Tom: This is our Understanding the Scriptures segment. Dave and I have the privilege of going through the Word of God, and we certainly want to encourage everyone - we’re blessed to be able to do this, but we want you to be Bereans, to search the Scriptures daily. I can’t think of a more important discipline in a Christian’s life than reading the Word. Discipline - you know, we have to discipline ourselves on the one hand. On the other hand it should be a labor of love, an act of reading love letters, really, from our Lord and Savior Christ. It’s really what it’s about.
Dave: Well, Tom, let me read Deuteronomy 6 again - we’ve done this many times, but it bears repeating. God says in v. 5, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Difference between what God requires and what Muhammad and Allah required. You don’t even have to believe it to be a Muslim, you just make the confession. But remember, Romans:10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead…”
Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch who said, “Here is water. What would hinder me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart you may.”
So it says, “These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up,” and so forth.
Psalm 1 speaks of God’s blessing upon the man who meditates in the law of the Lord day and night: “He’ll be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.”
And Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8 - I can just go over and read that; I can quote it, but let’s read it - v. 1: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” God is testing us and proving us, and we are to keep His commandments; we’re to obey the Word of God. Now, if we don’t even know what it says, how can we possibly obey it? We’re to meditate in it day and night.
Tom: And, Dave, there’s an important aspect about this, especially in the last days. I believe we’re in the last days; we’ve talked about that over many of our programs, and we can document it from the Scriptures - just look around and see what’s going on. And this process that seems to be taking place of Christians, those who profess to be evangelical Christians, Bible-believing Christians, are actually being weaned off the Word of God almost systematically, it seems. And so consequently, even though you’re a true believer, if your Christianity, if your understanding of the Word is so shallow, then you can’t discern anymore, Dave, right? Somebody can come along, be persuasive, have some great ideas, some things that seem to be where God is blessing, but many Christians, in a state of superficiality, of shallowness with regard to the Word - call it Biblical illiteracy - they can’t challenge those individuals, and they’re just going to follow wherever the person or individual or church wants to lead them.
Dave: Because they don’t know the Word of God. If you know the Word of God, it will protect you from any false doctrine that might come along, but that’s the tragedy today. Well, Tom, we’re in Acts 9.
Tom: Acts 9, and we got to verse 18: this has to do with Ananias. Paul on the road to Damascus; our Lord Jesus Christ appears to him, he’s blinded, and the Lord speaks to Ananias to go to Saul and to really be the instrument of God to heal Saul. So Saul is blinded, and v. 18 says, “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” He didn’t waste any time, did he?
Dave: Saul has had a powerful confrontation from Christ, who has said, “Why are you persecuting me?” And, of course, Saul has had a troubled conscience for a long time.
Tom: Because he knew the Word, he understood the Word, but he was rejecting the very Messiah that the Word of God, the Old Testament, had taught about.
Dave: As Jesus said to the rabbis, “You search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: but these are they that testify of Me. But you won’t come to Me that you might have life.” Christ came to Saul. I guess somebody could say, “Well, why doesn’t He do that for everybody?” Saul was a special chosen vessel that Christ was going to use in an amazing way, and He said He would show him what great things he would have to suffer. So you want Jesus to appear to you so you can suffer and be martyred?
But we all have the Word of God, and Saul did not have the Scriptures that we have today. He had the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus Christ was going to personally instruct Saul; he would spend some time in Arabia, and let me just read it from Galatians so we understand what is going to happen. He says: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s a very important passage, because we know that the Bible…“All scripture is given by inspiration. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
But Paul isn’t claiming, “I got this by revelation from the Holy Spirit.” He says, “No, I got this by revelation directly from Christ Himself.” So Paul is going to go off into Arabia, and let me read what he says: “You’ve heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how I persecuted the church, and I was more zealous of the traditions of my fathers than anybody else in Israel.” And then he says: “But when it pleased God to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” this is going to happen right after this experience on the road to Damascus, “neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord’s brother,” and so forth.
So Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle is one of the great proofs of the resurrection of Christ, because he didn’t just have some emotional experience, you know, where because of his guilt complex he thought that he saw Jesus, and now he’s going to change to come over on their side (which will mean his martyrdom), but he literally was taught by Christ. How do we know that? Because he didn’t go up to the apostles before him and say, “Hey, guys, I think I’ve become a Christian. I’d kind of like to be an apostle, but I didn’t study under Jesus with you fellows. Could you give me a quick course in Christianity so that when I start to preach the gospel I don’t make any mistakes?”
No, he says, “I didn’t go to any of them. I was personally taught by Christ back in Arabia.” And he became the chief apostle. He rebukes Peter to his face: “Peter, you are wrong. This is not the way it should be.” God uses him to write 1 Corinthians 11 to tell us what happened at the Last Supper. Paul wasn’t even there. So we have absolute proof that Paul met Christ, was taught by Him, and the other apostles had to say, “Paul, you know everything we know, and more!” He became, really, the chief apostle.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Verse 21,: “But all that heard him were amazed, and said: Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”
Dave: So we have quite a transformation here. Saul of Tarsus, who came determined to arrest Christians, who had been involved in the stoning of apparently more than Stephen - we get that impression - he has been transformed completely. Christ has met him. He knows he’s going to be one of those who will be persecuted and killed, and yet this experience of Christ arresting him, you might say, on the road to Damascus is so powerful [that] Paul has forgotten everything - all of his ambitions, he gives up everything, and he is going to follow Christ. He begins preaching who Jesus really is. He goes into the synagogue - I mean, that’s rather bold of Paul, but he is will teach us the gospel is to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile, and in every city he went to, Paul went first into the synagogue. And then when the Jews threw him out, then he went to the Gentiles, and eventually, Jew and Gentile would join together to kill him.