x363......walk into Damascus
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21 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? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. (Acts 9:1-22, KJV).
Meeting Jesus is not enough!
Saul--the "enemy of the church" is on his way to the church at Damascus to persecute the church. On the way He meets Jesus--He is "turned around " by the salvation he receives from the Lord.
This is the harvest of his soul--but the harvest is only one part of the process of God in the earth-
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Genesis 1:11, KJV).
The seed to plant is in the harvest. The seed is in the fruit that the harvest bears. We are not made perfect by our salvation--but we are ready to move forward into our ministry. Like it or not--this is the example of ministry that the Bible chooses to illustrate--It does not illustrate an example that shows someone "working their way up" the ladder of the church hierarchy--by time and experience--by education--bible school--Instead it shows Saul--enemy of the church--saved--healed--baptized--and
".........Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God."
But in order to receive what you need after you are saved---In order to be healed--baptized and walk right into your ministry--you need to walk into the church of Damascus.
We need leaders who are obedient to the word of God with regard to ministry--with regard to healing--with regard to baptism--with regard to releasing ministry. The church at Damascus was a praying church--they are found praying to God--receiving a word from God that they did not expect--that did not fit in with their rules and regulations--A word that does not fit in with what you would expect about the enemy of the church!
They might have been on their knees praying to God that they would not be killed by Saul! But they listened to God--they waited--expected and received the answer from God that they certainly did not expect--and they were obedient to the word they received. They toolk in the enemy of the church--they prayed over him and he was healed--they immediately baptized him--and then--they did the most remarkable obedience--they released him immediately to minister the word of God--to represent their church! To represent Christ! They recognized the harvest in Saul which needed to be planted immediately --they did not have rules that said the first thing a new Christian need is to become "attached to the vine" of the local church.
We believe strongly by tradition that we must be "attached to the vine of a local assembly"--a difficult thing to find in the Bible! Jesus said that He was the true vine--that we are to abide in Him--not in a local assembly! What we are doing is receiving our harvest--and then re-attaching it to the vine! No wonder we feel rotten in church--no wonder we are bored!
We receive and consume --rather than receive and give. WE reap a harvest of the word and the Spirit--and then we waste the seed that is in that harvest--because we do not know what ministry is--
Ministry: the simple act of sowing the seed which we have received from the harvest God has produced in us. Ministry is sowing the seed of the word into others--through the forms of the apostolic and evangelical ministry toward the world--or by the prophetic pastoral or teaching ministry within the church.
Interesting to note:
Many read this chapter of the Bible and say--"But this is the grand and glorious calling of the APOSTLE PAUL--this is someone whom God used in a mighty way--this is an exceptional miraculous thing that God does here"
Well, if this is true, then where is the example of the "common Chrisitan"? Where is the example in the new testament of someone who meets Jesus, and then attends church every Sunday--pays the tithe--and becomes an usher in the church? There is none of course, because we operate the church differently--we are operating today in the Roman pastoral church instead of the Biblcal apostolic church.And whether we realize it or not, our thinking and traditional interpretation of Bible events comes ultimately from people who worshipped saints. Now, I can hear all my protestant friends getting mad--"We dont' make stautues and say prayers and worship saints--like those 'durn catholics!" Yes this is true, yet our interpretation of these areas of scripture which regard release to ministry largely follow Roman dogma of hundreds of years ago. We still look at Saul here and find many "excuses" for not taking this as common practice and true example in church operation. If we have a "work you way up the ladder" mentality in our church it's every bit as stultifying to the free release of ministry that Jesus gives, as the catholic hierarchy.
Arguement: "But look at these events--Jesus actually talks to Saul verbally! Yes, we "meet Jesus" but He doesn't talk to people today in this way--this is a special, one-time miracle intervention that Jesus did--and He doesn't work this way today--only for Paul."
Answer: Take a good look at the verses--note the red type--the places where Jesus speaks. Jesus says more to Annanias the disciple than He does to Saul! (Jesus speaks 38 words to Saul, and 90 words to Annanias--we counted!!) Again these attitudes come from our inherited catholic interpretation of scripture. Saul is an important person in the Bible--many of us have the impressions (and I have heard this taught in many scholarly discertations) that he was a "one-man ministry show" who carried the Gosple out to the world all by himself. We just dont' read the Bible. In the Bible, if you were an apostle, you were working in a group with others. Paul always worked with others--always--and in some instances he said that they had done the apostolic work and not he!
The people in the new testament Bible are not the glorious saints of old--they are rather the best examples of how to do things. Maybe we ought to get rid of all our excuses, and realize that the new testament Bible is meant to be our blueprnt for operating the Christian church--and it's a good one! It's an effective one! IT WORKED FOR THEM--WHY NOT FOR US??