Acts 9:1-9

Acts 9:1-9

Conversion of Saul

The mention of Damascus proves the gospel had now spread to Syria and this rapid spread had been partly due to persecution.

Saul’s intention was to apprehend believers (believing Jews) and bring them bound to Jerusalem (100 miles) by the authority of the chief priest.

The light that shone around him was from heaven and was a revelation of the glorious body of the risen Christ (like the transfiguration and Christ’s appearing to John in Revelation).

Christ spoke accusing Paul of persecuting himself.

This appearance was important because it was his initial conversion and call to apostleship (an apostle had to have seen and be called by Christ personally). See also Acts 22:5-11, 26:14ff and I Cor.15:9,10.

Saul knew it was the Lord when he declared himself to be Jesus.

To kick against the pricks, a picture from animal husbandry, means to resist Christ and his work either in the conscience or providence or his people.

Initially it appears Paul did not know who spoke and he was seeking instruction regarding his own salvation.

The men with Saul heard the voice but did not really hear it (Isaiah 6:9) and saw the light but “no man”. The revelation and real illumination was only for Paul (II Cor.4:6).

We think Paul was struck blind as a sign of his own blindness and to show God’s power, humble him and then heal him (Deut.28:28, Rev.3:17) Others struck with blindness were the Sodomites (Gen.19:11), the sorcerer Elymas (Acts 13:11)and the syrian soldiers (II Kings 6:18).

Paul did not eat or drink for three days because of the massive spiritual upheaval and probably mourning over his sin and as an aid to prayer.

Saul’s conversion was anything but the norm and truly supernatural and unique because he was to be a special example of grace(I Tim.1:13-15), told how much he would suffer and be specially used by God as a master church builder. It would also become well known as his persecution was (Acts 9:21).

Next study (DV) Saturday April 27th on Acts 9:10-22


Consecration of Israel (5)

Covenant with Israel (5)

Sung Psalm 110:1-6

Reading Exodus 19:1-9

We have covered covenant mediator, people, blood, book and now we have:

Covenant Calling

Adam-to look for the seed of the woman, work etc

Noah-multiply, have dominion, carry out capital punishment, eat meat etc

Abraham-circumcision, teach children (Gen.26:5)

Moses/Israel-moral law (Ten Commandments), ceremonial and civil laws.

New Covenant calling-Romans 12, Matthew 5-7, I Peter, practical parts of epistles.

Israel en-masse made a covenant commitment/confession (Ex.19:8, 24:3,4,7) but it was not conditional on their obedience because it is called MY covenant by God and it was established UNILATERALLY when he redeemed them from Egypt. Sadly within a short period they reneged on their confession it and built the golden calf because they are not all (covenant/spiritual) Israel who are of Israel. Only the elect who were truly in covenant fellowship with God would obey him for ever (Ex.19:9) and enter the rest of the promised land (signifying rest in Christ).

We had a wide-ranging discussion about the “common operations” of the Holy Spirit. Biblical facts are that by the Spirit working in irresistible grace we have salvation now and forever. But the Spirit also upholds all things and all people, enabling them to do all their work and play, gives them abilities and good things but also in their impenitence hardens them, sends strong delusion and eventually condemns them to hell. “For from him, to him and through him are all things…” Romans 11:36.

Image of God?

Many believers and influential Christian organisations have a wrong view of what image man bears. They include Answers in Genesis headed by Ken Ham, Christian Concern and the Christian Institute.


Fallen man bears the image of fallen Adam. We are by nature earthy, we are totally depraved and incapable of doing any good. If we say man retains something of the image of God then we say man retains some good and is not totally depraved. Scripture teaches that we are earthy (I Cor.15:49) and have a nature wholly corrupted by sin and in the image of the devil (Psalm 51.John 8:44). This is an image of corruption. The only way of salvation is the be elect in Christ and bear the image of the heavenly second and last Adam (Eph. 4:24) whose righteousness is imputed to us and then you will one day have a spiritual incorruptible body. The image of God is unsullied righteousness NOT rationality, a will, or reason which Satan and his demons also have!

Consecration of Israel (4)

The Covenant Book

Psalm 81:1-8

Exodus 23:24-24:8

The covenant book was what Moses had recently written (v7), previously spoken (v3) and then read.

It’s content was the judgments initially spoken by God and eventually written down in Exodus 20:1 to 23:33. These judgements included the Decalogue. Simply put Exodus 20 is the moral law, chapters 21 and 22 are the civil law and 23 is the ceremonial law. There is no other covenant like this in all Scripture except perhaps I Sam.10:25 but that concerned behaviour in the new kingdom. The moral part of this law is eternal and was written on Adam’s heart pre-fall, in ours post regeneration and stands unchanged till Christ comes again.

