Explore the Bible Study: Converted

6:22 PM

When someone announces that they have become a Christian, how do we respond? Do we respond with celebration, caution, or skepticism? It most likely depends on how much we know about the person; yet we know we should celebrate every person's profession of faith in Christ. When Saul became a Christian, he too experienced most of these responses but it didn't slow him down. His radical encounter with Jesus changed him forever, and God immediately gave him opportunities to share the gospel. This is the focus of today's Explore the Bible study: Converted.

Teaching Ideas for this Session

LOOK UP - Getting focused on the text

I have provided two options.
  • One requires you to summarize the testimonies from an article by Christianity Today, Top 10 Testimonies of 2014. After sharing the highpoints of each person's testimony, you discuss with the group whether they would be more accepting or skeptical of the person's testimony.
  • The other illustration option is based on a story from the ETB Study Guide: 
Jack grew up in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. He became an atheist at age 15, convinced there was no place in modern thinking for belief in a supernatural deity. Over the next 15 years, however, he read certain religious works and developed close friendships with two Christian men whose influence helped convince Jack to renounce atheism. At age 33, Jack confessed his faith in Jesus Christ and reconnected with the church of his childhood. 
Who was this man whose conversion caught people by surprise, including—by his own admission—Jack himself? Most people today know him as C. S. Lewis. He was one of the most persuasive Christian apologists of the twentieth century and author of timeless literary works such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity. 
Did this story about C.S. Lewis surprise you? Are we surprised when people who don’t seem to have any interest in God become believers? Are we sometimes skeptical about a person's conversion?
    LOOK IN: Unpacking the text

    Discussion ideas for Acts 9:3-6
    • What do you suppose went through his mind when the voice identified Himself as Jesus, “the One you are persecuting”?
    • When we see people who are comfortable with their view of God (or lack thereof) and seemingly have no desire to change, what do we assume about them? Do we feel as if they are without hope? What can we learn from Saul’s conversion regarding these assumptions?
    • Why did Jesus ask “Why are you persecuting Me?” instead of asking why was he persecuting the church or His people? What does this communicate about the relationship of the church to Jesus?
    • Do you think Saul thought he was on a mission to persecute Jesus or to persecute believers?
    • Do we view the persecution we face as believers as something done against us, or do we identify it as being an attack on Jesus? How could changing our perspective help us face difficulties or challenges to our faith? How would it change how we respond to the attackers? (We should remember that, although people’s anger is often unleashed on believers, they are in reality rejecting Jesus.)
    • Jesus confronted Paul regarding His sin. In what ways does Jesus confront people today?
    Video Idea: The following Video could be used as a part of the study of this passage.

    When discussing Acts 9:7-9: Consider using Acts 26:12-15 to offer more explanation regarding what transpired between Jesus and Saul on the road.

    Discussion options for Acts 9:10-20 (Expanded from ETB text reference)
    • If you were Ananias, how would you have felt when you heard that Saul was blind? (Relief, got what he deserved, God was judging him, etc.)
    • Would you have had the same concerns as Ananias? 
    • (Reflection) Would you have obeyed as Ananias did, or just discarded the opportunity God was giving you to invest in someone whose life had changed? 
    • Who around you needs your help with their relationship with Christ? What can you do to help them?
    • Based on Acts 9:15, would you agree that everyone who is saved is also given a new purpose or mission in life?
    • What was Saul’s mission to be? (to take His name to the Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites)
    • Do we sometimes feel as if being a believer somehow exempts us from suffering? Are we afraid to suffer for sharing the gospel?
    • Simultaneous to the restoration of his sight, Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit. How is this similar to the disciples waiting in Jerusalem in Acts 1:8? What does this communicate about Saul’s ability to be a witness? (He needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit)
    • Saul was also baptized. What does this communicate to the world in which Saul lived? (Saul was now a part of the body of Christ and demonstrated his unity with the church through Christian baptism. It demonstrated his commitment to Christ. He associated himself with those he once persecuted.)
    • After Saul was baptized what did he do next? (see verse 20) Why is this significant?
    LOOK OUT - Responding to the text

    Video Option: Use to begin the discussion

    Additional Text: Consider going to Ephesians 2:1-9 to help everyone understand how much of a life-changing experience Saul's conversion was and should be for all who receive Christ.

    Summarize and apply options:
    Nothing is different in Paul’s conversion except the circumstances. Every salvation experience shares the common threads of God’s love in reaching lost men and women. When God saves us He calls us to a purpose designed to help the church be witnesses, and it is the joy of our lives to discover and accomplish that purpose for His glory. Saul committed wholeheartedly to following Christ. He didn’t look back or back off on his commitment. His life was one that changed the course of history. If we profess Christ, then the same Jesus who spoke to Saul speaks to us. The same Holy Spirit who empowered Saul is working in us as well. We can be a part of seeing people’s lives changed through their encounter with Jesus!
    • When you see someone who is obviously lost, do you back away or begin praying for an open door to share the gospel? This week, pray about how you can share Jesus even with the Sauls you encounter who are completely satisfied with their lives without Christ.
    • Consider how you can help others who have come to Christ to grow in their faith?

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