Three Stories In One Statement – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

Three Stories in One Statement

Acts 9:5

Intro: This one statement Jesus made caused Saul to tremble and to be astonished.

This one statement brought Saul to repentance and salvation.

This one statement was like God read Saul’s diary to the entire world.

It’s high time that the Word of God made the child of God to tremble and to be astonished!!

This statement tells three stories.

This statement contains three very private and very personal revelations.

When we start to peel back the layers in this one statement, it reveals some deep and astounding truths.

I. It is a Story of a Secret Difficulty“…it is hard…”

HARD: hard, harsh, rough, stiff; violent, rough, offensive, intolerable

Saul’s life appeared to be prosperous.

He was a Pharisee. – they were highly respected and regarded as the leaders of their day

He was a member of the Sanhedrin. – this placed him in the highest echelons of society and prosperity

He was of the tribe of Benjamin. – a well documented history and heritage; rare in those days.

He was schooled in Tarsus at the feet of Gamaliel – the most influential man in the Sanhedrin’s learning circles.

He was sanctioned by the authorities to arrest Christians.

He was a leader, very well educated and very respected.

He had a following of loyal helpers but he was miserable!

BUT….

His life had become HARD – difficult; intolerable (and nobody knew it but him and God!!)

When he was working, he looked successful – but he was struggling.

When he was at the synagogue, he looked powerful, but he was struggling.

When he was carrying out his sanctioned duties, he looked prosperous, but he was struggling.

He struggled all day – it became intolerable.

Nobody knew it, but God knew it.

This public revelation of a private and secret life was what caused Saul to tremble and to be astonished.

A lot of people have succeeded in putting on the face and pretending to be happy.

People have learned how to go through the motions and mask their frustration and their hurt.

Constantly dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Instagram and TikTok and other social media platforms glamorize the lives of the most miserable people alive.

The day that Jesus Christ revealed to Saul and to the world that his life was hard was an astonishing revelation.

  • Proverbs 13:15 Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
  • Isaiah 48:22 There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
  • Isaiah 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

This statement that was heard all around by those traveling with Saul was devastating to Saul.

This statement was as powerful as the statement was that Jesus made to the woman at the well when he asked her to bring her husband.

God specializes in pulling the masks off.

The woman at the well’s testimony was “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”

  • 2 Peter 1:19 says God’s word is “…as a light that shineth in a dark place…”

II. It is a Story of a Stubborn Defiance“…for thee to kick against…”

Saul’s response toward God was a backward kick with the heel

The statement “kick against” is the picture of an animal that is protesting with a violent reaction.

For example: A cow that is being branded will kick backwards.

A horse that is being saddled that doesn’t want to be ridden.

It is an action that is taken when there is a conflict of wills; an attempt to impose one’s will on another.

Though Saul’s actions appeared to be in conjunction with God and His work, it was contrary to it.

Saul’s every step, every action, every word, every thought, every accomplishment was IN DEFIANCE to Christ.

Saul’s life was one of fighting AGAINST God – not fighting FOR or WITH God.

Every bit of truth he’d heard or known was buried deep in his heart and mind.

He’d succeeded in deceiving himself that he was doing right when he was in fact doing wrong.

Yet his very life was described as “persecuting Jesus”.

PERSECUTEST: in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute; to be mistreated,

He was persecuting Jesus, and Jesus was persecuting him.

There was ENMITY between them.

  • Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
  • Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
  • James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

III. It is a Story of a Sovereign Desire“…against the pricks…”

God was pricking him – God was after him.

God had his number.

Stephen’s death was no accident.

This trip to Damascus was no accident.

God was on his trail.

This “way” he had heard about was God’s way. (vs. 2 “…that if he found any of this way…”)

His way was in direct conflict with God’s way – and God wanted him to get out of the way and get in the way!!!

And God knows the right way to get you in the way!!!

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:11 “…the words of the wise are as goads…”

God had a plan for Saul, and it involved Saul surrendering to God’s way.

Conclusion: Notice Saul’s response in verse 6.

               A. It brought about a Soberness – “…he trembled and was astonished…”

               B. It brought about a Surrender – “…Lord…”

               C. It brought about a Service – “…what wilt thou have me to do?”