Second Stage Launch: Acts 9:26-28
“26) When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27) But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28) And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.” Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭26‬-‭28
When Saul returned to Jerusalem, the Christians shunned him. They did not believe that he had become a believer. Many had suffered severely at his hands. He had been the source of much pain and suffering.
Our past reputation can be an anchor to hold us back. It takes time, consistency and a new direction in life to rebuild a reputation. Philippians 3:4-14 captures Paul’s resolve to put Jesus Christ first in his life. He made knowing Jesus Christ and sharing in His suffering his new pursuit.
I believe he had to resolve his own past. He did this by seeking Jesus, forgiving himself, forgetting what was behind and pressing forward to embrace his upward calling. (Philippians 3:12-14) He finally determined to press on with Jesus despite how the church treated him. He blazed a new path for the glory of God. Eventually his name changed from Saul to Paul. It is a mystery when and how his name changed.
Barnabas was the first to embrace him. How appropriate. The Son of Encouragement stood with Saul. (Acts 4:30) God never leaves us alone. It was Barbaras that introduced Saul to Peter and James the half brother of Jesus. (See his Testimony in Galatians 1:13-2:10) His story becomes a bit confusing at this point.
According to the Galatians account, Saul went into Arabia for three years and then returned to Damascus before meeting Peter and James. He stayed with Peter for fifteen days at that time and then spent fourteen more years in ministry before returning to Jerusalem. He became a key leader in the Church at Antioch where he was launched into his mission trips. (See Acts 11:19-26 and 13:1-2) At this point, he was still know as Saul.
Let me make a few observations from the life of Saul. First, though he started witnessing for Jesus immediately, Saul spent three years of intense focus getting to know Jesus. (See Galatians 1:15-17) He took time to build a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This time of getting to know Jesus as his “surpassing value” became his launching pad for a new life and ministry. (Philippians 3:7-11). Don’t skip this stage! Attending a Bible college or seminary does not fulfill this stage!
Second, though Saul was eventually endorsed by the apostles, he didn’t sit around waiting for them to embrace or send him. He started ministering broadly to people, worked with the church at Antioch and was sent out by the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 13:1-4) He was close to Barnabas and under the authority of the Gentile church at Antioch. But he didn’t wait for man’s approval because he had God’s approval. His credentials came from his gifts, calling, amazing walk with Jesus Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He was God made and not man made. (Galatians 1:1)
Finally, he was was under proper authority and not a maverick, rebel or self appointed teacher or prophet. This is important! He was mentored by Barnabas, sent out by the church at Antioch and eventually approved and endorsed by the apostles in Jerusalem. (Galatians 2:1-10) Rebellion is Satan’s trap into deception, heresy and false teaching.
So, what can we learn from the story of Saul related to a call into ministry? Let me quickly summarize.
Start by building a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Get busy ministering for Jesus right where you are to the people around you. Seek out a godly mentor like Barnabas. Join an on fire and alive local church. Submit to godly authority. Be prepared to be sent out by the Holy Spirit. Focus on building the ministry God entrusts to you rather than criticizing others. Recognize that the Father has called and sent you to bear much fruit for His glory. (See John 15:8; 16) Courageously walk through the doors God clearly opens before you. Finally, abide in Jesus, walk in the Spirit and remain faithful. Don’t get distracted by sin, Satan or the world.
I sometimes have people ask me to mentor them. I say; “Read the Daily Bible Commentary every day. Go back and read past completed Daily Commentaries I have written on other books. Over forty-five years of my ministry experience is packed into them. Attend a Freedom Quest Workshop or order the Manual. Go on a short term mission trip. Courageously follow Jesus. When these fall in line, I will find a way to be a Barnabas and pour into your life with personal correspondence… but it might not be needed at that point because Jesus will become your mentor.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global