While Peter was kept in prison, the Church prayed fervently to God for him. The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. Acts 12: 5-7
Believers pray fervently as sixteen strong soldiers guard Peter. He sleeps soundly between two. Why such extreme guarding? Peter is known a right-hand man of Jesus who thousands know with surety is raised from the dead by mighty God– His tomb was sealed, posted guards saw the angel at the entrance, earthquake shook Holy City and tore the un-tearable curtain of separation shielding the Holy Of Holies, and the dead came out of graves and walked the city.
Herod Agrippa may believe he is holding Peter but our mighty God has Peter in His grip just as He has you gripped. Peter’s faith unbreakable as he has met with our Risen Christ and is still with Him. Each of Peter’s wrists are chained to a guard. Quietly the angel’s light shines in the cell and angel taps Peter on the side awakening him. Peter’s slept soundly. Not afraid.
Peter’s not had an angel sent to guide him before this, that we know of, and questions himself whether he is dreaming or this is true reality. Like Peter, your caution is warranted too. The chains fall off his wrists, the guards do not awaken. Believers are praying for him and prayers are being answered as Holy Spirit’s activity is delightful for us to watch through Peter’s eyes. When there’s no way expect Spirit’s Way.
But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, Who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the Name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them to Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the Name of the Lord. Acts 27-28
Barnabas the encourager takes Saul to the apostles, Peter and James (Gal. 1:18-19) and declares he or she who has been an enemy to the Truth ought not to be trusted until he or she gives proof that they are changed. They have their proof that Saul is a converted soul by witness Ananias, three years of preaching Christ Resurrected in Damascus, and countless souls saved, Baptized, and integrated into Christian community.
The believers remain under tremendous persecution from the Roman government and Saul continues to be targeted for death by the Romans. The apostles take in Saul, accepting the introduction of Barnabas and affirmation of witnesses. Peter is not yet convinced that Christ is to be offered to the Gentile world but Saul has been given that clear intent by Jesus.
Saul is living with conviction in obedience to Christ our Lord. Unwavering. Unrelenting. The Holy Spirit is motivating him and the Holy Spirit motivates you. Holy Spirit makes you strong when you are weak, clear minded within our Lord’s purpose, and gives you words to speak when you open your mouth to witness in Christ’s love to save souls.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He IS the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked This Name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. Acts 9:19-22
Our proclamation after our conversion is, “Jesus is Lord!” “Son of God!” “Savior!” It is such with Saul whom, known for his evil persecution of Christians, others amazingly see with complete turnabout. Jesus has said, “Pray for your enemies,” and the believers have obediently been on their knees and had heads bowed in prayer in the marketplace for Saul’s conversion.
No one is beyond hope of conversion. There is not one soul on this good earth that Jesus is not pursuing, that the Holy Spirit is not speaking with deep down in their souls, and who is able to outstep our God’s sight nor His Power. Bow your head in prayer for your enemies and the fruits of your prayers will take hold in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Here is Saul ‘proving’ that Jesus is Messiah by speaking the Word unashamed, in anointing for healing, and through the Holy Spirit’s living witness to fearlessly proclaim that the Lord and Savior has knocked him off his high horse and he repented. Heaven is rejoicing, believers are supporting him in Damascus, and Holy Spirit is advocating and directing him.
So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Acts 9:17-19
With the laying on of Ananias’ hands the Holy Spirit powerfully moves to heal Saul of the blindness he experienced when Christ gripped him in his sins after falling off of his high horse. It has been three days of conversion and transformation in Christ for Saul. Saul now brilliantly sees the Kingdom of Christ within him and he knows it in others as the Holy Spirit shows him all things.
Baptism is the outward sign of the inward Holy Spirit cleansing of sin given by the blood of Christ on the Cross. Christ died on the Cross for Saul and He died on the Cross for you. Yes, Christ had you in mind as he died, then arose from the dead. For, just like Saul the Holy Spirit grips your sins and relieves you of sin’s decay when you humble yourself in Christ.
