Life-Change Mission

INTRODUCTION: In the book of Acts, there is parallelism between the ministries of Peter and Paul. The first half of Acts primarily chronicles the work of the Holy Spirit in growing the church through Peter, while the second half of Acts follows Paul’s ministry. Today, as we are reaching a critical point where the text moves from a focus on the ministry of Peter to the ministry of Paul, we will compare events in the ministries of these two great apostles.


We live in a world that puts its faith in observed scientific conclusions. When our life experience contradicts those observed conclusions, we are challenged to refuse or accept a new reality. Christopher Columbus took on the accepted conclusion that the world was flat, standing against great political and religious resistance. When he risked his life to prove the world was round, he brought this unseen reality to the world.

In the same way, people make conclusions about us based on their observations of us. When our actions suddenly contradict our track record, it may cause a crisis for those closest to us, one that puts their beliefs about life in question, simply because they know us and see a changed life.

  • Does your story, or someone’s close to you, have a clear 180-degree about-face that came with one life-changing event? How did this impact those closest to you or those closest to this person?

READ THE WORD: ACTS 9:1-19, 32-35 (ESV)

Acts 9:1-19:

9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Acts 9:32-35:

 32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What obvious contrasts are visible between Paul’s motive for going to Damascus (vss. 1-2) and Peter’s motive for going to the region of Sharon and Lydda (vs. 32)?
  2. What contrasts are visible between the results of Paul’s encounter with the power of Jesus and Aeneas’ encounter with the power of Jesus? What do the results of their encounters with Jesus have in common?
  3. What possible connections in the passage, if any, exist between the timing of Paul’s conversion and presence in Jerusalem, and the timing of Peter’s journey through neighboring Lydda and Sharon?
  4. What was required of Paul and Aeneas to experience healing? Who healed both Paul (vs. 17) and Aeneas (vs. 34)?
  5. What things can you point to as examples that Jesus has made a dramatic change in your life? What are the ongoing consequences of those changes? How are you sharing what God has done in your life with others?


God chose a family of believers, the Church, as the vehicle to usher in his life-changing presence to the world. Paul’s conversion ushered in a time of peace for the Church in the areas closest to Jerusalem that allowed the church to grow. That made it easier for Peter to minister to believers throughout that region. Like Jesus, Peter cared for the visible needs in people’s lives, but physical healing was not the end goal. Experiencing the life-changing presence of Jesus is the goal of our care for others.

  • Ask God to give you opportunities to live and tell your “life he changed” story in ways that draw others to Jesus.