Why did God get his word written down? Two probable reasons:

  1. There were more people (over a million)
  2. They were entering the land and would spread out.

Why was the book sprinkled? (Heb.9:19) What does sprinkled blood signify?

Two things:

  1. The sprinkled blood set apart or consecrated objects for divine worship
  2. It signified forgiveness (I Peter 1:2)

Hebrew 9:23 calls the tabernacle and all its accoutrement’s and activities patterns of what happens in heaven, the true tabernacle of God.


The Covenant Calling

This was conveyed by the book. Ex.20:1-17 was all moral law except the Sabbath being the seventh day.

Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-40

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Philip was instructed to head towards the desert road leading to Gaza, some forty to fifty miles from Jerusalem. Being a desert there would be little or no water, no people, no sustenance. Then having encountered the man by God’s providence and the sovereign seeking of his lost sheep, he was then instructed to join the courtier in his chariot.

The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, the son of Ham and were very dark-skinned people among whom there were Jews who traded. It had been part of the Persian empire and at one time fought Israel. It was a heathen people to whom God promised salvation and represented the Gentiles in a number of Scriptures. Gen.10:6-8, II Chron.14:9, Esther 1:1, I Kings 1:10-13, Ps.68:31, Isaiah 11:11,43:3, 45:14, Jer.13:23, 38:10,39:16-18, Amos 9:7. Ethiopia had many Falasha Jews who were transported to Israel when communists deposed their Emperor Haile Selassie. There have been Christians in the nation for centuries but for most of that time their religion has been a dead and corrupt orthodox one.

This man was the queen of Ethiopia’s treasurer, a eunuch and a proselyte Jew travelling to one of the feasts in Jerusalem. He was a stranger who had been circumcised and joined God’s people in worship. Much can be learned about “strangers” in both testaments-the name means non-Jew, foreigner, alien or guest. They were to obey Israel’s laws, be circumcised and treated well. Gen.17:12-14,Ex.12:19,48,49, 20:10, Lev.16:29, Num.15:14,15, 19:14, Deut.10:19, 11:14,29:22, II sam.22:45, I Kings 8:41, Ps.18:44, Is.14:1,56:6, Ezek.44:9, Matt.25:43, Eph.2:19.

We cannot assume he was alone. We know he was in a powerful chariot and likely armed.

The Spirit may have spoken to Philip either audibly or internally (c.f. Elijah)

Philip as the eunuch if he understood what he was reading because everything concerning faith depends on understanding c.f. the good soil in the parable are those who understood.

He was reading Isaiah 53-unsure whether in Greek or Hebrew.

He was reading aloud for his own benefit, or perhaps for anyone with him, because Philip heard him.

The eunuch suspected Philip could help him because the question implied that.

The eunuch’s problem was interpreting the prophecy.

Philip preached Christ, the fulfilment of all O.T. prophecy, who died and rose, poured out his spirit and commands repentance, faith and baptism with water.

The eunuch asked for baptism at the oasis.

The requirement for adult baptism is repentance and faith in Christ as the son of God.

Verse 38 by no means supports baptism by immersion because the prepositions can mean they went down TO the water and came up FROM the water. Implying they both went into the water would mean they were both submersed! Scripture teaches baptism by sprinkling or pouring signifying the sprinkling of Christ’s atoning blood and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us from above.

The Spirit caused Philip to vanish because his work was done and he had other work to do namely preaching in all the coastal towns as far as Caesarea where he eventually settled (Acts 21:8). He was an evangelist which was an apostolic helper who preached and had miraculous power.

The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in the joy of God and no doubt to be a witness to his countrymen and found an Ethiopian church. Sadly it declined and became apostate within a few centuries.

Next study (DV) April 6th on Acts 9:1-22


The Real St.Patrick

New LRF Blog Post

Who Was “St Patrick”?

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 01:21 AM PDT

Patrick was born in the Fourth/Fifth Century in the village of Bannavem Taburniae, probably somewhere in Western Wales or England. His father was Calpornius, a deacon; and his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest or presbyter. Although raised in a Christian home, Patrick, by his own admission “did not know the true God,” when, at the age of sixteen, pirates abducted him and sold him into slavery. Patrick attributes this calamity to the chastisement of God: “deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep his commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation.” Patrick’s captors brought him to Ireland, where he became a shepherd on the lonely Irish hills. In God’s providence and grace, however, Ireland became the place of Patrick’s new birth: “And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God.” The young convert praises God’s “mercy on [his] youth and ignorance,” as well as God’s fatherly care of him: “[He] guarded me and comforted me as would a father his son.” He escaped from Ireland, but later returned to be a missionary to the Irish.