Christ’s love for you is His all in all. He desires that you take up His Cross and follow Him, learn all that you can from Him, and be obedient each day and even unto death with Him. It is with Christ you find the greatest inner joy of living that you’ve ever known, an abundance of guidance by the Holy Spirit, and tremendous restored confidence in His purpose for your life– all within His love for you!
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” Acts 9:10-12
Notice here that the Lord is speaking to Ananias in a vision by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Ananias does not think he’s dreaming, he’s off his rocker, nor does he believe that he is seeing an apparition. He is a believer and Christians know the Lord when the Lord speaks to us. “Here I am, Lord,” is immediate. This response is readiness!
Then the Lord gives a detailed description of what he is to do. Yet when Ananias hears that he is to go to Saul of Tarsus, he responds that he has heard about this evil man who has authority to bind all who invoke Christ’s Name. The Lord says, “Go for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring My Name before the Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I Myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My Name.” Do as I command, Jesus says, and I will take care of the rest.
And so it is revealed to Ananias and to us. How great a dignity Saul has been chosen for! Called on to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ, to serve Him in loving obedience, to offer Christ to the Gentiles, and to witness to Israel Jesus Christ is Lord!
Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:8-9
For three days Saul is in the grip of New Birth in Jesus Christ. Three days Saul relived his sins and listened to The Voice speak to him. Jesus tells us of New Birth in John 3:3, “No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.” New Birth is the transformation of the entire soul by the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit.
Scales had grown over Saul’s eyes, done by the Almighty Power of God, which not only aligned him with the state of blindness to Jesus’ Way but his blindness also turned his thoughts inward to Christ, as he was less capable of conversing with others. Saul’s fasting.
His blindness was a outward manifestation of what had happened to him. God has humbled him and is showing correction to the stiff necked Jews who put Stephen to death. For we see here the necessary elements of the New Birth: our complete humbling, the inward shake down of sins, and the powerful fire of the Holy Spirit that consumes sins by the blood of the Lamb Jesus slain on the Cross.
Now as Saul was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a Voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard The Voice but saw no one. Acts 9:3-7
When God suddenly and mightily attacks a sinner it is with the highest act of mercy. Mercy is ours through Jesus Christ for with our sins we may deter others. His attack of mercy may fell us just like Saul who falls to the ground of his guilt. The Lords Voice within our souls may be severe yet that Voice is full of grace while He rights us in Him.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Thus when Saul’s rage against believers comes to height then our Lord powerfully acts, teaching him not to breathe threats and murder. Saul is halted. His is inexpressible terror by light and Jesus speaking to him. Light from heaven flashes. Jesus speaks within their hearts and souls.
The men traveling with Saul now stand for they too were felled to the ground of guilt. It is Jesus’ grace that fells, redeems, then teaches the believer. Jesus next sends Saul to a Damascus believer who will guide him in New Birth. For with New Birth we need a believer’s help and assistance who is Spirit led, Spirit fed, and Spirit sped (quickened).
Meanwhile, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to The Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2
Early Christians referred to themselves as people of The Way. We still do. The Way of Jesus Christ. Saul is on the ‘my way’ which degrades humanity and services the spoils of evil’s needs. He is The Breather Of threats and murder. Pray ” protect us from evil in My Name,” Jesus says.
Saul connives to take the paper authority received from the governor under Aretas the king, to go to Damascus to round up believers in Christ there and murder or take them back to Jerusalem. He is ruthless for the Roman authorities. The Way prays for him in the Spirit’s Power and strength.
Saul wears Roman blinders, acting on cold hearted and stiff necked faithlessness. Of Jewish birth in Tarsus in Cilicia but brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, educated in the Torah he breaths threats and murder at Jesus’ followers. “Pray for those who persecute you,” our Lord instructs. “I’ll respond,” Jesus says to you. John 11:9-13
As they were. Going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being Baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip Baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:36-39
As a new Christian you must be born again. For it is by New Birth in Christ that you are adopted into His family. So, led by the Spirit Philip comes to clarify Scripture about Jesus Christ, the eunuch confesses his sins and takes Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then their attention is on the water by the road.
