1. THE NEW CONVERT
a. What was Paul inspired to do immediately after his conversion? Acts 9:20. Describe the response. Acts 9:21–24.
b. What soon became necessary in order to protect Paul’s life? Acts 9:25.
c. Explain the important experience that served to fortify Paul’s faith and establish on solid ground his calling from God. Galatians 1:15–17.
“[Paul] went into Arabia; and there, in comparative solitude, he had ample opportunity for communion with God and for contemplation. He wished to be alone with God, to search his own heart, to deepen his repentance, and to prepare himself by prayer and study to engage in a work which appeared to him too great and too important for him to undertake. He was an apostle, not chosen of men, but chosen of God, and his work was plainly stated to be among the Gentiles.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 33, 34.
2. CULTIVATING THE FIRST LOVE
a. What characterized Paul’s time in Arabia—and whom else does his experience bring to mind? Psalm 139:23, 24; Exodus 2:15; 3:1.
“In the military schools of Egypt, Moses was taught the law of force, and so strong a hold did this teaching have upon his character that it required forty years of quiet and communion with God and nature to fit him for the leadership of Israel by the law of love. The same lesson Paul had to learn.”—Education, p. 65.
“While in Arabia [Paul] did not communicate with the apostles; he sought God earnestly with all his heart, determining not to rest till he knew for a certainty that his repentance was accepted and his great sin pardoned. He would not give up the conflict until he had the assurance that Jesus would be with him in his coming ministry. He was ever to carry about with him in the body the marks of Christ’s glory, in his eyes, which had been blinded by the heavenly light, and he desired also to bear with him constantly the assurance of Christ’s sustaining grace. Paul came in close connection with Heaven, and Jesus communed with him and established him in his faith, bestowing upon him His wisdom and grace.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 34.
b. Why does God often use wilderness experiences in solitude to prepare leaders to enter into a mighty work for Him? Job 37:14; Psalm 46:10.
c. Despite Paul’s high hopes, what startling disappointment was he to face when he finally had the chance to meet the leading brethren at Jerusalem? Acts 9:26; Galatians 1:18, 19. What made Paul’s experience so unique?
“Peter, James, and John felt confident that God had appointed them to preach Christ among their own countrymen at home. But Paul had received his commission from God, while praying in the temple, and his broad missionary field had been distinctly presented before him. To prepare him for his extensive and important work, God had brought him into close connection with Himself and had opened before his enraptured vision a glimpse of the beauty and glory of Heaven.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 41, 42.
3. LEAVING ALL PREJUDICE BEHIND
a. Who paved the way for Paul’s acceptance among the apostles, and why did this visit to Jerusalem have to be cut short? Acts 9:27–29; 22:17, 18. What helped the believers eventually to endorse Paul’s ministry to the despised Gentiles? Acts 8:26, 27, 38; 10:34, 35, 44–47.
b. What logic did Paul use in prayer regarding what he felt was his calling—and what was the response? Acts 22:19–21. How was the church blessed by echoing God’s verdict? Acts 9:30, 31.
c. What timeless principle did Paul declare later for the benefit of all believers to the close of time—and how is this principle a warning to us? Galatians 3:28, 29; Colossians 3:11.
“God has chosen man to do a certain work. His mental capacities may be weak, but then the evidence is more apparent that God works. His speech may not be eloquent, but that is no evidence that he has not a message from God. His knowledge may be limited, but in many cases God can work with His wisdom through such an agent, and the power be seen of God, more than through one possessing natural and acquired abilities and who knows it and has confidence in himself, in his judgment, in his knowledge, in his manner of address.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 244.
“Prejudice is a terrible thing in the sight of God. It was prejudice that crucified the world’s Redeemer. Let us as a people put away all prejudice; for it blinds the mind and makes men incapable of doing justice to those they imagine blameworthy. It will cause men to sit in judgment upon brethren whose inmost souls they cannot read and, if they could, would not understand. Instead of creating discords, of judging others, we need to bind the members of our churches together by the cords of strong brotherly love in heavenly union. If a brother is halting, it is a great sin to set his case before the brethren in a discouraging light and set others on his track, that they may discover his many frailties. This is a satanic proceeding and altogether out of harmony with the Spirit of Christ.”—The Review and Herald, October 24, 1893.
4. THE VINEYARD EXPANDS . . .
a. What was Paul to say of his early work for Christ? Galatians 1:20–24.
b. Meanwhile, what was taking place in cities north of Judea, even in Cyprus (an island in the Mediterranean)—and why? Acts 11:19–21. What need soon became evident? Acts 11:22–24.
c. Whom did Barnabas seek as a coworker, and within a year, what noteworthy impact did their joint labors carry? Acts 11:25, 26. How is this to be an inspiration to each one of us? John 15:16.
“Jesus is calling for many missionaries, for men and women who will consecrate themselves to God, willing to spend and be spent in His service. Oh, can we not remember that here is a world to labor for? Shall we not move forward step by step, letting God use us as His helping hand? Shall we not place ourselves on the altar of service? Then the love of Christ will touch and transform us, making us willing for His sake to do and dare.”—The Review and Herald, January 27, 1903.
“At the eleventh hour the Lord will call into His service many faithful workers. Self-sacrificing men and women will step into the places made vacant by apostasy and death. To young men and young women, as well as to those who are older, God will give power from above. With converted minds, converted hands, converted feet, and converted tongues, their lips touched with a living coal from the divine altar, they will go forth into the Master’s service, moving steadily onward and upward, carrying the work forward to completion.”—The Youth’s Instructor, February 13, 1902.
“When the churches see young men possessing zeal to qualify themselves to extend their labors to cities, villages, and towns that have never been aroused to the truth, and missionaries volunteering to go to other nations to carry the truth to them, the churches will be encouraged and strengthened far more than to themselves receive the labors of inexperienced young men.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 204.
5. THE CALL PUBLICLY RECOGNIZED
a. What did God communicate to the prophets and teachers in the local church at Antioch? Acts 13:1, 2. What reveals that a church can only take such a step in the fear of God, with prayer and fasting? Acts 13:3.
“Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles [Barnabas and Saul] were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority. . . .
“Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 161, 162.
b. How did Paul consider this solemn appointment? Romans 1:1.
“Paul regarded the occasion of his formal ordination as marking the beginning of a new and important epoch in his lifework. It was from this time that he afterward dated the beginning of his apostleship in the Christian church.”—Ibid., pp.164, 165.
c. What are some key points to realize about the sacred calling of a formal ordination to ecclesiastical service? 1 Timothy 5:22; Isaiah 52:11 (last part).
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did God send Paul to Arabia?
2. How could we be in danger of treating others as the apostles did Paul?
3. What prejudices of mine could be hindering God’s work?
4. Describe the soon-coming scene to be revealed at the eleventh hour.
5. What solemn duty do all church members have whenever a name is proposed for formal ordination, whether it be for deacon, elder, or minister?