Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
Before Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…
Saul of Tarsus was raised in Jerusalem, was a tent maker by trade and was trained as a Pharisee by Gamaliel who was a member of the Sanhedrin. Saul worked harder than anyone else to impress God. We know that he persecuted the early church, that he hunted down members of the Way, that he was zealous for God, and was a Jewish “apostle” (one who is sent).
It is believed that Saul was present for the trial of Steven, a trial that resulted in Steven becoming the first Christian martyr. The book of Acts tells us that those that stoned Steven laid their cloaks at the feet of Saul, who was in full approval of their vicious and fatal actions. Saul later ravaged the church, entering the homes of believers and committing both men and women to prison.
The Road to Damascus: Acts 9:1-18
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4
These letters of Paul are sent for different reasons. The letter to the Galatian churches, to the congregations in Galatia, is one of rebuke and correction. Apostasy/rebellion was taking place, they were turning away from the true Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
An apostle, defined strictly by the New Testament, no longer exists today. There are three biblical conditions that have to be met: The person had to have been an eyewitness to Jesus after His resurrection, like those in the upper room or like Paul on the Road to Damascus (see 1 Corinthians 9:1, Acts 9), sent by Jesus Himself, like the 11 at the ascension or Paul on the road to Damascus, and had to have ministered with miraculous signs and wonders, as Paul did in Acts 19:11-12.
A modern-day apostle is chosen by other men and women who recognize a call on that person’s life or, it could be, as we see happening today, a person who claims that title.
But usually they would be those that are “sent out” from the body of believers to plant churches or spread the Gospel and establish new congregations, typically like the one they were sent from. But to call someone an apostle is to set them on equal footing with those that were an eye witness to Jesus after the His resurrection (i.e. one of the 12).
Peace and Grace: Grace: the undeserved favor of God, divine undeserved assistance. Paul always sees it as God’s unmerited goodwill given freely and effectively in the saving work of Jesus Christ. But not just forgiveness, also the present enabling power of God not to sin.
He sees peace as a result of the state of wholeness and freedom that the grace of God brings. It is a peace of conscience, a quietness and tranquility of mind, because one has reconciled with God in Christ. It is completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security, and well being.
Grace release us from sin; peace in Christ makes the conscience quiet. Outside of Christ, we are tormented by sin and guilt, but in Christ we receive redemption and freedom from both sin and guilt.
Present evil age:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.
Paul wrote out of love and concern for these people whom he had discipled.
- Has your life changed since coming to Christ?
- How are you influencing the world around you?
- Are you teaching others about Christ and His Church?
- Saul: Acts 7:54-8:3, Acts 22:1-5, Acts 5:34, 38-39
- Paul: Acts 9:1-25, Philippians 3:7-11, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
- See also: 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 6:4