HE PREACHED CHRIST
(or rather, “Jesus”)
Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 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? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
At the outset of this article let me say that we have an incorrect title to this lesson due to the King James translators. We would use no other bible to read, study and preach from, but in this particular verse they missed it. For the Greek word, here translated, Christ, appears 917 times in the New Testament. And 916 times it is correctly translated, Jesus, this being the only time it is wrongly translated, Christ. So verse twenty of our text should read, And straightway he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. With that correction, verse twenty two now fortifies this in its last phrase, which reads, proving that this (that is, “this Jesus”) is very Christ. And therefore our title should read, He Preached Jesus!
That word straightway, which is the same Greek word translated, immediately in verse eighteen, reveals an urgency upon Saul to begin his new task. But what caused this urgency? It came from the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him that transformed him into a new creation in Christ Jesus. And it was affected by the method that the Spirit used to accomplish that anointing. We read in Acts 9:11,12 that the Holy Spirit had informed Saul of the receiving of his sight by the putting of the hands of Ananias upon him. And in this we can again hear the echo of the eunuch’s answer to Philip’s questioning if he understood what he was reading. For in Acts 8:31 we hear him respond, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
Saul now clearly understood that if men were going to hear the gospel and be turned from darkness into light it would be by the foolishness of preaching! (1 Corinthians 1:21). And now the Spirit had clearly both informed and enabled him to do so! Insomuch that he would later write, How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14). And he now fully understood that he was one of those preachers!
The Lord’s truly called preachers have this urgency to declare all that they have seen and heard! Ezekiel 40:4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
This was made clear to Ananias in the commission from the Lord concerning Saul’s calling. Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Also listen to these inspired words from his later writings to the believers at Corinth, (with this latter verse revealing that even his personal godliness was directly related to this call to preach!): 1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
And even though we have but limited space for these articles, it is necessary to list out for you his farther writings to the Colossian church concerning how his sufferings have related to his preaching. For neither the Incarnate, nor the preached Word can be removed from the cross as they are the effectual revelation of God! In Luke 24:25-27 and verses 44-46, the resurrected Lord sums up the entirety of the scriptures under the two headings of his suffering (cross), and his glory (crown)!
Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
And just what was it that caused such fury in this Terrorist of Judaism in the first place? What was it that caused him to be so cruel, and so bitterly opposed to those who called on the name of Jesus! It was a matter of holiness!
Both Judaism and Christianity fully believed in, and expected holy living! But the issue was just how was that holiness to be accomplished? Our Lord addressed this very subject to a legal and critical Pharisee, who disapproved of the Lord not washing his hands before dinner. (And he was referring to Moses’ law of ceremonial washings, and not the laws of health.)
Luke 11:37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. 40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
And the spiritual meaning of our Lord concerning that which is “within,” and that which is “without” is more clearly seen in the Amplified version of the Bible. For in that 41st verse it states, But [dedicate your inner self and] give for donations to the poor of those things which are within [of inward righteousness] and behold, everything is purified and clean for you. This is why the widow’s mite (Lk. 21:4), was of more value to God than the large donations that rich men gave! – Because she gave it from a righteous frame of heart! 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And we are not without this apostle’s writings concerning the Christian viewpoint of holiness! He is very clear, with much writing concerning his counting his former (Judaistic) quest for holiness now as “but dung” (Phil. 3:8), that he might now obtain Christ by faith! And he strongly warns his present day believers never to be persuaded back to an attempt to obtain righteousness by religious works! Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
It is all summed up in his letter to Titus! Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
We must never seek by our religious, legalistic performance to strive to clean that which the atoning blood of God’s Lamb alone can cleanse. And we must never refuse to accept that which the fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, has done in making souls acceptable to the Holy God! Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
And although Peter at first doubted in himself as to what this vision meant, he was later perfectly convinced as he preached in the Gentile Cornelius’ living room! For there, speaking in the Holy Ghost he stated, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (Acts 10:28). He knew that the vision was not referring to a Jew, or any other religionist, being permitted to eat bear, or alligator, but God was referring to the receiving of any “man,” cleansed by the righteous blood of Christ!
And why was this former hater of Jesus of Nazareth now so totally devoted to Him? Here are his own words of testimony concerning that issue: 1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
He had been forgiven of actually persecuting the Person of the Lord Jesus, by persecuting His church! (Acts 9:4,5). He, being forgiven much, loved much! Luke 7:41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
Love always succeeds forgiveness! It is never the other way round! 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Love is a “fruit” of the Spirit, not the root! Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, And our faith towards God is sustained by God’s love toward us! Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
God’s love, supplying mercy, is that which grants us the perception of grace. Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
The “Simon” in that Luke 7 passage listed above had no evidence that his sin was great, nor that he had ever been forgiven of sin! The Lord proved that to him in telling him that he had no fruits of love by not washing his feet, nor giving him a welcoming kiss like the woman whom Simon was criticizing had done! But Saul of Tarsus had that evidence in that straightway he preached Jesus! Pastor Gene Breed.