05: Obedience: The Fruit of Revival – Thought Starters

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV).

Image © Pavao Leskovar from GoodSalt.com

Image © Pavao Leskovar from GoodSalt.com

[Thought questions for Obedience: The Fruit of Revival July 31, 2013]

1. Key text. Consider the words in the key text, above, for this week: “weapons,” “warfare,” “casting down,” “captivity,” “obedience.” Why did God impress these strong words on Paul as he addressed the spiritual needs of the Corinthians? Suppose you were to receive a personal letter from the president of your local conference or mission. Would you expect a message like this? How might you respond if you did?

2. Revival in Wales. What was the single most powerful influence in establishing a strong Christian presence in Wales in 1904? Do you think the Holy Spirit is under-employed in most of our churches? Is He ready and willing and able to take a lead role in our work as church members? Is it always easy for truly converted people to obey God?

3. Transformed life. Have you noticed a strong entertainment element in some of the messages preached by popular evangelists today? Why do so many members of the public turn from a pastor who calls on listeners to repent, stop sinning, and obey God? Are you so transformed by God’s spirit that you welcome every call to obey Him? Or would you prefer for the “o” word to be deleted or at least minimized in our message? Do preachers and teachers ever over-emphasize the “captivity” of “obedience”? Is it possible to be “too obedient”?

4. High cost of obedience. Why was Stephen stoned to death? What line did he cross that made him unacceptable to the religious leaders of his day? Are you apprehensive about calling on leaders to give heed to the Word of God? Could you ever be bold like Stephen and call sin by its right name? Or is this the right time to be encouraging martyrdom? How can we know when we should be more forthright and when we should be less strident in our proclamation of God’s Word?

5. The Spirit surprises. How sure was Saul that he was doing the right thing in persecuting early Christians? How much support did he have? Why did God take such a dramatic step as Saul traveled on the Damascus Road? Wasn’t that a huge risk to take? Why didn’t Paul, as he was then named, continue his ministry on his own? What did he do instead? Is there a lesson there for us? What might that be?

6. Being sensitive to the Spirit’s call. Did the Holy Spirit speak with equal power to both Paul and King Agrippa? Or did He reserve the might of His message for the apostle who would lead the believers in establishing a worldwide movement? Have you ever heard someone say something like “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian?” Instead, what comments might people make when they are impressed by our witness but turn away from full commitment?

7. Spirit-led obedience. How do we reconcile God’s highest priority for our freedom with what seems to be an equally high priority on our obedience? Can the love of freedom be transposed into the joy of obedience? When in life is obedience of any kind most difficult? How is obedience to God and His will for us totally different from obedience to fellow man? Or is it?



05: Obedience: The Fruit of Revival – Thought Starters — 12 Comments

  1. Joyce, I think the questions you provide for discussion are both interesting and provocative. Some of the most interesting questions to me are the ones dealing with Paul's "conversion" on the road to Damascus.

    You ask, "Why did God take such a dramatic step as Saul traveled on the Damascus Road" and "Did the Holy Spirit speak with equal power to both Paul and King Agrippa?" I have thought about this and as I review the testimony given to Paul through Stephen (and probably others) and compare it with Paul's testimony to King Agrippa I find little difference in the force of the message or the presence of the Holy Spirit. From what I see Paul did the same thing as the king did when it came to human witnessing so your question, "Why did God take such a dramatic step as Saul traveled on the Damascus Road?" becomes interesting and important. Was it the only way God could turn Paul around? Why didn't He do the same for many other people that rejected human witness as Paul did or does He do so in other ways such as He did with Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4)?

    Another interesting question to me is exactly how far will God go to reach a person in rebellion when considering such texts as Isa 5:4; 2 Chron 36:15-16; Jer 7:25-26; Matt 23:37? Should we write off a person because they reject our witness?

    • A thoughtful response. I trust you'll be able to discuss this further in your Sabbath school class or with a willing member. I think about Paul's conversion a lot. He must have had qualities that God identified for development. King Agrippa may have had the same qualities. The difference is that Saul responded to the Holy Spirit as if to say, "Lord, Lord. I want you to rule in my life." What a pity when we agree with King Agrippa by saying, "Lord, Lord. I'm drawn to you. I'd like to follow you. I really would. But you know my position, and it's just not going to work out with my career. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is. By the way, Lord, save me from the second death, okay?"

  2. You ask, "Why didn’t Paul, as he was then named, continue his ministry on his own? What did he do instead?" Maybe he was too scared to do otherwise. The question I ask myself is, was the Damascus road experience Paul's real conversion or was it only a change in his understanding of Jesus on a theological/political basis which altered his relationship to His followers where his real conversion came later? After all, all the disciples thought that Jesus was the Messiah before the cross but were they really converted at that point?

  3. Allow me to tackle your interesting question of “why did God take such a dramatic step as Saul traveled on the Damascus Road?” I have asked myself that question last week. Why did God even recruit (call) a murderer of His saints to His ministry? I don’t care how ignorant Saul was, the very fact that God took “such a dramatic step” to reach out to him is mind-boggling. I’m not entertaining the idea that Saul is somehow exceptional, a unique human being. If Saul (Paul) had refused the call, conversion, God would have raised or called another saint who is equally talented, devoted and influential (if not, even more than Paul.)

    So why? Here is the answer (I may be wrong:) Someone was praying for Saul. It could be his sister; it could be one of the saints he was chasing from one area code to another; we don’t know. But someone somehow saw the potential of this man and cried to God day and night for his conversion and call to ministry. From the way Jesus answered this prayer, I wouldn’t be surprised if this person (s) did more than just praying; they must have been fasting and praying, pleading with God on his behalf. I can’t wait to get to Heaven, and join Stephen and other saints Saul had killed, and watch the real-life video of his conversion in HD. In the final analysis, Paul’s conversion signifies how anyone is incapable of out-sinning the grace of God which is found in Jesus Christ. We worship an awesome God.

