The Miracles of The Transformed Life: Acts Series #20
The blueprint and the pattern for the Normal 21st Century Church are found in that first-century Church. For the Bible says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Nature forms us. Sin deforms us. Schools inform us. Prisons reform us. But, only Christ transforms us.
In Christ, we become a new person. A Christian is not just somebody who has become nice—he or she has become new. He doesn’t just turn over a new leaf—he or she receives a new life. Now, a Christian is not like a tadpole that has become a frog. The animal has gone through a series of changes, but it is the same creature. A Christian is more like a frog that has received the kiss of grace and has become a prince. We are changed radically and dramatically!
When the Apostle Paul got saved, he even changed his name. His early name was Saul. Yet, he becomes Paul—the greatest missionary, the greatest preacher, and the greatest evangelist, I believe, that the world has ever known. He was changed by the grace of God. What God did for him two thousand years ago, He wants to do for us.
Paul was a scintillatingly brilliant, well-trained, young Pharisee. He had deep, passionate emotions for his religion. He had rigid standards. He had his philosophy of life all worked out. He had a bitter hatred against Christ and the Church. He was persecuting the Church and had the official sanction to do it. He had letters from the high priest to arrest Christians and to put them in bondage. Many of them were put in prison, and some of them were being killed for their faith. The Apostle Paul was persecuting and making havoc of the Church.
On a particular day, he was on the road to Damascus. It was high noon. And suddenly, there was a blazing light at high noon. The Apostle Paul said that it was brighter than the noonday sun. Now, if you burn a candle when the sun comes up, then the candle looks dim. The noonday sun was blazing, and it looked dim in the light that shone around the Apostle Paul. It was so bright that it blinded him. He fell from his horse, and the Lord Jesus spoke to him and said: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul said: “Who art thou, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). And, He said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). He said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). The Lord said, “You go to a place in the City of Damascus, to a certain house on the street called Straight, and I’ll send somebody there to tell you what you should do” (Acts 9:6). Saul goes off to this place and waits.
During this same time period, the Lord finds a man named Ananias. The Lord comes to this disciple and says, “Ananias, I have a job for you to do. I want you to go to the house of Simon. I want you to find a man named Saul, and I have a message I want you to deliver to him.” Ananias agrees to go to Saul and to deliver the message. This is the background for the passage of Scripture for this chapter.
In Acts 9:17, we read: “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. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. 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 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? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
Do you want to live a transformed life? In this chapter, we will learn the miracles of the transformed life.
I. We Have A New Lord
In Acts 8:17 we learn, “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.”
Remember when Saul first met the Lord Jesus, he asked the two of the greatest questions that anybody in this world could ever ask: “Who art thou, Lord?” and “Lord, what would you have me to do?” The Apostle Paul spent the rest of his life finding the answer to those two questions: “Who art thou, Lord?” and “Lord, what would you have me to do?”
I would to God that everyone in the whole wide world could ask and have those questions. Who is Jesus, and what does Jesus want us to do? Paul didn’t ask, “Lord, what do you want others to do?” And, he didn’t ask, “Lord, what do others want me to do?” But rather: “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Paul had surrendered his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If we are going to live a transformed life, we must have new management.
There is some shallow teaching going in the Church today, where people say something like this: “Now that you have accepted Christ as your Savior, why not make Him your Lord?” If He is not your Lord, then He is not your Savior. I want you to understand this: Don‘t get the idea that salvation is like a cafeteria line, where you say, “I believe that I’ll have some salvation today, but no Lordship, thank you.”
The Bible doesn’t put the emphasis upon receiving Christ as Savior. The Bible puts the emphasis upon making Jesus Lord. When you make Jesus Christ Lord, He is, therefore, your Savior. Now, I’m not saying that He doesn’t save; indeed, He does save, but in the Bible, while the Bible mentions Him as Savior twenty-four times, it mentions Him as Lord four hundred and thirty-three times. When they spoke of the Lord Jesus, they called Him the Lord Jesus. Nobody is saved who has not made Jesus Lord. We cannot have what He gives—salvation—unless you receive what He is—Lord. The Bible says, in Romans 10, verse 9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Is He the Lord of your life? If He is Lord, you have a right to believe that He is the Savior of your life. You cannot have what He gives unless you receive what He is.
Engraved on the Cathedral of Lubeck, Germany are these words:
“Ye call me Master and obey me not. Ye call me light and see me not. Ye call me Way and walk not. Ye call me life and desire me not. Ye call me wise and follow me not. Ye call me fair and love me not. Ye call me rich and ask me not. Ye call me eternal and seek me not. Ye call me gracious and trust me not. Ye call me noble and serve me not. Ye call me mighty and honor me not. Ye call me just and fear me not. If I condemn you, blame me not.”
Is He your Lord? Is He Lord of every thought and action? Saul said on that Damascus Road, “What would you have me to do, Lord?” He’s under new management. One of the marks of a transformed life is a new Lord.
II. We Have A New Light
Let’s look again in Acts 9:17: “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…” Now, notice in verse 18: “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales…” He was able to see. “The LORD is my light and my salvation,”(Psalm 27:1). When you receive the Lord, you receive with the Lord a new life. You’re able to see things that you’ve never seen before.
Saul has been literally blinded and now was literally healed. However, the Lord puts it here to give an illustration and an emphasis to the greater fact that Jesus is the light of the world, and: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see…” (John 3:3).
We are not able to argue anybody into being a Christian. There needs to be a miracle. When a person comes to our Lord in surrender, God removes the scales from his or her eyes. He or she will see things that he never seen before.
Paul was brilliant. He had the equivalency of a double PhD. He could speak many different languages. He had saturated himself in the Old Testament Scriptures, but he didn’t know Jesus. Then when the scales fell from his eyes, he saw things he had never seen. When he went into Arabia, he put the Old Testament in his backpack and went into the desert. When he came out of the desert, he had Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Romans in his heart! He looked into that Old Testament, and in the tabernacle, he saw Jesus. In the Levitical offerings he saw Jesus. In the ceremonies he saw Jesus. In the law he saw Jesus. In the prophets he saw Jesus. In the Psalms he saw Jesus. The whole Old Testament was full of Jesus, but he’d never seen it before. When we are transformed by Christ, we receive a new life. Then Bible will burst aflame in our hands, and we will be able to see with the light of the Lord Jesus those things that we have never seen.
III. We Have A New Liberty
Let us look again at Acts 9:17-18: “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.”
Now, what does that mean? Well, 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, and verse 17, says: “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” He received power. Here was a man that had been bound by the law of sin and death. There is a new liberty that comes through the Holy Spirit. A Christian is not just somebody who endeavors set new personal goals of achievement. God energizes us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Additionally, the Christian life is not only a changed life, but it is an exchanged life. Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
He’s saying that Jesus, through the Sprit, has inhabited me. His divinity has inhabited my humanity, and now, I am filled with the life of God. The Christian life is what God does in us and through us. He’s the one who gives us liberty. He has not asked us to do the impossible. He is just simply saying, “You come to me. Let me be your Lord and your light, and I will be your liberty.
The Spirit-filled life is not for those “super saints.” Do you know what the Apostle Paul was at this time? He was a baby Christian. Yet, Ananias said to him: “…be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Every Christian ought to be filled with the Spirit when he gets saved and is born again. Later, Paul would write: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). It is foolish and wicked to try to do God’s work without being filled with the Spirit.
How can you be filled with the Spirit? It’s not complicated. We’re not talking about visions and ecstasies. We’re not talking about weird feelings. If you will say what Paul said and mean it, then you’ll be filled with the Spirit. Paul asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do? I am available to you.” What we surrender God takes. What He takes He cleanses. What He cleanses He fills, and what He fills He uses. Would you say it? Would you pray it today?
IV. We Have A New Love
We read in Acts 9:19: “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.” Now, look at what Luke, the author emphasizes: “…with the disciples which were at Damascus.”
In Acts 9:1 we read in the last chapter, “And Saul, yet breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest.” A few days ago, he was threatening Christians and is willing to kill them.
Yet, those he once loathed he now loves. When Paul’s eyes are opened, the first sight he sees is the face of Ananias. The first words he hears are these: “Brother Saul” (Acts 9:17). Isn’t that wonderful? Paul is now included in a local group of Christians.
There are some people who believe you can get saved and afterwards not love the brotherhood, the fellowship, the saints of God, or the Church. If you love Jesus, then you’re going to love what Jesus loves. When we are saved, we receive the Spirit of God into our lives. If I say that I’m born again then the love of God is shed abroad, in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to say that the love of God is in our hearts and not to love the Saints and the Church.
The Church is the Body of Jesus. When the Apostle Paul was on that road and Jesus appeared to him, do you know what Jesus said to him? He said, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Do you know what the Lord was saying? When you persecute the Church, you persecute Christ. Why? Because, Christ is the head, and the Church is the Body. When the body suffers, the head suffers. To ignore the Church is to ignore Jesus. To honor the Church is to honor Jesus. There’s no such thing as saying, “Christ—yes, and the Church—no!”
The Church and Christ are not identical but are inseparable, like a head and a body. A person cannot love Jesus without loving what Jesus loves. How important it is that we have this new love! Paul was with those disciples, and he was made strong. We need one another. The Church that the Apostle Paul once persecuted, he now fellowships.
V. We Have A New Labor
In Acts 9:20 we read: “And straightway”—that means immediately— “he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 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? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ.”
What had been Paul’s labor before? To destroy the Church. What was been his labor now? To build the Church. What had been his labor before? To minimize Christ. What was he doing now? Maximizing Christ. The biblical mark of a man or a woman who has been transformed, is that he or she wants others to know about his Savior. We must become soul winners.
Paul moves from persecuting Christians to preaching Christ and proving that Christ is the Son of God.” We are called and commissioned to share Christ with this lost and dying world. We may not all do it the same way. We cannot all do it the same way.
Dawson Trotman was the Founder of The Navigators. The Navigators is a powerful disciple making ministry. Many years ago, just prior to his death, he spoke on, “What is the need for the hour?” Here is an excerpt from his speech:
What is the need for the hour? For a beggar with a tin cup, it’s a dime. For a woman being taken to the hospital, it’s a doctor. But what is it in Christian work? I started to list the things we often feel are the need—those things which, if supplied, would end our troubles. Some say, “If I just had a larger staff . . . Many a minister would like to have an assistant, and many a mission would like to have more missionaries. Others say, “We don’t need more workers, but better facilities. If we just had more office space and more buildings and a bigger base of operation, then we could do the job.” In some parts of the world they say it’s better communications we lack, or better transportation, or better health care, or literature. Many feel the need is an open door into some closed country. But the Bible says, “My God shall supply all your needs.” If we need an open door, why doesn’t God open it-“he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth”? Some say, “If we just had more time,” or “If I just weren’t so old, if I were only young again.”
People have said to me, “Daws, if I had known when I was twenty years old what I know now, I could have done a hundred times more for the Lord. Why didn’t I? Often the biggest need seems to be money. Money is the answer to a larger staff, more facilities, better communications and transportation and literature. “If we just had more money.”
What is the need of the hour? I don’t believe it is any of these. I am convinced that the God of the universe is in control, and he will supply all these needs in his own way and in his own time, all else being right. The need of the hour is an army of soldiers dedicated to Jesus Christ, who believe that he is God, that he can fulfill every promise he ever made, and that nothing is too hard for him. This is the only way we can accomplish what is on God’s heart-getting the gospel to every creature.
The need of the hour is to believe God is God, and that he is a lot more interested in getting this job done than you and I are. And if he has all power to do it, and has commissioned us to do it, our business is to obey him and trust him to enable us to reach the world for him. The Lord could easily have said to the disciples, “You fellows are only eleven men, and you lack facilities and transportation, so all I want you to do is start the fire in Jerusalem.” But the believers in southern India say they are glad the apostle Thomas believed and obeyed Jesus Christ when he commanded them to go to the uttermost part of the earth. I understand that the Mar Thoma Church, the largest in southern India, traces its origin back nineteen hundred years to the work of this disciple.
Aren’t you glad Thomas didn’t say to Jesus Christ, “I don’t have a DC-6 yet.” “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore …” This is not only a privilege; it’s an order. “Go ye into all the world.” God doesn’t want you to take an island. He wants you to take the world. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” No man ever followed Jesus who didn’t become a fisher of men. If you aren’t fishing, you aren’t following.
When we become a follower of Jesus, we will have a new Lord, a new light, a new liberty, a new love and a new labor!