Although claimed by the Roman church as an emissary of the pope, Patrick and the British church were not under the papal yoke, nor would the Irish church be under papal authority until many centuries after Patrick, when in 1155 pope Adrian IV, the only English pope, granted Ireland to King Henry II of England. Typical Roman doctrines such as purgatory and Mariolatry are absent from Patrick’s writings, although there are some areas, such as his citations from the Apocrypha and reliance on dreams as divine guidance, where we would disagree with him theologically. Significantly, Patrick was neither an Arian (a denier of the Trinity) nor a Pelagian (a denier of the efficacy of God’s grace and a proponent of freewill theology) and he quotes repeatedly from the Scriptures, establishing them, and not the Church or the pope, as his authority in doctrine and life.

Patrick’s Trinitarianism is solid, although the legend that has him explaining the Trinity to the pagans of Ireland with the bad analogy of the shamrock is almost certainly spurious, being first mentioned more than one thousand years after Patrick. Patrick writes about Christ, “We declare [him] to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning.” Later, Patrick writes, “Christ abideth forever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit before time, and now, and in all eternity.”

Patrick’s doctrine of salvation is a powerful confession that God alone is the Saviour through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit by grace alone. The missionary to Ireland never attributes salvation in any part to his good works. Indeed, Patrick begins his confession in these words: “I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful.” He attributes his deliverance from unbelief not to the power of his freewill, but to God: “the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief.” In a beautiful, homely way, he describes his conversion: “before I was humiliated I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and he that is mighty came and in his mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall.”

Having committed his soul to Christ the Saviour, Patrick had personal assurance of eternal life: “On that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to his image, for of him, and by him, and in him we shall reign.”

[All citations are from “St. Patrick’s Confession, one of only two of his extant writings].

Rev.Martyn McGeown, Missionary-Pastor, Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Consecration of Israel (4)

Israel’s Covenant Consecration

Sung Psalm 50:1-6

Reading Exodus 24

The covenant people

Looking back in Scripture at the progressive revelation of God’s one covenant of grace we start with an enumeration of those with whom God covenanted and we have Adam and Eve (2 people) and eventually their progeny (the seed of the woman) (Gen.3:15). With Noah (Gen.6:18) we have Noah and his family (8 people). Next to enter into covenant were Abraham and his house (approximately 1000 people comprising 318 men and their families) and through him an innumerable seed (Gen.14:14, 15:18). The innumerable seed started with Jacob’s sons and their progeny (70 in Egypt) multiplying to 603,550 men and their dependants (likely 2 million plus) by the time they left that land. These were the twelve tribes or children of Israel with whom God entered covenant through the mediator Moses (Ex.19:6) whom God called a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The New Covenant in Christ covers all the Old Testament saints plus the N.T. saints and comprises billions from every nation, the mediator now being seated at God’s right hand.

The covenant blood

With Adam the blood shed was incidental in God’s clothing of their nakedness. It is likely that Abel’s lamb was sacrificed and blood deliberately spilt or sprinkled. With Noah (Gen.8:20) there was undoubtedly an altar and bloody sacrifice. With Abraham initially with the animals cleaved in two there was no deliberated blood letting (Gen.12:7,8) but there was later in the typical offering of Isaac (the ram providentially substituting for him in Gen.22. With Moses in Ex.20:24 we have an altar with burnt offerings and peace offerings which were offered by fit young men along with Moses who acts as priest and there was more blood requiring basins (chapter 24) and a means of sprinkling. So we can see a clear progression in the use of blood in the covenant which of course culminated in Christ’s atoning death through the better mediator and eternal high priest namely himself (Heb.9:15,18-20). In the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matt.26, Mark 14, I Cor.11) Christ’s bloody sacrifice is represented in the bread and wine.


Baptist theology found wanting!


Infant baptism is proved from Scripture not so much by a direct and explicit ‘command’ saying “Infants must be baptised,” or by an explicit ‘example’ in the NT (i.e. “… and the infants were baptized aswell …).

Infant baptism is proved, however, as the Westminster Confession puts it, “by good and necessary consequence” (WCF 1:6). It is “deduced” from Scripture. This, of course, involves getting your thinking cap on in order to see this. (BTW, it is quite interesting that that phrase was left out by the Baptists when they copied their confession from the Westminster. I wonder why … ).

