Tag Archives: Tony Brewer

The Conversion of Saul — Tony Brewer

During his ministry, Paul wrote that he became all things to all men so that he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22). We use Paul’s ministry as a pattern for our own ministry. Likewise, we must use Paul’s conversion as a pattern for our own conversions. By looking at Paul’s conversion, we will discuss two aspects of conversion. Additionally, we will notice the similarities between his conversion and our own.

The Damascene Road Experience

Multiple times in my life, I have heard that everyone needs to have a Damascene Road experience. This generally refers to an enlightening in one’s life. An enlightening experience is exactly what happened to Paul (named Saul at the time). He literally met the resurrected Jesus, and came to the realization that Jesus wanted him to have. Leading up to his Damascene Road experience, Paul had a purpose in his life. During his Damascene Road experience, Paul had a profound realization.

Paul’s Purpose. During the first great persecution of the church and after Stephen was stoned, Saul (a.k.a. Paul) “made havoc of the church, entering into every house and hailing men and women committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). So much was Paul convicted that his cause was just and right that he took his mission outside the walls of Jerusalem. He went to the high priest and obtained permission and credentials to travel 225 miles to Damascus from Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).

At this point in his life, Paul’s purpose did not demonstrate holiness in any way. He was well meaning, genuine, moral, but devastatingly wrong. Thus is the case with every person who does not obey the gospel of Jesus. Paul writes that those who do not know God and consequently have not obeyed the gospel of Jesus will have vengeance taken upon them with flaming fire (2 Thess. 1:8). Like Paul, many souls are in this predicament: not knowing they are headed to hell with a lofty purpose in their heart and a smile on their face. Like Paul, they need to come face to face with Jesus.

Paul’s Profound Realization. Could you imagine being enveloped in a bright light, then hearing a voice from the light, and knowing that the only way that this could be happening is that God Himself is talking to you? Paul experienced such an encounter (Acts 9:3). According to the inspired account, Paul was asked a question: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). The purpose of God’s question was to make Paul realize what he was doing and why he was doing it. Jesus knew why, and God never asks a question in order to obtain information. This question informed Paul that he was actually personally persecuting Jesus!

Every human being must come to an understanding of what their life of sin does to Jesus. Sin is the reason Jesus went to the cross in the first place (Rom. 5:1-21)! When we sin it is a personal affront to Jesus. Paul refers to those who have fallen away as crucifying afresh the Son of God and putting Him to open shame (Heb. 6:6). It would stand to reason that those who live in sin are doing the same thing. Many live with a seared and numb conscience through repetition of sin. Yet as we know more about Jesus and God’s Word, our consciences are pricked more and more.

When Paul came face to face with Jesus, he realized that he had been persecuting the Lord. Jesus made a declaration that speaks to every sinner from across the expanse of time: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). Let’s think of Paul’s credentials. He was a Hebrew’s Hebrew and a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). He studied at the feet of Gamaliel, being taught according to the perfect manner of the law (Acts 22:3). Paul had to have been putting the pieces of the puzzle together of his own. This Jesus was the Messiah. How long had Paul kicked against the pricks of his conscience?

Paul’s Damascene Road experience showed who and what he was: a sinner guilty of crucifying the Christ. Every sinner must have this kind of experience before conversion can ever take place. Now that Paul was enlightened, he realized that he must do something to rectify his situation (Acts 22:10).

Calling On The Name Of The Lord

Just because we have our own Damascene Road experience does not mean we are converted. Paul experienced divine blindness on the road to Damascus that caused him to focus on himself and the actions of his lie. We must have our own blindness of a sort that causes us to be introspective and take inventory of our actions and life as well. IF all we have is a Damascene Road experience then we, like Paul, are simply blind and ignorant as to what to do to rectify our current situation (Acts 22:10-11). Paul was totally dependent upon the provision of Jesus to be converted and saved. Jesus provided the way, but Paul had to take action via the proper response.

Jesus’ Provision. Jesus gave Paul instructions to go to Damascus on Strait Street where Paul would wait for a commissioned evangelist to inform him on how to obey the gospel call (Acts 22:10). Just like the evangelist Ananias was personally commissioned by Jesus, Christians today are commissioned by Jesus to find people who are needing to be converted and tell them what they must do (Matt. 28:18-20). Now that Paul received instruction it was up to him to do it.

