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The Case of Saul (Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-16; 26:16-18)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 27 January 2013 00:00

I have attached a copy of the sermon notes from this past Sunday.
Side One is a Review of the experience of Cornelius (Acts 10-11:18), which is our experience today. When we believe in Jesus for eternal life, we get the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who baptizes us into the Body of Christ, the Church.

Side Two are the notes for Sunday’s message, and set forth the experience of Saul, that is, the apostle Paul. For Paul, the experience of receiving eternal life (which we argued occurred on the Damascus Road) was separated from the experience of the forgiveness of his sins by three days. So for Paul, the experience of being born again occurs on the road to Damascus, but the experience of forgiveness occurs three days later in Damascus. There was a temporal separation between these events which is not true of us today nor was true of Cornelius. With Cornelius (and for us), his water baptism pointed back to the reality which had already taken place. But for Saul/Paul, his baptism necessarily preceded his experience of the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 22:16). Those are the facts. That temporal sequence is what happened. We will see the “Why?” in the weeks ahead.

Pastor Dave


01-27-2013         Three Great Blessings of our Peace with God       Acts 10:36

Review:  The Case of Cornelius ~ Acts 10:1 – 11:18


There has often been confusion in understanding issues of salvation and water baptism in the book of Acts.  In this short series, our goal is to understand the passages in Acts which are often confused regarding salvation and baptism.  The vast majority of those who are confused about what the book of Acts has to say about the doctrine of salvation as it relates to baptism do not distinguish three things adequately.  We want to distinguish these three things here: 


(1) Eternal life is ours through regeneration, a new birth that brings us the gift of eternal life. 

The flip-side of the coin of regeneration is justification, which is a judicial clearing of the believer from the penalty of his sin.  There is nothing for the believer to go into court for.  Such a one will not ever come into judgment (John 5:24) to determine whether or not he’s saved.  He has already been cleared by the heavenly court, declared righteous by God in His sight.  At the moment of faith in Christ, that believer is justified, is regenerated, and has eternal life. 


(2) Forgiveness.  The experience of forgiveness ends our estrangement from God – the barrier that sin creates between man and God in terms of man having an experience of a harmonious personal relationship (fellowship) with God.  **

The solution to the problems in Acts as they relate to the doctrine of salvation, revolve around a single word, and that word is forgiveness. 

These two key statements about forgiveness are essential:

(1) Forgiveness is not a judicial issue between man and God, but it is a personal issue between   God and man. 

(2) Forgiveness is not the removal of a penalty, but it is the removal of estrangement  between God and man.   

If you understand the bearing of those two statements on our understanding of forgiveness, you are on the way to a much clearer understanding of salvation and baptism in the book of Acts!


(3) The baptism of the Spirit inducts us into the Body of Christ.  Recall that the idea of baptism is identification.  When the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the Body of Christ, that believer has a new identity as a new member of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Water baptism is for believers and is a picture of the unseen reality (the Holy Spirit baptized the believer into the Body of Christ) that took place spiritually at the moment we believed in Jesus for eternal life.  This was the experience of Cornelius and it is our experience today in the Church age, but as we learn in the book of Acts, such was not the experience of every believer in the Church age.   


It is possible for a person to be regenerated and not have the Holy Spirit residing within.  While that is not possible now, in the church age (1 Corinthians 12:13), such was the case in the Old Testament as well as during Christ’s first advent, right up until the day of Pentecost (John 7:39).  So regeneration and the baptism of the Spirit into the Body of Christ are two different things.  We have to keep that in mind.  And forgiveness is a third different thing.  Remember the two key statements above!  When we mix all these things in our mind inappropriately, then we will find some of the material in the book of Acts confusing, but it need not be so.   


**  There is, of course, a sense of forgiveness which is a positional, or “in Christ” forgiveness.  This is ours at the moment we believe.  It is ours through Spirit baptism into the Body of Christ.


01-27-2013                               The Case of Saul             Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-16; 26:16-18

Today we continue a short series on issues related to salvation and baptism.  We consider the instructive case of the conversion and baptism of Saul of Tarsus, later to become the apostle Paul


Question:  When was Saul born again? 

Answer:  On the road to Damascus (Acts 9:2-9, 17, 20-22).


Question:  When did Saul receive the forgiveness of his sins?

Answer:  Not until three days after he was born again (Acts 9:8-9; 22:13-16). 

Note how Ananias addresses Saul, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’  (22:13)

Saul’s sins were washed away when he was baptized (22:16) three days after he was born again. 

Evidently Saul was born again on the Damascus Road (9:5-6).  He passed out of death into life.  He became a “brother” of Ananias and others who were of the Way (9:2), who called on the name of the Lord Jesus (9:14, 21).  But he did not receive the forgiveness of sins until after Ananias came to him three days later and until after Saul was baptized, according to Acts 22:16.


This is a sharp contrast to the experience of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert.

Peter had said to Cornelius nothing about baptism in connection with the forgiveness of sin.

“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission (forgiveness) of sins” ~ Acts 10:43.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word ~ Acts 10:44.

For Cornelius:  believe … remission of sins … and while listening, the Holy Spirit fell on them. 

Conclusion:  In the book of Acts there are different kinds of experiences in the forgiveness of sin and the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Cornelius received all three blessings (eternal life, forgiveness of sins, baptism of the Holy Spirit) before water baptism (Acts 10:47-48). 

Saul, at least, received the forgiveness of sins after Ananias came (Acts 9:5-6) and after he was baptized in water (22:13-16).  So how do we understand this difference?

     Cornelius was a Gentile.                                         Saul was a Jew residing in Israel.

     Cornelius provides us with a pattern                      Saul is a pattern of the salvation experience

     for the salvation experience of Gentiles.                of the Jews of Israel.  


Does this seem strange to you?  It should!  It should seem strange to us because it is contrary to our own experience in salvation.  Yet it is not really as strange as it may seem to us at first. 

Receiving eternal life brings us into the family of God (John 1:12).

Receiving forgiveness of sins brings us into fellowship with God (1 John 1:1-7).

Receiving the Holy Spirit brings us into the church of God (1 Corinthians 12:13). 


Even though Saul had eternal life from the very moment he recognized Jesus as the Christ, God waited three days before He showed Saul the way into fellowship with Himself.  In other words, those three days were not days Saul spent in fellowship with God.  The experience of Saul in Damascus for three days is no different than our experience when we are out of fellowship with God – only in Saul’s case, the fellowship had yet to begin. 

What was that experience like?  Saul was physically blind.  He neither ate nor drank anything.  He did not serve God.  This is a parable of sorts for us.  When I’m out of fellowship with my Father due to unforgiven sin in my life, I’m walking in darkness, cannot be nurtured properly from Gods’ Word, nor can I have a vital Christian experience and witness for God (2 Peter 1:9).






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