Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.  And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”  And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Saul Escapes from Damascus
 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,  but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him,  but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
Saul in Jerusalem
 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.  So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.  And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him.  And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (ESV)
- Jesus changes us
Paul’s story is a dramatic example of what is true about everyone Jesus saves. Paul experienced a radical transformation so extreme that other believers were reluctant to trust it. How could the man who persecuted Christians now be preaching the Gospel? There is only one explanation: When Jesus saves us, he also changes us. Through faith in Jesus, we are saved from the consequences of sin and its power over us. This freedom from sin is found only in Jesus and always results in a radically different lifestyle.
- Faithful ministry often brings fierce opposition
Paul’s testimony and conversion served as a compelling example of the power of Jesus and his Gospel. He was also a vigorous Gospel teacher and preacher, which resulted in many people coming to faith in Jesus. None of this was welcomed by the Jewish leaders. In fact, as with Jesus, they sought to kill Paul in order to shut down the Church and its ministry. Though this type of extreme opposition is foreign to most of us, persecution is increasingly becoming a more normal reality for many Christians in our country. This is because faithful ministry is often met head on with opposition from the world. Nobody is indifferent to the claims of Jesus.
- Conflict outside the Church, peace within the Church
Twice in this text, Luke refers to murderous threats and attempts made against Paul. These threats were also intended to intimidate anyone who would support or agree with Paul and his ministry. Consequently, these threats, which were aimed at Paul, also hit the Church. However, the Church continued to experience peace and growth.
- How did the Church initially receive Paul? What changed their position?
- How has Jesus freed you from enslaving sins? What areas currently need growth in terms of obedience?
- What, if any, opposition have you faced as a Christian? What elements of the Christian faith currently bring the fiercest opposition from the world?
- How can the Church simultaneously face opposition and experience peace and growth?
Call to Worship
My Help Comes from the LORD
A Song of Ascents.
 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we come to you as sinners seeking grace. We are disobedient children and this week we have forgotten about you, our true Father. We have not lived in light of your goodness and we have each gone our own way, pursuing our own glory rather than yours. Please forgive us of our sins and remind us of our position as heirs with Christ. Help us to die to our sin and make us alive in Christ. Give us a fresh passion to see your name lifted high and our world renewed. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
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