Paul’s Response. Paul was told to do three things immediately: arise, be baptized, and wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). All three of these things are all included in the necessary act of calling on the name of the Lord. No person has ever been saved outside of calling on the name of the Lord. Paul did exactly what we must do today. Every sinner seeking salvation must get up and take action, submit to being baptized, and wash away his sins. Jesus has provided the way for us to do this. We, like Paul, must take advantage of this precious provision.

To be approved of God, our conversion must be the same as Paul’s. Paul had his Damascene Road experience and took advantage of the provision of Jesus. There is no way on earth to be converted to Jesus unless we follow in Paul’s footsteps. If we do what he did, we can have what he had: salvation.

Tony preaches at the Bay Church of Christ in Bay, AR.

Preaching’s Foundational Task and Intended Purpose — Tony Brewer

It has been said of preaching, “Preaching is that unique procedure by which God, through His chosen messenger, reaches down into the human family and brings a person face to face with Himself. Without such confrontation, it is not true preaching” (Koller 13). We must go to the Bible to remember the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose. Looking at the role of the watchman recorded in Ezekiel and Paul’s charge to Timothy, we will notice the design of preaching, the despair of preaching, and the desired result of preaching.

The Design of Preaching

When remembering the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose, we must first remember that preaching is designed to fulfill a purpose. The design of preaching can be seen in Ezekiel’s account of the watchman, and is then mirrored in Paul’s charge to Timothy. God informed Ezekiel in the long ago that He had appointed him to be a watchman unto the house of Israel (Ezek. 3:17). The watchman was to deliver the message from God to the children of Israel so the people could repent of sin and come back into a right relationship with God (Ezek. 3:17-21).

From the language used to inform Ezekiel of the watchman’s task, we know that there is a responsibility of the hearer to take action. We understand that the role of the watchman is to deliver the message from God to inform the hearer of his responsibility to either change or continue his heavenward course. The hearer of the Word of God has a responsibility to react to the Word of God. The New Testament wisdom writer corroborates the responsibility of the hearer (Jas. 1:23-25). The design of preaching is seen, not in the account of the watchman in Ezekiel, but also in Paul’s instruction to Timothy who was charged to preach (2 Tim. 4:1-4).

The role of the watchman mirrors perfectly the foundational task of preaching with which young Timothy, and every Christian, was charged in the New Testament. All Christians are instructed to preach in that we all have an obligation to the Great Commission, and we are commanded to restore those who are overtaken in a fault (Matt. 28:18-20; Gal. 6:1). More specifically, Paul instructed Timothy, a preacher, to commit that which he had heard of Paul to faithful men who would be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). Later in that same letter, Paul brings Timothy into the very presence of God and charges him to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). As we can see from the Old Testament example of the watchman in Ezekiel and in the New Testament example of Paul’s charge to Timothy, the design of preaching is to strengthen the resolve to continue a heavenward course (exhort), to warn the people of their sinful state (reprove), and to encourage change for the better (rebuke), which leads us to the despair of preaching.

The Despair of Preaching

Looking further into the role of the watchman, we learn that the hearers of the message may go into a state of despair. Later in the book of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel to explain the role of the watchman to the children of Israel (Ezek. 33:1-9). Although the reason behind the information being conveyed to the children of Israel is conjecture, we may surmise that knowing the role of the watchman may alleviate some burden for the watchman, as well as for those who hear the message from the watchman. Assuredly, the hearers were in a deep state of despair and could not fathom how they could live up to the standard that God was setting through His message. They were being convicted of sin and, instead of repenting and turning to God, they were pining away in their sins (v. 10). Also, the children of Israel were asking a question that is only asked from a place of extreme hopelessness and despair: “How should we then live?” (v. 10b). If the watchman brings his audience to this despairing state of mind with no offer of hope, then he has failed in the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose because he has not considered God’s desired result of the hearing of the message. He has brought people low and made them aware of their sinful condition and has left them hopeless. Thankfully, God hears the despairing remarks by the hearers and answers them with mercy and grace. God replies, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (v. 11).