    • [Edited]

      I dont think praying was an issue in Pauls case.
      I think the Bible gives the answer that Paul was there when Stephen was stoned.
      Bold testimony from Stephen was seed for Paul. Why did the Bible give that information of Paul standing and watching Stephens death.. Paul was not rejected witnessing from Stephen. Seed need time, and the same Jesus who Stephen saw siting on Heavenly place, come down to Paul on the Road.
      Question for me is Why Paul have his private?
      As I understund Jesus went to Heaven and promised to Come again. We are Adventist and looking for His return. But, Paul had Jesus come to him private!
      Jesus did not touch ground with His feet but did come to Earth close to Paul on horse. So, Jesus did return on Earth but not walk on it again.
      The same we claim will be His Return. He will gather saints standing in sky not walking on ground. False Christ - Satan will before that walk on ground and preach in favorite toward Sunday law.
      So because of that exclusivenes Paul lived trought special experience. Bible is clear that was Jesus not an angel.
      So what you say abouth that?
      Difference betwen those two Advents is maybe in significance and manner of it. We are hoping for Jesus to come and bring a new World, and Old will pass. He will bring a Judegement. He will bring a resurection and new bodies.
      In Pauls case He just confront Him. Old world remains.
      But still it is interestiing personal activity of Jesus in Great Conflict.

      • Goran, I think Stephen's witness was seed indeed but seed needs certain conditions for it to germinate. What I do know from Scripture is that, "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3 NKJV; see also Acts 9:1,2). To me that doesn't sound like Paul accepted Stephen's witness at all so I think what Stephen said remained dormant until sometime after the Damascus road experience when the Holy Spirit could bring it back to memory and connect it to other bits and pieces of information.

        It seems to me that many people have to have an accumulated number of testimonies before they are able to finally fit the pieces of the puzzle together and really make sense out of the whole thing. I think that is what Paul was doing after the Damascus road event when, "he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank" (Acts 9:9 NKJV) and probably for some time after.

        As for the call that Newton mentioned I don't think that is what happened on the road but came after when God would, "show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16 NKJV). To me when Paul accepted that he accepted the call. What I believe happened on the road was calculated to arrest Paul in his endeavor to destroy the church and to get him to think about Jesus as the Messiah. Such a concept was a total upheaval to Paul's complete understanding. The same thing happens when people, who have devoutly worshiped and believed in Sunday all their lives, realize that Sunday is not really the Lord's Day - for most it is traumatic.

        • Tyler, not sure I agree with the last paragraph in which you implied Jesus is stopping Saul from persecuting saints. I mean, God could have killed Saul like He killed King Herod if protection of the saint was in His mind.

          So why the dramatic appearance to Saul? I stand by my original statement. Someone was praying for Saul. As Alfred Tennyson said, "more things were wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." We shouldn't underestimate the power of prayer.

          True story/testimony: my friend fasted for two days for an unbeliever relative of his to go to church with him. Within days he received a call from the relative asking about going to church. This is mind-blowing as no further initiative was made by my friend other than just praying and fasting. Let's not forget: "more things were wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."

    • Newton, of course it is only my opinion but I do think Paul had a certain set of gifts, talents, and character that were needed during the time of the very early church. Besides, most theologians feel that Paul was perhaps the best educated person in the early stages of the church and had a theological understanding that was generally way ahead of the church at that time. In fact, even after 2000 years some of Paul's teachings quite often give Bible students in this post modern age a lot of trouble.

      I also think that God chooses his apostles and prophets from the top down. I believe that He calls the most talented and consecrated first but if they refuse then the second in line is called and so on. This seems to be the general case, for instance, Israel as a nation was given the Gospel commission first because they had the most knowledge but they rejected it so the Gospel commission went to a relatively few uneducated faithful Jews and to the Gentiles. The same could be said of the leaders of the reformation. In Ellen White's case there were several other people that had much more talent that she had that received the prophetic call first but they refused so it went to a woman with a third grade education. So I really do believe it is a mistake to think that education and other talents are always a hindrance. There are a number of very good examples in the Bible were men of means and talent were chosen for specific functions within the kingdom of God and made an impressive success of it.

      • Well, God works from the bottom up also. I mean, take a look at Jesus and how he recruited students who were low profile, fishermen. Also the story of David is worth remembering. Yes, God reaches out to the top but that's the exception, not the rule. The reason is because God has a hard time penetrating their atmosphere which is made of nothing but pride. Take a look at Moses also. God never reached out to him when he was a high-profile prince, living in a palace.

    • [Please include your full name when posting to SSNET as stated in Comment Guidelines. Thank you.]

      Maybe the reason God took such a dramatic step with Paul is that was what was required. The Bible says that God looks on the heart and so he knew the He could use Paul in His service. Paul was functioning under another agenda (with what we might say was another master unaware of God's reality)and when he was made aware of where he was compared to where he thought he was in his walk with God (works vs. faith) Paul was willing to be used by God. Just a thought. . .

    • I believe God used Paul to show how amazing & powerful He is. He used Paul as an example of how a hardened life can be changed by the power of God. This gives us great hope for those we may know who appear to be lost causes. It also gives us a powerful example of how Paul's life changed when he received the Holy Spirit.

  4. What a power filled memory verse. God is forever in control. Take my life and let it be always only all for the. This lesson is of great significance. When others cannot see our full potential because of our sin filled past. He looks beyond our faults and meet our needs. Thank you wonderful merciful saviour.


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