Timeline: A.D. 31. Activity: the public trial and execution of a man named Stephen. Crime: Believing in, speaking about and performing miracles in the name of Jesus of Nazareth Who had angered both Jews and Romans by claiming to be the Son of God. Central character: Saul of Tarsus who had instigated the stoning of the young waiter of tables. In Acts 8:3 we pick up the story of Saul’s efforts to destroy the religious group, called the “church,” to which Stephen had belonged.
“Saul made havoc of the church by entering the homes of church members, capturing both men and women and hauling them off to prison.” Saul’s all-out persecution of the church has brought about a mass exodus of Jesus followers from Jerusalem–ground zero for what has been labeled a “cult” by both Jews and Romans. Both groups have found that forcing the zealots to leave Jerusalem was relatively easy; keeping them quiet was proving to be much more difficult. Wherever the carpenter’s disciples went they spoke about Him to all who would listen. To the ire of both Jews and Romans, many were listening, believing and accepting Jesus as the Son of God. This effort on the part of the church simply added fuel to the rapidly-spreading fire that had begun in Jerusalem. Ironically, the word “Jerusalem”–historically the world’s bloodiest city–means “city of peace.” More blood has been shed over control of that piece of real estate than any other on the planet. And much more blood is prophesied to be shed in the future. Peace to the city of peace will come only with the return of the Prince of Peace–Jesus Christ.
In Acts 9 beginning with verse one we find Saul the Pharisee in hot pursuit of the carpenter’s disciples, many of whom had fled to Damascus. Saul, having been granted permission to find them and arrest them, was determined to do so. Initially, things went well for the arch enemy of the church as he headed toward the Syrian capital. Then things took a 180 degree turn for him. Every church child knows the story of Saul’s encounter with Jesus Christ. Therefore we will focus our attention on the questions he asked which is the subject of this series.
Beginning in verse four we find the mighty Saul of Tarsus, having been blinded by a great light and knocked off his horse, lying in the dirt hearing a voice coming from the heavens asking: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” At this point let us note a Biblical fact that few Bible owners believe: IN THE EYES OF GOD, TO DOUBT EVEN ONE OF HIS WORDS IS TO “PERSECUTE” HIM. Think about it. The Jews and Romans were imprisoning and killing the followers of Jesus of Nazareth for one reason only–BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED, OBEYED AND SPOKE GOD’S WORDS. We must understand that the Holy Bible is 100% of everything we know about the Godhead. It is in that Word that we find the mind, way and will of the Father and the Son. God’s Word is so important to Him that He called His Son “the Word” (Jn. 1:1-4,14). In Revelation we read: “… and His (Christ’s) name shall be called ‘the Word of God.'” God’s Word (Bible/Law/Scriptures) constitute His rules of engagement which must be believed and obeyed in order to qualify for eternal life. He asks: “Can two walk together unless they agree?” The Word “walk” refers to one’s way of life–how he acts, thinks and speaks. In order to receive eternal life our walk must reflect that of Jesus of Nazareth. This is brought out in 1 John 2:6 where we are told that if we claim to be the disciples of Jesus we must “walk even as He walked” while on earth. The Holy Scriptures tell us exactly how to walk Christ’s walk. No one, regardless of his religiosity, can walk with God unless he 1) agrees that His Word as written is Truth (Jn. 17:17) and 2) obeys that Truth. L.J.