The Man the Church couldn’t Reach!

I am Saul!
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 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. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 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.” 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.” Acts 9:1-6 NKJV

The early church while seeing the power of God work through them, were also faced with the reality of persecution. In Acts chapter 7 they see their beloved Stephen stoned to death for declaring the truth about who Jesus was and what had been done to Him. He was simply proclaiming the Gospel and it cost him his life.

While he was being killed the Scripture tells us that it was all done under the approval and at the feet of a man named Saul.

Saul was a loud and vicious persecutor of the early church and many of Christ’s followers were afraid of him. They could only see him as a threat and not as someone that God wanted to bring into His Church.

What the Church sees as a threat, God sees as redeemable.

This makes me stop and ponder our present global circumstances. The early church understood riots, political upheaval, and persecution. Yet, they made prayer, discipleship and the great commission their commitment. While they struggled to embrace Saul or reach him, God was about to raise him up to be a voice in the church that would carry on until Jesus returns.

What if the people in our world today that we look at as the enemy of what we believe in, God wants to redeem? What if, we believed, really believed that there was no one that God could not recover and bring into the Kingdom? How might that influence how we engage and interact with some of these people? How might that influence how we pray for them?

As long as we see them as a threat to what we believe, we will not see them as the ones that God loves and wants to rescue.

The early church could not reach Saul, but God revealed that He can reach anyone and give them a new identity. This is good news!

We need to remember the Gospel reaches the deepest and darkest places.

It is so easy to get lost in the “media spell”. We look at the condition of the world and see how things just keep getting darker and darker. I am sure that while there was excitement about what was going on in the early church, there was also fear and concern about the increased pressure that was upon them to be silent about the Name of Jesus. We read about their journey like it was all excitement but these were real people who laid their heads on their places of rest at night and likely wondered what tomorrow would bring that could change their level of freedom. Yet, they had caught hold of something that compelled them to persevere in preaching this Good News…..they had been rescued. This Gospel had reached them in whatever places they were in ….it still does that exact same thing today. It rescues, it delivers, it saves…and I pray we remember that while we were sinners that Christ died for us.

His love reaches…..

His love redeems…..

His love is not afraid of the dark…..

We need to remember our own human condition.

The longer we are on this faith journey, the easier it is to forget where we have come from. We begin to think we are doing pretty good and forget our human condition. Lost and broken and in need of a Saviour. If we have attained anything on this road, it is not because we are good, but because He is. The more we move away from understanding and remembering our own former lostness, the less likely we will be to love someone else in theirs.

God has a way of taking us through stuff at times to remind us of our own heart and our need of Him. So, I find myself these days wanting to be less and less of a judge over any man or woman’s life because only God really knows their story. But I also find myself more and more these days being grateful that God loves this life even with this human condition. This realization is so humbling.

We need to love more than we fear offending.

The Gospel is Good News. The early church understood that. We may have lost sight of that a bit in our generation. I am taken back to Stephen, a young man who loved Jesus more than he feared offending the crowd. He knew that God’s love for those men and women that stood ready to stone him was so great that He laid it all down at Calvary. So, Stephen did not hold back. Compelled by love, he did not fear offending.

The message of the Cross will offend, but we must not withhold love out of fear of offending. A broken, lost world needs a Saviour therefore, we must be compelled to let love lead us to share the Good News and trust God with the results.

Now is not the time to be silent. Far from it. May the Good News be the voice of the church in this hour.


  1. Reply
    Sue Holmes says:

    The 2 characters introduced here in the story of the early church are probably 2 of my favourite Bible characters. But a problem arises when I look at the details of even this small part of both of their lives.
    I believe we (myself included) have been all too guilty of glamourizing or romanticizing the early church. We claim without hesitation that we want to be a Peter, Paul or Stephen. But too often what we want is the boldness without waiting for Holy Spirit. We want the crowds without having to sit in the crowded, dank, infested prison cells. We want the glamour in God’s kingdom without encountering the persecution that comes with it. To sum it up we want the sanitized, glossy, Hollywood version of the church rather than embracing the true church. God’s church often got messy. His church would be sure to offend. His church often was persecuted by those who couldn’t venture out of their own comfort zone to embrace what God had for them.
    I AM SAUL THE PERSECUTOR. And if I truly seek to carry on the mission of the Book of Acts church I am setting myself up to also be PAUL THE PERSECUTED.
    What the Church sees as a threat, God sees as redeemable.
    I have to admit to far too often seeing individuals as the enemy of God’s kingdom. But that is looking only on the outer man. The apostle Paul does hesitate to correct me, “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)
    I wonder how many would still be lost if Rev. Wilkerson had taken my attitude towards Nicky Cruz? In this present era there are many that we can see as a threat to us & to God’s kingdom as a whole. This is when we need to learn & relearn the value of prayer … of allowing God to work through us. We need to humble ourselves & allow God to use us in whatever way He chooses in order to minister to those we consider to be the enemy. This would be my downfall.
    We need to remember our own human condition.
    “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24)
    Everything levels out at the foot of the cross. I have heard it said that there are no grandchildren in the kingdom of God. We all have had the same terrible price paid for our redemption. I am no different in God’s eyes than the drug dealer on the corner or the homeless drunk laying in the back alley. We all look the same to God. He is no respecter of persons & remembering this is one of the greatest tools that God put in my arsenal. Humility produces grace & mercy.
    We need to love more than we fear offending.
    I truly love this statement. A quote from a video I saw earlier this week should challenge me 247 … “Will you defy God to appease the world or will you defy the world to serve God?” (I admit to not being ‘woke’ enough to recognize the speaker).
    My prayer is that the message of the good news of God’s love for the very least of us will burn within me so that I cannot hold it in even if I were to try. I pray that I become a Stephen who didn’t think twice about offending the crowd in order to get the message of God’s grace & mercy out. And I pray that (God willing) a ‘Saul’ will see some fruit of God’s work in me that will create a hunger that can only be quenched by the Holy Spirit Himself.
    I pray that my life will ‘Speak Jesus”.
    Thank you Pastor for continuing to issue the challenge. ☺