When we preach today, many in the audience are in this same mindset. As mentioned, preachers are to reprove, rebuke, and exhort (2 Tim. 4:2). When brought face to face with the sin that is in our lives through preaching, we may be so overwhelmed that we ask the same question asked by the children of Israel in the long ago, “How should we then live?” The mindset behind this question is fundamentally one of despair. I can not do what God wants me to do, God wants too much from me, and God is set against me are all accusations against God from a mindset of despair. However, if a preacher remembers the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose, then the preaching will, in fact, produce God’s desired result.

The Desired Result of Preaching

God revealed His desired result of the watchman’s preaching to Israel. God instructed the watchman to “say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11)

It is like this with the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose. When preaching brings a person to the pit of despair and they cannot fathom how they can live with the censures and mandates God has placed upon them, the preacher’s role is to remind them of God’s desired result of the preaching. Through the watchman, God is reassuring the hearer of the message that He does not want the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11). He further charges the wicked to change and live by responding “Why will ye die?”, implying they have the ability to change.
From the time preaching of the cross began until now, man has been plunged into pit of despair saying, “How can we live?” God has answered back from across the expanse of time to ask, “Why do you die?” God has sent His Son so that we might have life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10). “How should we live?” God has sent His Son, grace personified, to teach us how to live and it is the preaching of the cross which conveys that message (Tit. 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 1:21).

Conclusion

The foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose is detailed by Ezekiel’s watchman and again by Paul’s charge to Timothy. God designed preaching to be the foundational task for informing His children of their spiritual condition with the understanding that His desire would be communicated through the despair that comes from being convinced of being in a sinful state. Consequently, the desired result is the restoration of the convicted soul. Preaching either bolsters the righteous and strengthens them in their resolve to keep on the right path, or it convicts the wicked while showing them the love of God and the way back into His good favor. Now the we have remembered the foundational task of preaching and its intended purpose, let us be watchmen and go forward with Paul’s charge to Timothy to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Tony is the gospel preacher for the Bay Church of Christ in Bay, AR. He is a 2015 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching. He also does extensive social media evangelism and Bible teaching.

Living In Spirit And Truth In A Social Media World — Tony Brewer

Worshiping in spirit and in truth simply means worshiping with the proper attitude and doing the right things (John 4:24). If worship is to be done in spirit and truth then the service we offer by our lives is to be done in spirit and truth as well (Rom. 12:1). Living in spirit and truth has always been complicated but in the last two decades we have introduced social media and made it even more complicated.

The platform of social media changes from time to time. Myspace gives way and makes room for Facebook. Snapchat fell out of favor with the masses. Instagram rose in prominence. YouTube is holding on and revamping to be more conducive to social interaction between its subscribers. It does not matter which platform is popular or which platform you use, you must maintain a life of service to God in spirit and truth. How is that done? To answer that question we will notice the main misconception about social media, the main problem with social media, and the solution to the problem.

The Main Misconceptions About Social Media

What we do in this plane of existence lasts in eternity. According to the voice from heaven, the labor of the dead who die in the Lord follow them (Rev. 14:13). In like manner, our evil deeds will follow us if we die outside the Lord (Rom. 2:6). Thus it is with social media.

Sadly, many refer to their face to face interaction with this world as the “real world” and social media as “not the real world.” The concept that social media does not affect our existence in this world and the next is absurd.

A cursory search of the internet turns up cyberbullyhotline.com, which list statistics concerning the pandemic problem of bullying online. Cyberbullyhotline.com lists, “42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year,” “of the 69% of teens that own their own computer or smart phone, 80% are active on social media, and “20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.” Am I saying that Christians on social media are bullying people to the point of suicide? No, I am not. However, these statistics are indicative of a powerful tool that can not be relegated to the realm of “not the real world.”

What we do on social media affects us, period. It does not happen without consequences. If we can understand that social media is simply media, and there is no difference between social media and the real world, then we will be much better equipped to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.

The Main Problem With Social Media

In my personal ministry I am heavily involved with social media as a gospel preacher. I am part of a group of men who work together to spread the gospel on Facebook. From personal experience, the negative things Christians do on social media have less to do with living a wicked life in their face to face interactions and more to do with how they conduct themselves fulfilling their obligations to the Great Commission.