From my own research, I would like to put into my own words how infant baptism can be “deduced” from Holy Writ. Here is a brief overview. You may disagree with some of the premises, but this is the Reformed position:

(1) There is only one people of God throughout Scripture. The church IS Israel. And this can be proved in many ways.

(2) There is only one covenant (a covenant of grace) revealed in Scripture — in the OT it was revealed under types and shadows, in the new, it is unfolded in its fullness. The essence of the covenant is *friendship with God*.

(3) There is only one covenant ‘promise’ (“to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee in their generations”); and that same covenant ‘promise’ is made to the same people all throughout Scripture, namely, “to believers and their seed” (Gen. 17:7 Acts 2:39).

(4) There is only one way of salvation in both OT and NT: namely, salvation in Jesus Christ, by grace, through faith. It was never by works, nor was it ever conditional upon man.

(5) There is only one covenant ‘sign’ in each dispensation. In the OT the sign was circumcision, and in the NT that same sign was replaced by baptism. And what’s more, both circumcision and baptism symbolise the same one spiritual reality, namely, the removal of the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11-12). Circumcision was never merely an “ethnic marker”; and it was never symbolic of “physical earthly blessings”; what it symbolised was purely *spiritual* things: e.g. the removal of sin, and other things. And water baptism has that very same meaning: the removal of sins by the washing of the Holy Spirit.

(6) Because of this organic continuity and unity all throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, the onus is actually on the BAPTIST (or other anti-Infant Baptists) to show where in the NT that children are now ‘cut off’ or ‘excluded’ from the one covenant of grace. There needs to be an express statement or command saying that. If this can’t be found, then it must be conceded that children of believers are STILL recipients of the covenant promise and therefore are STILL comprehended as being in the covenant.

And because they are comprehended as being included in the covenant, they are candidates for baptism (for baptism is a sign of the covenant).

“For THE PROMISE is unto you (believer) AND TO YOUR CHILDREN” (Acts 2:39). God never promises to be a God unto those who are ‘outside’ of or ‘excluded’ from His covenant. All recipients of His covenant promise are members of the covenant. Therefore because “the promise” is “to your children,” they also must be seen or viewed as covenant children.

Support Felix!

Prayer Alert

Please pray for vital Christian freedom case

Felix Ngole’s case will be heard tomorrow at the Court of Appeal 
Since 2016 the Christian Legal Centre has been supporting Felix Ngole after he was expelled from his social work course at the University of Sheffield. What had he done to deserve such a punishment? On Facebook, outside of course hours, Felix had expressed what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality.

His case, due to be heard tomorrow and Wednesday will have implications for whether the 6 million regulated professionals in the UK truly have freedom of speech.

Watch Felix’s prayer update

“I pray the court will recognise the freedom to express my Christian faith.”

The effect of this decision by the University of Sheffield on Felix and his family has been immense. Yet his faith and trust in Jesus Christ is immovable.

Ahead of proceedings, Felix said: “I pray that the court will recognise the freedom to express my Christian faith. It is chilling that we live in a society where you can share your beliefs on social media and yet you find yourself in trouble when certain people disagree with you.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing Felix, said:

“Once again, the freedom to be a committed Christian while holding a professional role is under threat. From magistrates to nurses, teachers to doctors, Christian professionals are increasingly under pressure to hide away their beliefs – to hide away the light of Christ in them, depriving society of the love of Jesus. This is why we urgently ask you to pray for Felix and our team this week.”

Pray for justice

This week we have been encouraged by this passage from the Book of Acts as we prepare for Felix’s case:

His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:40 – 42)

Felix’s courage is an inspiration to us all, and we ask that on Tuesday, wherever you are, that will you stand with him by praying for justice in this case. With this in mind, please pray for:

  • Felix and his wife, Pepsy, that their courage and strength to keep going will inspire Christians across the country and demonstrate to non-Christians what the hope of the gospel means
  • For Paul Diamond, who will be representing Felix in court
  • That universities would uphold freedom of speech
  • For the judges presiding over the case
  • For Andrea Williams and the rest of our legal team as they support Felix and speak about the case
  • For a just result that would protect Christian freedoms
  • That through all of this, the truth of the gospel will be made known in society.

We would like to thank everyone who has already prayed for Felix or sent messages of support. Thanks to you, we were able to give Felix nearly 11,000 words of Christian encouragement this morning.

We will keep you updated as the story develops – could you share Felix’s story with others who could pray?