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Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free (9 of 14)
How people face adversity can have a huge impact on us. Heroic deeds inspire us. For instance, when 19 firefighters near Prescott, Arizona lost their lives in the line of duty, we celebrated their heroism. Their everyday bravery in the face of great danger inspired us. The way that a man named Stephen died must have weighed heavily on the mind of Saul. Saul was present and gave his approval for the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). But as Stephen was being stoned for his faith he prayed for his murderers, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (7:60).
A Campaign of Rage and Terror (9:1-2)
To numb the reminder of seeing Stephen's calmness in the face of death, Saul plunged headlong into a campaign of rage and terror to blot out followers of Jesus from the earth. In 9:1 Luke tells us that Saul went on a rampage to route out "the Lord's disciples." Luke uses his Jewish name of Saul in this account, but we know him better by his Roman name of Paul.
Not content with persecuting believers in Jerusalem, Saul went to see the High Priest about what he sees as the ever-increasing "Christian Problem." "The Way" as he refers to them (19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22) is a threat to Judaism. And so He seeks extradition papers from the high priest to go to the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any "who belonged to the Way," he could have them arrested. Damascus, about 140 miles from Jerusalem, was a place of refuge for believers who had fled the persecution of Jerusalem and there was a sizeable Christian community there.
Saul is zealous and he's convinced that he is serving God but he is in fact opposing God. He's moving full speed ahead into the darkness, religious but lost! You can be convinced that a way of life, a belief is correct, but if it does not align with truth, it will only lead to further darkness and confusion. Some of the most unhappy people on the planet are reli ...
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