There have been more atrocities committed in the name of contending for the faith on social media than I would care to try and list. I know we are told to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Are we to contend to the point of casting the very life of a Christian in a negative light? If you will allow me to appropriate the words of Paul, God forbid!

A principle comes to mind from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. These Christians were trying to live in spirit and truth in the socioeconomic climate of the first century. Sadly, they were taking fellow Christians to court and suing them (1 Cor. 6:6). Paul spoke of this as being a shame to them (1 Cor. 6:5). He said that the solution to this is to just take the wrong (1 Cor. 6:7). Notice that Paul equated the wrong of going to court in front of unbelievers to the wrong that the offending brother committed in the first place (1 Cor. 6:8). This principle is applicable to Christians living their lives in spirit and truth in a social media world. Christian, take the wrong!

Being offended is the new “it” thing to be. If we look in the right places we will find offensive things on social media. If we look hard enough and diligently enough, we will find Christians who disagree with us on matters of judgment and on matters of salvation. It seems that some Christians on social media take it upon themselves to reprove all the unfruitful works of darkness in existence (Eph. 5:11). I know that reproving the unfruitful works of darkness is a commandment that is in the Bible and that it is applicable to Christians even in a social media world. Yet, there are unbelievers who see everything we do on social media. When we publicly mark someone as a heretic, in principle we are going to law before the unbelievers. Christians have not been living and interacting with social media long enough to understand the ramifications of hauling a alleged heretic before a social media tribunal and denouncing him as hell bound. We are not called to be spiritual policemen. Contrariwise Paul asked whether we should rather take the wrong or at least deal with the alleged heretic privately. When we publicly mark alleged false teachers on social media we are sacrificing our effectiveness to reach others with the gospel upon the altar of being right. Friends, that might be in truth, but it is certainly not in spirit.

If we want to live and serve in spirit and truth on social media, we must cast our Christianity in the best possible light. As Christians we must not wallow in the mud with those who would tarnish the very name of Christ which we wear. Publicly airing our grievances, whether justified or not, is the main problem otherwise faithful Christians face while trying to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.

Now, if you are like me you have fallen short from time to time. Do not lose heart. Simply resolve to be more Christ-like in your approach to evangelism on social media (Phil. 2:1-11). Now, let us look at some Scripture in order to understand how to solve the problem of social media.

The Solution To The Problem

The solution to the problem facing the Christian living life in spirit and truth in a social media world is simple. Do less contending for the faith and more evangelism. The microcosm of social media is not the place to contend for the faith by policing brethren. We have to shine light on error, we have to preach truth which convicts, and we must preach the whole counsel of God. However, we can not do this by imposing our opinions of the way things ought to be on others (Acts 20:27; Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2).

How can we solve the problem of social media? It is simple. Lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and work as we are commanded by God (1 Thess. 4:11). If we can accomplish these three things, then we will lack nothing, and we will be known to walk honestly to those who are unbelievers (1 Thess. 4:12).

Keeping the commandments given to us by God will help to solve the problem with social media. If we are busy doing the Lord’s evangelistic work, then we will not have time to haul others before a social media tribunal. Again, we are not called to be spiritual policemen.

If we believe the best in our brethren and do not jump to conclusions, we will not be offended so quickly (1 Cor. 13:7). In so doing, we will be able to show the love of Jesus to the world by showing a love for the brethren (John 13:34-35). By showing love toward our brethren, we can show the world that it is desirous to be a Christian. Then perhaps those that see us will be drawn to study with us and consequently be drawn to Jesus (John 6:44-45).

Conclusion

Living in spirit and in truth in a social media world can be daunting. It is fraught with danger. Social media is a difficult place to live and keep the proper attitude along with doing what is right. If Christians can understand that what happens on social media is real, if Christians can be aware of the main problem of social media, and if Christians will solve their problem, then they will have no difficulty living in spirit and truth in this social media world.

Tony is the gospel preacher for the Bay Church of Christ in Bay, AR. He is a 2015 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching. He also does extensive social media evangelism and Bible teaching.