn't matter to God. God's not
concerned with ethnicity. God's not concerned with race. God's not
concerned with how much money I've got, or how smart I, or any of that
how many degrees I've got. God is no respecter of person persons. ‘Every
nation that worketh right and obeys the gospel can be saved.’
What is it that Peter commanded Cornelius and those who heard the
message to do? Look in Acts chapter 10, and I want you to notice verse
number 48. The Bible says “And he commanded them to be baptized in the
name of the Lord, and they asked him to stay a few days.”
Every account of conversion, people hear the message. They believe
in Jesus. They recognize He is the Lord and the Savior. They're willing to
change whatever they need to change, acknowledges Jesus as Son of
God, and He commanded them to be baptized.
Here's another reason for baptism. Do we realize baptism is a
command of God? Can one overlook a command of God and be saved?
Well of course not. Jesus said Matthew 7:21 “Not everybody that says
‘Lord, Lord’ is going to heaven, but he who does the will of my Father.”
Another important principle we learn this from Peter's recounting this
is what Acts chapter 11 is about. Peter now is going to go back to the Jews
and recount the fact that God has opened the door of salvation to the
Gentiles. I want you to notice something very important he says in Acts
11:14. The Scripture records these words. Simon said or sir name Peter
said, “He would tell you words by which you and all your household will be
Friend to be saved, a person has to hear the word of God. Romans
10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by God's word.” The word is
where the emphasis is hearing the message, the all-powerful word of God,
the gospel-that's God's power unto salvation.
Now let's think about this idea. These people in Acts chapter 11 and
the people following that who obey the gospel, when they obeyed the
gospel when they submitted to the will of God, when they were added to
the Lord's church, what were they called? What did they go by?
Look in Acts chapter 11. Let's see what first century followers of
Christ were called. Acts 11:26 the Bible records for us these marvelous
words, “And when he had found him and brought him to Antioch, and so it
was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a
great many people,” and listen to this, “And the disciples were first called
Christians in Antioch.”
Disciples, believers, Christians those who follow Christ- those are
biblical designations of followers of the Lord in the first century. We don't
find denominational names. We don't find somebody called a follower of
John Wesley a Methodist, we don't find a Baptist, we don't find Episcopal,
we don't find Catholic, we don't find Presbyterian-those names and those
man-made denominational designations that cause mass division are not
found in the Bible.
May I ask you this, if being called simply a Christian was good
enough for Christians in the first century for followers of Christ in the first
century, shouldn't it be good enough for us? Shouldn't we be what they
were? Put away all the ideas and in the names and division of man and the
sectarianism. Hey let's just be Christians. Let's just be members of the
Lord's church. Let's just do what they did in the first century to be saved. If
we do what they did, if we're called by what they were called in the Bible,
we can't go wrong. Let's follow that pattern which God gave us so that we
could follow and live according to the teaching of our Lord and Savior
Now in Acts chapter 12 things take a rather dark turn. Peter is in
prison, and now we have a John who's going to be imprisoned as well. We
have now an evil, ungodly ruler who is trying to snuff out Christianity and
watch what happens in Acts chapter 12:22-23. The Bible records these
words “And the people,” talking about Herod “and the people kept shouting
to Herod the voice of a god and not a man. Then immediately an angel of
the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was
eaten by worms and died.” One is beheaded here, Peter then put in prison.
It looks like the church is facing great persecution, and the evil government
is having its way with the church. Is that what's going to happen? Is God
going to intervene? Is the Lord going to protect His people and His church?
Herod gives this, what they think is a great speech. They're just trying to
butter him up for political reasons. They say ‘that was the voice of a god not
a man.’ He didn't give glory to God. Angel of the Lord struck him he was
eaten by worms and died right there. Now what about Christianity? What a
Herod we know what happened to him? Is the church going to be snuffed
out by the evil government of that day? Notice in your Bible what the word
of God says in Acts 12:24. The Scripture says “Upon the death of the evil
ruler Herod, but the word of God grew and multiplied.”
Yes, there were evil governments in that day. Yes, there were evil
people. Bad things even happened to Peter. Bad things happened to John.
People died in this chapter. There were martyrs for Christ. But you know
what didn't get snuffed out? The power of the gospel, the word of God, and
the evil governments of those days did not win and were not victorious over
God's going to take care of His people. We can cast all our cares
upon Him, because He cares for us. God's going to deal with evil
governments and evil rulers. ‘God still rules in the kingdoms of men,’ Daniel
4:25-26 teaches. The principle we learn here is, let's continue to trust in
God. Let's continue to trust in the power of God's word, the gospel, and it is
the word of God that will grow and multiply. God will give the increase.
Back to the overall mission Acts chapter 1, you shall be my witnesses
in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the world. God
wants us to go out and preach the gospel. God's going to take care of the
things that happen. God's going to take care of evil people that might get in
the way of that. God is going to right the wrongs ultimately on the Day of
Judgment when Christians hear these wonderful words “Well done good
and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of your Lord.”
What we've seen in these chapters are marvelous examples of the
power of the gospel. Think about this: Christianity's greatest, single
greatest enemy does a 180° turn, obeys the gospel, and now becomes the
greatest, working evangelist that we read of- one of the greatest working
evangelist we read of in the New Testament. The door is open for the
Gentiles and thank God that it is for that includes many of us, if not all
today. The gospel truly is for all.
We ask you today the very simple question that the book of Acts
begs. Have you obeyed the gospel of Christ? Have you heard the message
of Christ? “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” They had
to hear words whereby they could be saved, Acts 11:14. Have you believed
Jesus is the Son of God, John 8:24? Are you willing to repent and change
your ways, Acts 3:19? Would you confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, Acts
8:36-38? Would you do what Saul did to be saved?
We ask you this, just like Saul asked Ananias, here's the question will
leave you with today- if you've not done these things, why are you waiting?
“Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name
of the Lord.”
We pray that you'll continue with us in our study of the book of Acts
as we look at these marvelous lessons together.
Study Questions for: “Acts: Lesson 3”
1. What did Jesus ask Saul in Acts 9?
2. How did Saul respond to Jesus in Acts 9?
3. According to Acts 23:1, did Saul think he was doing right?
4. What question does Saul ask in in Acts 9:6?
5. What does Ananias tell Saul to do in Acts 22:16?
6. What did Saul have to do to be saved according to Acts 22:16?
7. What did Jesus say we must do in John 8:24?
8. What separates man from God according to Isaiah 59:1-2?
9. When are our sins washed away according to Romans 6:14?
10. According to Acts 2:28, do what for the remission of sins?