QUARTER’S THEME: PAUL – THE DYNAMIC MISSIONARY EVANGELIST
UNIT 3: His Call And Missionary Exploits (Lessons 8-12)
LESSON 6 10/1/2016
THE CALL AND COMMISSIONING OF PAUL
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 235, 245
Devotional Reading: Jer. 1:7-10
Topic For Adults: Your Background Is Not A Barrier
Topic For Youths: You Are Created For A Purpose
Topic For Intermediates: God Has The Final Say
Scripture Lesson: Acts 9:3-9; Ps. 42:1-3; Acts 9:10-16; Acts 13:1-5
Memory Verse: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
You Are Called To Be A Steward
1 Cor 4:1; Tit. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10
You are the steward of God. The word “steward” (oikonomos) means the overseer of an estate. The steward was always a slave, subject to a master. He controlled the staff and ran the whole operation for the master. As a steward, you are made a minister of the mysteries of God. A mystery is not something hard to understand rather, it is something that has been hidden and kept secret, undiscoverable by human reasoning. What are the mysteries of God? They are: The truths – The glorious truths- of God’s word. Who are the ones to whom the mysteries are revealed? The stewards, the ministers, the believing servants of Christ.
Point Of Emphasis: You are a steward and with the mystery of the kingdom.
Prayer Point: Help me not to fail in my responsibility as a steward.
This week, we are examining how God called and commissioned Paul, the great persecutor. God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. No matter what you are today, God has the final say. He knows your beginning and can tell what your end will definitely be. We shall see the nature of Paul’s call and how he responded to the call to fulfil the purpose of God for his life to enable us learn lessons that will aid us in answering the call of God in our lives.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PART 1: THE CALL OF PAUL (ACTS 9:3-6)
The word call means a shout, to summon someone, to attract attention. Saul’s call was preceded by a light from heaven, vs 3. On Saul’s way to Damascus, his encounter with Jesus began with the challenges of a shining light brighter than the “sun at midday” (Act 26:13).
Damascus was a commercial city located northeast of Jerusalem in the Roman Province of Syria. Several trade routes linked Damascus to other cities throughout the Roman world. Saul thought that by stamping out Christianity in Damascus, he could prevent its spread to other areas. Saul refers to his call as the start of his new life in Christ. (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:8; Gal 1:15, 16). At the centre of this wonderful experience was Jesus Christ. Saul did not just see a vision, he saw the risen Christ Himself. Saul acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord, confessed his own sin, surrendered his life to Christ and resolved to obey Him.
Though Saul thought he was pursuing heretics, he was persecuting Jesus Himself. Anyone who persecutes believers is also guilty of persecuting Jesus, because believers are the body of Christ on earth.
POINTS TO LEARN
The missionary purpose of Paul’s call reveals:
- A Christian life as a new creature must show forth what Christ is like.
- It is through Christ-likeness that the proclamation of good news is understood by other people.
- The understanding of one’s ministry comes only from God. Men can only help to train church workers, teachers, ministers etc, but only God could produce them.
- God is able to change those notorious people around us and use them for the extension of His mission on earth (vs 6). The greatest shock of Saul’s life was that he suddenly discovered he had been living in error.
PART 2: BETWEEN THE CALL AND THE COMMISSION (ACTS 9:7-10; PS. 42:1-3)
Between the call and the commissioning comes the “place of preparation” called the “remoulding room”. Preparation before embarking on a particular work in the church of God or ministry is vital, so that the recipient is properly remoulded and restored for the task.
In vs 8, Saul picked himself up off the ground, indicates that before God can use anyone, the person will empty himself or herself so as not to be full of oneself. Saul was brought very low, broken to the ground and finally repackaged by God to be used. God revealed His greatness, vs 7. The men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man. The companions of Saul left the presence of the Lord but did not see the Lord.
If a sign from heaven was needed, he had just that: (Eyes were opened without sight). Saul discovered that his eyes became useless after the vision: through the natural reflex against the blinding sight of Jesus which he wanted to avoid by closing his eyes. Saul’s experience was in contrast to Moses experience, just as a sinner’s experience is always the opposite of a believer’s experience. Moses eyes became brighter, but Saul became blind, a mark of punishment (vs 9). The period of three days was for sober reflection just like a commentator writes “perhaps the three days were necessary so that Saul might recover from the shock and meditate on the meaning of the celestial encounter before receiving further messages. Saul made full use of the interruption to reorientate his life through fasting and prayer – Psalm 42:1-3.
POINTS TO LEARN
- The reflection of God’s power surpasses the most super human swift power as it shows in the case of Saul.
- A Christian, either mature or babe in faith needs rethinking and quiet times to meditate upon his activities from time to time whether they are acceptable to God or not
- A life adjustment was necessary for him because he started it all over again, with new faith, new friends, new experience and new status. A ring leader witnessing for Judaism became a missionary of the Gospel of Christ. The worst sinner today can become the best saint tomorrow. Don’t give up on that brother or sister.
PART 3: THE COMMISSIONING OF PAUL (ACT 9:10-16; ACTS 13:1-5)
The word ‘commission’ is receiving an official command or authority to perform a task. The commission of Saul was divine from God through Ananias. The Damascus road experience was not just Paul’s conversion, but also his commissioning to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. Ananias was told that Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the Lord’s name before the Gentiles. Paul himself recalled Jesus saying, “I will deliver you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you” Acts 26:17. The word “apostle” is literally “sent one.”
In our second text, we see the church fasting, praying and laying hands on Barnabas and Saul. There was no doubt in their minds that the Holy Spirit had charged them for a work to be done. So they, being sent and filled by the Holy Spirit as found in verse four, preached Christ in the synagogue of the Jews with power. We can see that apart from the first commissioning at conversion, Paul was also commissioned the second time for a specific assignment.
When it comes to doing work for the Lord, we all have a particular job to do. Even though many in the church would rather do someone else’s job, we must realise that the Lord had already picked us out for a particular mission that has nothing to do with what we want to do. That is why as Christians we must learn to know when the Lord is speaking to us or not. One of the ways you can tell when the Lord is speaking, is when He tells us to do something that is not on our agenda. And the other is that He would give us a job that will not bring glory to us, but to Him.
Apart from the general call of conversion and working as a witness or doing some other things in the church, the Lord may have a specific assignment for a believer. Such a person should identify with the church, discuss any special call with the ministers and the church will follow the procedures of confirming the call and the eventual commissioning. Paul did not just go out but waited for the approval of the Holy Spirit through the local church in spite of the earlier divine encounter.
- Differentiate between the general call from specific call to the ministry.
- How do you confirm that God is calling or has called you?
- What steps do you have to follow if you are sure of God’s call on your life?
- What role should fasting and prayers play in commissioning workers for the service of God?