Introduction: Two weeks ago, in our discussion of Hebrews 4:1-6, we
saw two groups who heard the gospel, but only one accepted it. One
group accepted the gospel because they combined it with faith. With
that acceptance, the group entered into God’s rest. Hebrews 4:6
continues to say that some will not enter into God’s rest “because of
their disobedience.” If obedience is the fruit of revival, what does
it mean to obey? Let’s dive into our Bible and review some chapters
in the life of Saul (who became Paul) to better understand the
meaning of obedience!
- Road to Damascus
- Read Acts 9:1-2. Adam Clarke’s Commentary reveals that the
language in verse 1 is the same as that used by people
preparing for war. Saul was at war with the followers of
Jesus. He was like a dragon breathing fire! What was
Saul’s motivation? (He believed that he was obeying God.)
- Read Acts 9:3-5. What do you think is going through Saul’s
mind? He has been doing the will of God, he has been
enthusiastic about stamping out the followers of Jesus,
and now Jesus comes to him supernaturally and says that
Jesus is God! (My world would be coming apart. What I
thought was service to God was service against God.)
- Have you had that experience in your life? Know
anyone else who has?
- Should Saul have known better?
- Read Acts 9:7-9. Saul is blind. Is this just punishment
for his evil work? Will it keep him from persecuting
Jesus’ followers? Why is Saul not eating or drinking? (It
would ruin my appetite to think I had been opposing God
and He punished me with blindness!)
- Is their any symbolism here? Why didn’t God just slow
Saul down in some other way? (Jesus, the Light, gives
literal darkness to a man who has been in spiritual
- What is the bright spot here? What might give Saul a
glimmer of hope? (God tells Saul ( Acts 9:6)that God
has a task for him in the future.)
- What lesson about obedience is Jesus teaching Saul?
- Read Acts 9:10-12. What is Saul doing instead of eating?
(He is praying. He has hope because God sent him a vision
about restoring his sight.)
- What does this tell us about Saul? (He is serious
about his relationship with God. He has doing the
wrong thing, God struck him blind, but instead of
rebelling against God, Saul turns to God for help.
Saul shows trust.)
- What does this tell us about God? (God pursues even
the enemies of His people. Saul might well have
believed that his persecution warranted permanent
blindness. But God, in His love and mercy, gave him
hope that he would see again.)
- Ananias and Obedience
- Read Acts 9:13-14. What has Ananias heard that he believes
God does not know about Saul? (Saul is dangerous to
- Does this show trust?
- Read Acts 9:15-16. Could God have said, “Just do it, I
know what is going on. I’m God and you are not, so obey
Me!” (Yes, of course. That is essentially what God said
to Job. Job 38-41.)
- What is missing from God’s answer? (Reassurance that
Ananias will not be harmed!)
- What encouragement do you get from God’s answer to
Ananias? (God explains why it is important that
Ananias goes to Saul. He also suggests that Saul, who
has created so much suffering, will have to suffer.)
- Read Acts 9:17. Ananias obeys! Why do you think God sent
Ananias to Saul? Was it a test of faith and trust? (It was
that, but I believe that God wanted Saul to link up with
- What are the two goals for Ananias’ visit? (To
restore Saul’s sight and to fill him with the Holy
- Are those God’s goals for you?
- Read Acts 9:18-19. Why do you think the detail about
“scales” falling from Saul’s eyes is given to us? (To make
the supernatural nature of this event clear. Perhaps it
was lightening that hit, and Saul’s sight recovered
naturally. This detail confirms this was no lightening
- Read Acts 9:20-23. What does this teach us about the power
of Saul’s witness? (They could not overcome his logic,
they could not show his conversion was fake, the only way
to beat him was to kill him.)
- Saul has now become known as Paul, and he later recounts
this story to King Agrippa. Read Acts 26:16-18 to see how
Paul recalls Jesus’ words to him. What does Jesus tell
Saul/Paul to do? (Jesus sends him as a gospel witness to
the Jews and Gentiles.)
- What does obedience mean to Paul? (To fulfill the
calling given to him by God.)
- Read Acts 26:19-20. Does Paul obey? (Yes.)
- Recall two weeks ago when studied about God’s people
coming to the border of Canaan? The obedience question was
whether they would trust God to enter the promised land.
In Paul’s case, the obedience question is whether he will
trust God’s calling in this new mission to be a witness.
What does this suggest about the nature of obedience? (The
main issue in obedience is trusting God. Sometimes we are
so focused on the small things of life we miss how we are
doing on the big issue of trust.)
- King Agrippa and Obedience
- Back to King Agrippa. Years later, Paul has been arrested
for witnessing to others about Jesus. Let’s read Acts
25:23-27. What kind of attitude do these rulers have
- Do they think he is a dangerous criminal? (Hardly.
They think he is entertainment. They believe he is
interesting. Governor Festus thinks that Paul is
innocent of the charges.)
- Read Acts 26:1-3. What does this tell us about Agrippa’s
knowledge of the Bible? (It sounds like he knows something
about the Jewish religion.)
- In his defense, Paul tells about his religious background,
the calling Jesus gave to him, and his work to advance
Judaism. Why? What does this have to do with the charges
against Paul? (Remember that Paul was obedient to his
calling. Paul is witnessing, telling his conversion story,
and mostly leaving the defense to God.)
- Why would Paul use his conversion story to witness?
(How can you debate a person’s story about his life?)
- Read Acts 26:22-24. Is this how you debate a person’s life
story – tell them that they are insane?
- What does Festus’ comment reveal about his views of
Paul? (He thinks Paul is a highly educated man. This
is no common criminal. This is a sophisticated
- Do you think Festus is serious about the insanity
charge? (I think Festus just disagrees, and by
charging that Paul is crazy, Festus does not have to
think about it too much.)
- Read Acts 26:25-27. If anyone challenged your sanity, what
would you say? How does Paul handle this charge? (He
turns his attention to King Agrippa, and suggests that if
Festus knew more he would not challenge his sanity.)
- Read Acts 26:28. Is King Agrippa open to Paul’s witness?
On which points does the King disagree?
- What is the King’s response to this call to
obedience? (He wants more time! He does not dispute
any point, he simply says I need more time for such a
- Read Acts 26:29. Who is Paul’s audience? (He stands before
only one or two who have the power to adjudicate his
guilt, but he stands before many more who are hearing the
- Are you alert to all those who may hear your witness?
- When you have an audience who wants to hear you, are
you alert to the opportunity to witness?
- Friend, when it comes to obedience, are you focused on the
big issues of life: faith and trust in God, and God’s
calling on your life? If not, why not commit today to
make these a priority?
- Next week: Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of