Acts 26:12-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
Paul Recounts His Conversion
12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now[a] send you,
18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Paul’s Post-Conversion Life
19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Remember this popular song, sometime ago?
Is it your song? Prayer? Then, let's go together.
John the Beloved Apostle wrote this epistle, he said, for at least five reasons .. for our benefit.
--"That you also may have fellowship" (I John 1:3).
--Second, "That youro may be full" (v 4).
--Third, "I write .. that you sin not" (2:1).
--Four, to help us overcome "those who try to deceive you" (2:26).
--Five, "These things have I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life ..." (5:13). Do you?
--It was written for our oneness. For a closer walk.
A closer walk is needed among us. With God. Others.
--In our families, among husband, wife, and children.
--Among neighbors, and nations. With folks all over.
Not to walk ahead .. or behind .. but close together.
--With the Lord, and with one another, in fellowship.
--It is so easy to be hasty or harsh or misunderstood.
--When peace is broken, it is not easy to restore.
--It takes a lot of "I'm sorry. Please forgive."
John wrote this epistle, along with two others; also, the Gospel of John, and Revelation - five books.
--He and James were called "sons of thunder" by Jesus in jest, but were "sons of Zebedee," fishermen.
--Walking with Jesus, John became the Apostle of love.
--How was the change made? By a closer walk in Him!
John wants us to have that gift! "That you also, may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (v 3).
--"We have fellowship with one another .." (v 7).
--For a closer walk with God, we need to know Jesus.
God, in His Word, has a lot to say about our walk.
--He says, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3). We need a togetherness.
--Micah 6:8, "What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." And others. Life is about our walk.
John heard the great sermons of Jesus. His prayers.
--Saw His miracles for blind, deaf, and lame healed.
--Saw Jesus raise the dead, like Lazarus. Others.
--Last at the cross and one of first at empty tomb.
--Was close to Christ at the Last Supper, next to Him.
--John recorded Jesus' prayer in the Garden (John 17).
John is the one who gave us all the "I am's" of Jesus.
--To John, Jesus entrusted His Mother, at the cross.
--That Easter at the tomb, John saw it empty.
--Jesus' grave-clothes, like a shell, or a coccoon.
--But there was no Jesus! He had risen "as He said."
--John went in. "He saw, and believed" (John 20:8).
--He was present Easter Eve, when Jesus appeared!
--Saw the Risen Savior, many times, as he writes.
--Not missing opportunities to be with Jesus.
Thus John is qualified to write, "We have heard, we have seen with our eyes, looked upon, and our hands have handled concerning the Word of life" (I Jn. 1).
--John wants this closer walk, for us. Why?
--"That your joy may be full" (I John 1:4).
--Friend, when out of fellowship, we lose joy.
Allow me to share my outline of this little Epistle.
--Chapter 1, KNOWING THE LORD. Verse 3 is the key.
--Chapter 2, KNOWING HIS LEADING. "Walking" together.
--Chapter 3, KNOWING HIS LIKENESS. Key verse is 2.
--Chapter 4, KNOWING HIS LOVE. " Herein is love."
--Chapter 5, KNOWING HIS LIFE. Verse 13 is the key.
--".. that you may know you have eternal life."
--A key word in I John is the important word, "know."
"Knowing" - by faith in God's promises and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross - not a hope so or maybe so.
--But a "blessed assurance, Jesus is mine."
--That is where fellowship is! A closer walk is!
John says, "I've had close fellowship with Christ but I long for a closer walk." I do too. And maybe you.
--He mentions, "Fellowship with the Father.. His Son."
--And "fellowship with one another." A closeness.
-—He tells of a difference in "saying" and having.
--I John 1:6, "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie." We are not close.
How are we at making peace? Keeping peace? Patience?
--Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).
These disciples were like us - weak, wishy-washy, and somewhat worldly, and selfish - till Spirit-filled.
--Some wanting "chief places." All need forgiveness.
--To repent. To seek a closer walk and "fellowship."
It is simple to become a Christian - take Jesus,"born again" by trusting and following Him.
--But, like growing an oak, it takes time to have this likeness to the Lord, by a closer walk with Him.
--When we have it with the Lord, we have with others.
--In our families and homes, and other relationships.
Hedley Vicars was an Army officer who lived for self.
--Far away from his family. Faith, and up-bringing.
--He had gone with the crowd. Ana away from God.
--He visited the room of a Christian officer, friend.
--His friend had stepped out for a few minutes. On the table was a Bible, open to I John chapter 1.
--Awaiting his friend, Hedley slowly read the words.
--His eyes rested on verse 7, "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship..."
--Hedley knew he did not "walk in the light."
--He got to thinking. God's Spirit was speaking.
--The fellowship he had, was the wrong kind.
--He was going the wrong way! It was not with God.
--He was nowhere close to the Lord. He knew it.
--He continued, ".. Jesus cleanses us from all sin."
--He thought, Jesus saved my friend, He can save me!
Hedley Vicars was "born again" with rejoicing, as he commenced his close walk, "fellowship,' with Jesus.
--His life was changed for the better.
--Heaven became his home. A closer walk, his joy.
We tend to become like those we are with the most.
--Pick up ways. Speech. Personalities, of others.
--It is true spiritually; for the more time with Jesus .. the closer the walk .. the more His likeness.
--The happier, and more blessed, is our life.
There's a thief out there who takes closeness from us.
--It is the devil. Satan! How does he rob us?
--By temptations. Alluring us to disobey; walk away.
--And to go astray. Going our own way.
From Genesis to Revelation, we have many examples.
--Adam and Eve in a perfect paradise, lost closeness, and fellowship with God in the Garden - by sin.
--For a time, Abraham lost it. As Isaac and Jacob.
--As did David when he was allured to evil.
--As did Peter, when he denied he knew the Lord!
--As Thomas when he missed it, doubting Jesus arose!
--A close walk takes discipline. Takes determinination. Takes a lot of "I'm sorry, please forgive."
We are so busy - often, too busy - away from the Lord.
--Two sisters growing up had trouble getting along.
--Neither knew the Lord, for neither did the parents.
--So there was no Biblical or church influence.
--There was jealousy, and bitterness even as adults.
--Until one of the sisters, after marriage, was saved.
--She found the Lord Jesus! A good church fellowship.
--She found time for their Bible study; took husband.
--They quickly grew in the grace of the Lord and joy.
--They invited the other sister's family to visit.
--Leaving, that sister said, "I don't understand all about your religion yet - but it has made a difference in your life - you are a joy to be with!"
--Closeness with Christ, you see, will do it for us!
God does His part, be assured. Let's do ours.
--He "cleanses us from all unrighteousness." Come.
--That's what makes for a closer walk with God.
--I want that. Want it for all of you. In Him.
--Let's go together!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 839