Lesson 5

Obedience: The Fruit of Revival

(Acts 9 & 26)
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Introduction: Two weeks ago, in our discussion of Hebrews 4:1-6, we saw two groups who heard the gospel, but only one accepted it. One group accepted the gospel because they combined it with faith. With that acceptance, the group entered into God's rest. Hebrews 4:6 continues to say that some will not enter into God's rest "because of their disobedience." If obedience is the fruit of revival, what does it mean to obey? Let's dive into our Bible and review some chapters in the life of Saul (who became Paul) to better understand the meaning of obedience!

  1. Road to Damascus


    1. Read Acts 9:1-2. Adam Clarke's Commentary reveals that the language in verse 1 is the same as that used by people preparing for war. Saul was at war with the followers of Jesus. He was like a dragon breathing fire! What was Saul's motivation? (He believed that he was obeying God.)


    2. Read Acts 9:3-5. What do you think is going through Saul's mind? He has been doing the will of God, he has been enthusiastic about stamping out the followers of Jesus, and now Jesus comes to him supernaturally and says that Jesus is God! (My world would be coming apart. What I thought was service to God was service against God.)


      1. Have you had that experience in your life? Know anyone else who has?


      2. Should Saul have known better?


    3. Read Acts 9:7-9. Saul is blind. Is this just punishment for his evil work? Will it keep him from persecuting Jesus' followers? Why is Saul not eating or drinking? (It would ruin my appetite to think I had been opposing God and He punished me with blindness!)


      1. Is their any symbolism here? Why didn't God just slow Saul down in some other way? (Jesus, the Light, gives literal darkness to a man who has been in spiritual darkness.)


      2. What is the bright spot here? What might give Saul a glimmer of hope? (God tells Saul ( Acts 9:6)that God has a task for him in the future.)


      3. What lesson about obedience is Jesus teaching Saul? (Trust.)


    4. Read Acts 9:10-12. What is Saul doing instead of eating? (He is praying. He has hope because God sent him a vision about restoring his sight.)


      1. What does this tell us about Saul? (He is serious about his relationship with God. He has doing the wrong thing, God struck him blind, but instead of rebelling against God, Saul turns to God for help. Saul shows trust.)


      2. What does this tell us about God? (God pursues even the enemies of His people. Saul might well have believed that his persecution warranted permanent blindness. But God, in His love and mercy, gave him hope that he would see again.)


  2. Ananias and Obedience


    1. Read Acts 9:13-14. What has Ananias heard that he believes God does not know about Saul? (Saul is dangerous to believers!)


      1. Does this show trust?


    2. Read Acts 9:15-16. Could God have said, "Just do it, I know what is going on. I'm God and you are not, so obey Me!" (Yes, of course. That is essentially what God said to Job. Job 38-41.)


      1. What is missing from God's answer? (Reassurance that Ananias will not be harmed!)


      2. What encouragement do you get from God's answer to Ananias? (God explains why it is important that Ananias goes to Saul. He also suggests that Saul, who has created so much suffering, will have to suffer.)


    3. Read Acts 9:17. Ananias obeys! Why do you think God sent Ananias to Saul? Was it a test of faith and trust? (It was that, but I believe that God wanted Saul to link up with His church.)


      1. What are the two goals for Ananias' visit? (To restore Saul's sight and to fill him with the Holy Spirit.)


      2. Are those God's goals for you?


    4. Read Acts 9:18-19. Why do you think the detail about "scales" falling from Saul's eyes is given to us? (To make the supernatural nature of this event clear. Perhaps it was lightening that hit, and Saul's sight recovered naturally. This detail confirms this was no lightening strike.)


    5. Read Acts 9:20-23. What does this teach us about the power of Saul's witness? (They could not overcome his logic, they could not show his conversion was fake, the only way to beat him was to kill him.)


    6. Saul has now become known as Paul, and he later recounts this story to King Agrippa. Read Acts 26:16-18 to see how Paul recalls Jesus' words to him. What does Jesus tell Saul/Paul to do? (Jesus sends him as a gospel witness to the Jews and Gentiles.)


      1. What does obedience mean to Paul? (To fulfill the calling given to him by God.)


    7. Read Acts 26:19-20. Does Paul obey? (Yes.)


    8. Recall two weeks ago when studied about God's people coming to the border of Canaan? The obedience question was whether they would trust God to enter the promised land. In Paul's case, the obedience question is whether he will trust God's calling in this new mission to be a witness. What does this suggest about the nature of obedience? (The main issue in obedience is trusting God. Sometimes we are so focused on the small things of life we miss how we are doing on the big issue of trust.)


  3. King Agrippa and Obedience


    1. Back to King Agrippa. Years later, Paul has been arrested for witnessing to others about Jesus. Let's read Acts 25:23-27. What kind of attitude do these rulers have towards Paul?


      1. Do they think he is a dangerous criminal? (Hardly. They think he is entertainment. They believe he is interesting. Governor Festus thinks that Paul is innocent of the charges.)


    2. Read Acts 26:1-3. What does this tell us about Agrippa's knowledge of the Bible? (It sounds like he knows something about the Jewish religion.)


    3. In his defense, Paul tells about his religious background, the calling Jesus gave to him, and his work to advance Judaism. Why? What does this have to do with the charges against Paul? (Remember that Paul was obedient to his calling. Paul is witnessing, telling his conversion story, and mostly leaving the defense to God.)


      1. Why would Paul use his conversion story to witness? (How can you debate a person's story about his life?)


    4. Read Acts 26:22-24. Is this how you debate a person's life story - tell them that they are insane?


      1. What does Festus' comment reveal about his views of Paul? (He thinks Paul is a highly educated man. This is no common criminal. This is a sophisticated person.)


      2. Do you think Festus is serious about the insanity charge? (I think Festus just disagrees, and by charging that Paul is crazy, Festus does not have to think about it too much.)


    5. Read Acts 26:25-27. If anyone challenged your sanity, what would you say? How does Paul handle this charge? (He turns his attention to King Agrippa, and suggests that if Festus knew more he would not challenge his sanity.)


    6. Read Acts 26:28. Is King Agrippa open to Paul's witness? On which points does the King disagree?


      1. What is the King's response to this call to obedience? (He wants more time! He does not dispute any point, he simply says I need more time for such a big decision.)


    7. Read Acts 26:29. Who is Paul's audience? (He stands before only one or two who have the power to adjudicate his guilt, but he stands before many more who are hearing the gospel.)


      1. Are you alert to all those who may hear your witness?


      2. When you have an audience who wants to hear you, are you alert to the opportunity to witness?


    8. Friend, when it comes to obedience, are you focused on the big issues of life: faith and trust in God, and God's calling on your life? If not, why not commit today to make these a priority?


  4. Next week: Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival.

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