Faith Refined On The Front Lines: Acts 9:23-25
“23) When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24) but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 26) but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.” Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭23‬-‭25‬
We do not know how long Saul remained in Damascus after his conversion, but he had a very fruitful ministry. He was spreading the gospel, accumulating some disciples and confounding the Jews. Soon he became the target of deadly persecution.
The Jews living there devised a plot to put Saul to death. From my perspective, any religious persuasion that breeds and advocates death and violence invalidates itself. Satan brings death and destruction, but Jesus always brings life. (John 10:10) Never loose sight of this contrast.
It is amazing how quickly the prophecy about Saul given to Ananias in Acts 9:15-16 was becoming reality. His opposition and suffering began almost immediately.
Beware: “what you sow you reap.” (Galatians 6:7-8) By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2) Saul was receiving back exactly what he had been dishing out. The letters and authority he had received from the high priest against any belonging to the Way was now being applied to him. (Acts 9:1-2) In a sense, he was like Uriah who carried his own death warrant to the front lines. (See 2 Samual 11:14-24)
But, the believers had now become his defenders. When the plot was exposed, his disciples took him by night and let him down through a basket over the city wall. His foes were watching the gates night and day that they might put him to death. 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 sheds light on the plot. His eminent danger came from high places and was very real.
Suffering and escapes from death soon became a way of life for Saul. Though he suffered much, he became an example of the sovereignty and protection of God. The time and means of his death was in Gods hands.
Last week we spent time with a friend from the Ukraine who has spent the past year doing relief work on the front lines of the war with Russia. She related many miraculous stories of divine protection and the tragic ravages of war, violence, death and destruction. Her theology has been deeply tested and refined. It was so refreshing spending time with her.
Debby and I were like sponges soaking in her stories and vibrance for Jesus. Her faith has been honed on the front lines of service with rockets and bullets flying overhead. She has become an amazing woman of God.
Paul’s faith was also honed on the front lines. I am beginning to think that faith learned in safety, comfort and from textbooks is highly dysfunctional. Only western rational faith has the luxury of arguing over theology with a beer in one hand and the tv remote in the other while sucking on sermonettes for christianettes.
The early church was birthed, lived and many suffered and died on the front lines. (Read 2 Corinthians 11:22-33) The western church is suffering from not suffering for its faith. There are no apostate believers among the Martyrs. Those willing to die for Christ and the gospel live courageously for Christ and the gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global