  2. Reply
    J. Holmes says:

    The Church the Man couldn’t See
    We the Church

    Hello…you have dialed the number xxxx. The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.

    Have you as a church member had this encounter? We, like Saul could not identify (are disconnected) with what lay before us, and especially, if it was in direct opposition to what we have been taught, what we understood about the law and what we believe is true. Did Saul live “by the law”? Gal. 5:18 says “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” …and “are the children of God” (Rom 8:14).

    I ask the question then, why was it that the church couldn’t reach Saul? Perhaps a thought to this question….why is it so difficult to reach others at times?

    When I think about this, I ask….what brought me to a place of receiving the gospel? First of all, it is the “conviction” of the Spirit of Truth as regards sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16: 18), and the law serving” as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. “(Gal.3:24) The work of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to recognize sin (pointed out by the law) and its consequences, of judgment (death), and to point us to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    I want to share with you a little as regards my personal quest to know God. It began as a fantasy… wondering if God is “real”, like others have testified, like the scriptures have declared…. and I believe “that” to be the key to knowing God in my life. Do you understand what I just said? It is simply….the word “real” that opened the door to “Truth”. …and “Truth” is manifested as “Jesus, the Christ”. So then, it is by the Spirit of God who is the Spirit of Truth that reveals Jesus to us…and we behold His glory. For us all, it is by grace through faith in His Word that we are saved and not of ourselves…it is the gift of God. When no one could reach me, God did.

    We are humbled, in that , we like Paul, are as lost as he was, as if we have committed every sin in the book (for as but one sin has the wages of death, just as many sins likewise brings death. (James 2:10) Jesus took upon Himself our sin, took our penalty of sin (death) upon himself, that we might live.

    So then….I see Paul as one striving to walk according to what He believed as truth ACCORDING to the scriptures and customs…traditions. He had knowledge but did not know the spirit of the word. He was a learned man, proud and zealous. Because of his hunger to know truth…”Truth” caught up with him in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I was desperate to know truth… a quest that brought a personal knowledge of scripture coupled with God bringing various circumstances and people into my life, so that Jesus is revealed in the midst of my coming and goings. Jesus… as I have known His presence , you too can know Him as the Prince of Peace, His love for you, for those around you. He strengthens you and cares for you. He watches over you.

    I rewrote the title of our study …the Church the Man couldn’t see….because at one time, as a Christian…I couldn’t see the church because I had no need of the church…..so I thought. Then, I had a need…a personal need….a self need, or selfish need…that only God could help if He existed. It is in seeking truth….you will find truth. If we seek, we shall find, the scripture says. (Matt. 7:7; Jer.29:13) ) The truth is….there was something more important that God wants to give us….it is Himself.

    God is calling us into a relationship with Him and with His Church….the family of believers in Christ Jesus. God is calling us….to choose life….and that life is in His Son, Christ Jesus.

    It is God who adds to the church daily. (Acts 2:47) Jesus said…”Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt.16:18) It is upon this rock (Jesus) that I (Jesus) will build my church. He Jesus is building His church. Jesus is the Rock, the cornerstone.

    Jesus reached me through the church. In a time of desperation, I began to remember, to consider what knowledge the church had taught me about God. Seeds were sown. Love and the warning of the watchman go hand in hand. Revelation comes through the Spirit of God.

    Can the Man see Christ in the Church? God will do the rest.

  3. Reply
    P. Sampson says:

    When I look at my own life I have to ask myself … would I stand up for Christ even if I had to go to Jail or give my life for him!! I hope I would . Because if I did not, then there is no power in the Gospel or the Church… we are the Church! The closer we walk with Him the bolder we should get showing his Love mercy and Grace, especially in these turbulent times and be a witness of who He is… the Alpha and Omega.


Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.