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The Church Embraces Her Enemies 

Converting our enemies to Christ and what we should do once they have converted

Acts 9.1–31

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 9, In the year of our Lord 2010

Scripture Reader and Reading: Michael Crisp – Galatians 1.22–24

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Songs on love


  1. What shall the church do with her enemies? 
    1. We have them simply because we believe Jesus is the only way to heaven,
      1. many people oppose us.
      2. Could some of those people become one of us?
    2. If so, I want to show you from a chapter in Acts
      1. what they need to do and
      2. what we need to do.
  2. In particular, after our seminar on Islam, what shall we do? 
    1. Pray relentlessly
      1. for the conversion of Muslims here,
      2. for open doors in Muslim-dominated nations, and
      3. for yourself to be as Christ would be toward Muslims.
    2. Seek to understand them that you might become all things to all men.
      1. First Corinthians 9 shows Paul’s determination
      2. to do what is needed to save souls,

        19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1Co 9.19–22).

        1. If we should
          1. be as a Jew to the Jews,
          2. be as under the law to those under the law,
          3. be as without law to those without law,
          4. be as weak to the weak,
        2. should we not be as a Muslim to the Muslim,
          1. so far as we are able
          2. that we might win the Muslim,
            1. not denying biblical truth,
            2. nor affirming Islamic doctrine that we do not believe, but
              1. doing whatever we can do biblically
              2. to accommodate ourselves to them to save some of them?
    3. Acts 6 shows that we should know the Bible, for
      1. it is the Sword of the Spirit, and
      2. no one can contend with you when you use it,
        1. as with Stephen,

          10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (Acts 6.10).
        2. If you meditate daily, if you seek to know all of God’s word,
          1. you will know what to say,
          2. what to do, and
          3. how to be.
    4. Let your Christianity shine.
    5. Consider the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, because
      1. he zealously persecuted the church, but
      2. he saw the light and turned to promoting the church.
        1. There are Muslims, and non-Muslims, who persecute the church, but
        2. some of them will turn as Saul of Tarsus did.
      3. We need to prepare ourselves for this eventuality.


  1. Acts 9.1–2 – Threats Against the Way

    1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9.1–2)

    1. People threaten the church.
      1. Always have, always will.
      2. Saul and the high priest should have favored Christianity, but did not.
    2. America should favor Christianity, but
      1. with many that is changing,
      2. simultaneously growing friendly toward Islam!
        1. Everything the world hates
          1. about Christianity and the church,
          2. they should hate even more in Islam.
        2. The non-Muslim supporters of Islam know not what they do.
    3. However, we believe Jesus is the Way and
      1. that makes us the target of Satan,
      2. who will use people like Saul in the past, or
        1. the secular world in the present to silence us.
  2. Acts 9.3–9 An Enemy Sees the Light

    3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9.3–9).

    1. There will be those in the world and in Islam who will “see the light.”
    2. It might even be the truth of the resurrected Christ,
      1. as with Saul, that turns them.
      2. Like Saul, the revelation of new truth,
        1. hence, of what they had done in opposition to that truth,
        2. will drive them into fasting
          1. as they seek the true God
          2. with all their might.
    3. This they must do, and they will do it passionately.
  3. Acts 9.10–19 Our Part in Converting Others

    10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.  19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus (Acts 9.10–19).

    1. Some in the church will fear new converts who were previously enemies.
      1. Like Ananias, we hear things and
      2. we tend to believe everything we hear about an enemy,
        1. though we should not.
        2. Like Ananias, let us listen to the Lord.
    2. Do not fear conversions of our enemies, for
      1. you are witnessing a repeat of Saul’s conversion.
      2. It could be one of the most exciting times of your life!
    3. Saul was baptized, and
      1. any converts must do the same.
      2. Acts 22 reveals why Saul, later known as Paul, was baptized.
        1. In Acts 22 he explained the why and the how of his conversion.
        2. Part of his explanation included repeating what Ananias said to Saul,

          16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22.16).

          1. You cannot have your sins washed away
          2. until you call on the name of the Lord, but
            1. Ananias explained that you call on the name of the Lord
            2. by being baptized, because
              1. the Lord promised to forgive all your sins,
              2. if you will be baptized, so,
                1. doing what He commanded
                2. is like calling on Him to do what He promised.
  4. Acts 9.20–22 Converts Must Show Repentance

    20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9.20–22).

    1. Have you become a Christian recently?
      1. You must show people that you have repented,
      2. especially if you formerly persecuted the church.
    2. When someone has repented, accept it.
  5. Acts 9.23–25 New Converts Persecuted

    23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket (Acts 9.23–25).

    1. Sometimes the persecutor becomes the persecuted.
    2. There is a time to run and a time to stay.
  6. Acts 9.26–30 Be a Barnabas

    26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus (Acts 9.26–30).

    1. Do not fear to speak up for those who have changed.
    2. Show acceptance yourself, and then encourage others to do it.
    3. Converts need to join a local congregation of disciples.
    4. If a Muslim is converted,
      1. he will face great hostility from his former people, and
      2. we need to be there ready to rescue him.
  7. Acts 9.31 What the Church Will Gain

    31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied (Acts 9.31).

    1. We fear the world and Islam, but
    2. if we do what is right, doing what the church did with Saul in Acts 9,
      1. we will have
        1. peace,
        2. edification, and
        3. we will walk in the fear of the Lord, and
        4. we will have comfort of the Holy Spirit, and so
      2. the result will be multiplication.


  1. When it comes to Muslims, secularists, or anyone else who is not a Christian, 
    1. do not think of yourself, but
    2. think as Christ did, and
      1. He thought of God first,
      2. then the people to whom the Father sent Him to serve.
  2. We do not exist for ourselves, but 
    1. for the glory of God,
    2. for the salvation of lost souls, and
    3. for the building up of our brethren.
  3. You now know what to do to become a Christian,

    16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22.16).