The man asks, “What is to prevent me from being Baptized?” Nothing. Thus prompted by the Spirit both go down to stand beside the small pool of water. The man renounces the spiritual forces of evil, announces to his great number of attendants that he gives his life forever in obedience to his One Savior and Lord Jesus Christ Resurrected, and Philip pours water, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” as he is Holy Spirit washed of sin and unrighteousness.
There is Rejoicing!
What’s next for the man? My friend, the Born Again Christian does ‘Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.’ Ephesians 6:18. Born Again, you naturally engage in continual humble requests and dialogue with our Lord in prayer. I’m praying for you as you read this that the Holy Spirit anoint you with Christ’s New Birth, and a sign that you have New Birth is continual prayer.
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this Scripture, he proclaimed to him the Good News about Jesus. Acts 8:34-35
The eunuch was reading aloud from the Book of Isaiah, the prophesy regarding the servant Messiah who is Jesus Christ. When Philip runs alongside the chariot, then the man asks him to come up to talk with him about the Scripture, we again see the Holy Spirit at work in a heart hungry to receive salvation. Hungry hearts need Jesus.
For you can understand with your mind the humble offer that Christ makes to you as the only servant to salvation yet it is with your heart that by faith you believe. Then the Holy Spirit convicts your heart in such a way that you find that all your hopes, dreams, and desires are actually met in Christ. Christ is everything and His Kingdom is revealed. At Baptism you are sealed in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Good News began when God came down from heaven with a babe in His arms out of His love for you. That child, born to a virgin woman, was God’s own beloved Servant Son. Read aloud, learn with your heart from Scriptures, which also tell of the suffering Servant at the Cross. After Jesus Christ’s glorious Resurrection and at Pentecost abundant life in Jesus is given to us. Christ breathed the Holy Spirit (His real Presence) into believers back then and into hungry hearts now.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Acts 8:29-31
The Holy Spirit leads in each salvation event. The Scriptures are in the chariot already. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God which is what Jesus teaches us on the Emmaus Road after He has been Resurrected. The Word of God is God’s Good News found in Jesus Christ and the story of how salvation has come for us. Jesus is the prophesied Savior. Salvation alone is in Jesus Christ.
Philip has previously listened to Peter and John speak this Good News story which convinces and convicts. Philip has preached before the multitudes in Samaria where they gave their humble lives to Christ and were annointed with the Holy Spirit by Peter and John. Let us eagerly view the unfolding of The Secretary of the Queen’s Treasury conversion to Christ’s salvation, a Jewish prostelite needing the Savior.
The man in the chariot does not understand what he is reading from Isaiah and needs a Christian to help him know the full event of Jesus’ suffering death on the Cross, that with His stripes we are healed, His love for this man, and his need for Baptism where the Holy Spirit will be anointing him. Philip’s lead-in question, “Do you understand what you are reading” opens the way for talking. We use this lead-in too.
But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the Good News about the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were Baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being Baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place. Acts 8:12-13
Simon the magician had been amazing townsfolk then he is saved by Christ and he realizes that Philip is Christ’s real deal. Where Simon had been fooling the people with his performances of magic, Philip is being used by Christ to do Christ’s preaching and healing work. Then by his one action he is defiled. Simon tries to buy his way into being an apostle; Simon is professing false witness.
Jesus shows us what this defilement is: ‘Then Jesus called the crowd to Him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then He said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”‘ Matthew 15:10-20
Christ cleanses defilement when we repent from our sin. Jesus is with God at the beginning of Creation; for 3 years He speaks only what the Heavenly Father tells Him to speak; Jesus and the Heavenly Father are One. What Jesus Christ began in the hearts of believers when He was alive on earth He continues, and magnifies, in the hearts of believers by the Power of the Holy Spirit. My friend, may your intentions be rooted in Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord.