Series: The Book of Acts
Text: Acts 9:19-31
Message: “The Gospel in the Midst of Suffering”
“…the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – Acts 9:15-16
“…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
What’s the purpose of righteous suffering?
“…when troubles and difficulties hit, we are suddenly in “God’s gymnasium”—we are exposed. Our inner anxieties, our hair-trigger temper, our unrealistic regard of our own talents, our tendency to lie or shade the truth, our lack of self-discipline—all of these things come out.” – Timothy Keller
Q: How does God shape us through suffering?
What we learn is that righteous suffering is a call to embrace the gospel in three ways, through… (1. A New Identity 2. A Deeper Bond 3. A Comforting Presence)
1. A New Identity (v. 19b-25)
“…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. 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.”
2. A Deeper Bond (v. 26-30)
“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.”
3. A Comforting Presence (v. 31)
“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.”
TAKEAWAYS: When you go through suffering, remember that…
- You’re A New Creation
“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
- You’re Not Alone
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9
- God Sees You
Gospel: How can I know that God is with me in the midst of suffering?
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” – 1 Peter 3:18