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    June 21, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. Acts 9:1-22” The Signs of the Times, 9, 24.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Lesson for Pacific Coast-June 30. Acts 9:1-22.
    Notes on the Lesson.

    “And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest.”-Literally he was “breathing threatening and slaughter;” he was not merely uttering threats, as “breathing out” would seem to signify, but he was giving all his strength to the work of persecuting the disciples. He not only breathed out slaughter, but he breathed it in; with each threat, or act, of persecution, his zeal increased. That which we breathe pervades the entire system; so the spirit of persecution had taken entire possession of Saul; it was for that purpose that he lived. This shows how entirely he gave himself to what he thought was duty; it also helps us to realize what an apparently unpromising subject he was, of which to make a humble disciple.SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.1

    What was it that transformed this relentless persecutor into an earnest, zealous Christian? A short sentence tells the whole story. He saw Jesus. It is not worth while to notice the discussions of commentators as to whether or not Saul did really see the Lord, except to wonder that such discussions ever could have taken place. Ananias said that the Lord appeared to him in the way, Acts 9:17, and he himself expressly says that he saw the Lord. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8. But the high priest had also seen Jesus, and so had many of the Jews, yet they still remained unbelieving; the difference was that Saul was really desirous of serving God, all the others were not. One look at Christ was enough to show him his error, and turn all his energies in the opposite direction. There are many of us who profess to be honest in our desire to serve God, and yet we are not very active in the service. There is no such radical change visible in our lives, as was seen in Paul’s. Why is this? Perhaps we have not seen Jesus. We have not let our eyes rest upon the perfect pattern. It is not because we have not the opportunity, but because we lacked the purpose. Could we see him in the sufferings and shame that he endured for us, perhaps we too might lose sight of self, and run with patient continuance the race that is set before us, steadfastly “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.2

    From Paul’s case we may learn what true conversion is. It is a direct turning around. His course after he had seen Jesus was exactly opposite to what it was before. His natural energy and zeal remained the same, but was turned into another channel. It would be a wonderful thing to see a stream that is rushing madly down the mountain-side, change its course, and flow in the opposite direction; but such a thing would be no more wonderful than is the change effected by the Spirit of God on the human heart. The daily life is the only test of conversion.SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.3

    It must be remembered also that Paul was not a heathen nor an infidel. He was an honored member of the church-the one that God had a specially designated as his own. Not only this, but he was one of the strictest in the performance of every duty. No doubt he would have scoffed at the idea that he needed conversion, yet he was ignorant of the essential element of true religion. May there not be many in our time who are in similar circumstances? The testing point now is the law of God, especially the fourth commandment. It is often said, “What you say about the Sabbath cannot be true, or our ministers and learned men would have found it out and told us.” Well, Saul was a leading man, familiar with the Bible, and he was ignorant of the truth; the high priest and his associates were the leaders in the church, the ministers of God, yet they harden their hearts against the truth. Is it any more to be wondered at that such a thing should happen now and then? The Bible says that just this state of things will exist in the last days. As it was then, so it is now, that the majority will continue to fight against the truth, instead of accepting and obeying and it.SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.4

    As soon as Paul had become a disciple he commenced preaching. He had found the truth, and he lost no time in proclaiming it to others. He was not content to be a silent disciple, he must sound a note of warning. His preaching, also, was not apologetic. Neither the dread of persecution nor the fear of displeasing wealthy Jews, could hinder him from preaching the plain truth. And so he “preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.5

    What Saul did not say is worth notice, as well as what he did say. He did not say, “It makes no difference what a man believes, if he is only sincere.” There never was a more sincere man in the world than Paul, yet it made a great deal of difference what he believed. When he believed that the Christians were heretics, he persecuted them; but when he believed the truth, he strengthened them. He showed his sincerity by accepting the truth as soon as it was presented to him. He did not say, “Well my father and mother believed just as I do, and instructed me in this way; I cannot believe that they were wicked persons.” This is a very common excuse for not obeying the commandments of God, but Paul was not desirous of shielding himself by an excuse. Neither did he say, “If it is true that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, why have not the wise men of our church and nation found it out? Gamaliel never taught any such thing, and I don’t profess to be wiser than he. It is not for me to set myself up as knowing more than the elders of Israel.” Who can imagine Saul using such words to the Lord? How absurd and childish such excuses would have sounded. Yet there are hundreds of professors who are not ashamed to make just such frivolous excuses for not keeping the Sabbath of the Lord. They would hardly think of making them if they were talking to the Lord in person, as Saul was. No one should offer an excuse now, that he would be ashamed to offer at the Judgment. The Lord hears these excuses now, just the same as though they were addressed to him, and those who make them will have to meet them at the last day. E. J. W.SITI June 21, 1883, page 281.6

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