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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, July 14, 2018

Last Saturday night we saw the film, “Paul, Apostle of Christ.” It showed how the early Christians suffered under the persecution of the Emperor Nero. The movie showed Paul in prison, right up to the time he was executed. The film also showed how Paul used to persecute the Christians himself. What happened to him?

Paul was a Jewish man. He was also a Roman citizen. His Jewish name was Saul. His Roman name was Paul. Both names mean the same person – who became the Apostle Paul. When he was a young man, he attacked the Christians. He was glad to see Stephen killed. He threw Christians into prison. He was an enemy of Christ. Please turn to Acts, chapter 9, verse 1. It’s on page 1160 in the Scofield Study Bible. Listen as I read it.

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).

On the road to Damascus, the resurrected Christ spoke to Saul. Listen as I read verses three through five.

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:3-5).

Some people think Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. But he wasn’t. Yes, he knew that Jesus was Lord. He knew he had sinned by persecuting the Christians. But he was not converted until three days later when his scales of spiritual blindness fell away. The great commentator Matthew Henry said,

We have reason to think he was all this time...suffering God's terrors for his sins, which were now set in order before him (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, p. 91).

If Paul wasn’t converted yet, what did happen to him on the road to Damascus? He was awakened to his sin. And he became a disciple of Christ. Listen to verse six as I read it.

“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6).

That’s when Paul became a disciple! He said to Christ, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). “What does Christ want me to do?” When Paul said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” he became a disciple. That is discipleship! In the last few weeks you’ve heard sermons on discipleship. “Discipleship” is a fine word, but what does it mean? A disciple is a person who says as Paul did, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” – and then does it! That’s a disciple!

Did Paul promise to be a missionary and start churches all over the Roman world? Did Paul say he would write half the books of the New Testament? Did Paul know he would die as a martyr for Christ? He did those things – but later. Did he know all that on the road to Damascus? No, he did not! He didn’t know he would be a chosen vessel, to preach Christ before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). He didn’t know how much he would suffer for Jesus’ sake (Acts 9:16). He didn’t know much at all.

What did Paul know? What did he do? All he knew was that Christ “said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). Jesus told him to go into the city of Damascus and there he would be told what to do. Paul didn’t know what would happen to him there. He didn’t know what he would be told to do. But to Damascus he went. All Paul knew was to go to the city. And he did it. He was told to do something, and he did it. That’s discipleship!

Yes, Paul was a disciple. He was a disciple before he was converted, just like Peter and the other ten Disciples who followed Jesus for three years and were finally born again when they trusted the resurrected Christ. You, too, can become a disciple before you are converted. Like Paul, you can ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Discipleship begins with small things. Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Christ told Paul to go into the city. Paul did it. That’s discipleship. You say, “That doesn’t sound like much.” But if Paul hadn’t gone into the city, he wouldn’t have been saved! Discipleship isn’t some mysterious idea with fancy words, floating high up in the air. Discipleship is doing things. Discipleship begins with small things. Discipleship is doing practical, specific things like going into a city. That’s discipleship. Why not become a disciple yourself?

Dr. Hymers wasn’t always a pastor. He was a disciple first. When he was thirteen years old, he went to church when his neighbors invited him. He kept on going to church. That is a simple, practical thing to do. Dr. Hymers was a disciple before he was converted. Later, at the Chinese church, he cleaned the pews every Saturday night. He did many other jobs there. He did everything he could do. He did every job he could find in that church. Dr. Hymers was a disciple.

My son John Cagan was ordained to the ministry in April. He’ll preach here tomorrow morning. We call him “Pastor John.” He is an assistant to Dr. Hymers, who is the founder and pastor of our church. But he wasn’t always “Pastor John.” I can remember when he was fifteen years old. John was a disciple. He served the food in church at lunch and dinner every Sunday. He cleaned up the church late Sunday evening. He stayed until we locked up the building late at night. John was a disciple. He was in charge of our video ministry, just as Bernabe Mencia is now, just as Minh Vu was before Bernabe. John, Bernabe and Minh Vu are disciples. That’s discipleship! As a nine-year-old child, John saved the allowance money I gave him, and he bought himself a Scofield Bible – years before he was converted. That’s discipleship. You say, “I thought discipleship is only for big, high, spiritual things like being a missionary, or dying in prison.” No, discipleship is simple, small, specific things. Discipleship is saving your money and buying a Scofield Bible. That’s discipleship!

Discipleship isn’t a bunch of fancy words. Discipleship is doing things – practical, specific things like buying a Bible and reading it every day. Discipleship means coming to church. Discipleship means listening to the sermons in church and reading the manuscripts at home. Those are simple, practical things that anyone can do, even if you’re not converted yet. That is discipleship.

Discipleship means that you do what you say. There are lots of people in Los Angeles who say things and don’t do them. People borrow money. They say, “I’ll pay you back,” but they don’t do it. That’s not being a disciple. I hope you’re not like them. A disciple does what he says he is going to do.

Last Sunday night Pastor John preached a powerful sermon, “Pressing Toward the Mark of Discipleship!” Some of you thought, “He’s not talking to me. He’s only talking to the people that have been coming to church for a long time. That’s not me. I don’t have to think about doing those things.” But listen! The message is for all of you – even if you’ve been coming for a few weeks or months. The message is for you, too. Listen to what we say – and think about it.

Discipleship begins with simple, small things. Think about taking the sermon manuscripts home and reading them. That’s simple. That’s something anyone can do, even if you haven’t trusted Jesus yet. Think about buying a Scofield Bible. Think about reading it every day. That’s simple. Anyone can do it. Think about coming to church every Saturday evening.

I want to give you time to think about it. Just think about it. Think it over when you’re at home. Think it over when you’re alone. Think about what you heard. May God bless you.

Please stand and sing hymn number 1, “I’ll Live For Him.”

My life, my love I give to Thee, Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
   O may I ever faithful be, My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me, How satisfied my life shall be!
   I’ll live for Him who died for me, My Saviour and my God!

O Thou who died on Calvary, To save my soul and make me free,
   I’ll consecrate my life to Thee, My Saviour and my God!
I’ll live for Him who died for me, How satisfied my life shall be!
   I’ll live for Him who died for me, My Saviour and my God!
(“I’ll Live For Him” by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901; altered by the Pastor).

WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
         “I’ll Live for Him” (by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901; altered by the Pastor).