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Life Rebuilt - Power Part 3 (8 of 16)
Open to Acts 9.
We're taking a few months to study the book of Acts, and we've been saying that Acts is the historical account of what happened when a group of people took the resurrection of Christ and the aliveness of Christ seriously. And for the first seven chapters, the church was really establishing its identity in Jerusalem, and things were going pretty well. But then something happened-remember? The first Christian martyr-somebody tell me his name? Stephen. Stephen was put to death for his faith, and that was like a tipping point that unleashed this violent persecution against Christians.
And that's where Paul comes in. He used to be called ''Saul'' (and I'll probably use those two names interchangeably today). And up to this point, Saul has been this sort of sinister figure, lurking in the shadows. Look at Acts 7:58-this is right when the people started to stone Stephen to death, and it says…Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And then a little bit later, in Acts 8:1, it says: And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. So you start to get the idea that Saul is going to be a key player here pretty soon.
So…lots of Christians fled for their lives-they left Jerusalem. Now let's pick up the story in Acts chapter 9, verse 1:  Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest  and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. Now-just a real quick side point: did you notice the name that people were starting to call Christianity? The Way. Isn't that interesting? Because this thing-this movement that was growing-was a whole new way of life. It was a whole new way of looking at life and living life they way that Jesus li ...
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