Its Hard To Kick Against The Pricks

Its Hard To Kick Against The Pricks

It Is Hard For Thee to Kick Against The Pricks

Acts 9:1–9 

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. 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. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lordsaid unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Here before us is the dramatic account of the conversion of Paul the Apostle. 

No less than thirteen of the letters found in the Bible are penned in his name, he became the greatest evangelist in history, the greatest planter of Churches in history and he became also one of the single most tried Christians of history. His sufferings for his faith are presented in the Bible, and his end was at the hand of an Emperor of Rome. 

Paul died proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. His preaching of the eternal hope for all of mankind cost him his life, because the truth pricks the hearts of man and always has a response.

He was known while alive as one who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). And the Jews despised him. On no less than five occasions they conspired to put him to death, even stoning him and dragging what they thought was his dead body out of the city.

Paul himself testifying to the truth of it;

2 Corinthians 11:22–28 

22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 

But our passage this morning begins with a very different man. A man breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord

Paul’s violence against Christians was known by reputation. 

Ananias was specifically called on by the Lord there in verse 11 and 12 to heal him with the response, 

“… Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”

Acts 9:13–14

The Damascus Road:

 How many have used this expression in history to speak of a complete turning about of heart and mind?

How many have had their own version of a “Damascus road about face” which matters?

And notice that never is that expression used over small things, no one had claimed a Damascus road experience having changed from Chocolate Ice-cream to Vanilla….no, it is always on matters very important.

Not many use that expression today, so far removed are we from a Biblically influenced civilisation.

TODAY we have a number of individuals who have had their own Damascus Road not dissimilar to that of Saul of Tarsus in matters eternal. 

No doubt none where struck down by a beaming light with Jesus speaking in the midst, but all have certainly “seen the light”(….this is also where THAT expression originated).

None have testified to me that they were struck blind by the light, but all would claim to have had the “scales removed from their eyes” (yet another saying originating in this passage).

Again, after speaking to each of those being Baptised today, not one of them told me that they fell to the earth after hearing of Christ, yet each have been “Floored” by the Gospel and the eternal hope they now have Jesus Christ.

The Damascus road remains famous for the dramatic transformation of Saul of Tarsus to become Paul the Apostle.

But what was it that went behind the scenes? What was it that prepared him for this event?

The answer to that is found their in verse 5

Acts 9:4–5 

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.

The Prick of The Heart

And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

The “Pricks” spoken of here by Jesus is what can be referred to as a Cattle Prod, or Ox Goad. 

In short it was used by those driving the plough being pulled by either a single cow or ox, or a yoke of them. It was a pointed stick long enough for the driver of the plow to poke into the rear of the cattle, to move them along.

Horses are spurred on by spurs or a kick of the heal into their sides, this gets them going with the bit in the mouth moving them in the direction the rider desires.

Same it is here.

Lazy and Unruly children might be influenced in the same manner ;). There is also an electrical version.

Those kicking against the pricks, while bound to the cart, only find the prick all the more discomforting, and so “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

But Jesus was not referring to a physical Ox Goad prodding the back end of Saul of Tarsus, he was referring to that work that was being done in his heart. Jesus was speaking of the reality of the Gospel being witnessed by every Christian he persecuted, pricking his own conscience of his need for forgiveness of sin.

The Gospel preached is the first way in which the hearts of man is pricked and revealed.

Acts 2:28–38 

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Anyone who has heard of the name of Jesus has had this experience before. You don’t always need to hear the Gospel, the good news of eternal life to have your hearts pricked.

This strange turning in the heart, this discomfort when they hear his name shared in adoration, or warning of judgment to come, is usually enough.

This experience in the heart of man today is the same experience that has been there since the beginning.

I am coming up to my 55th Birthday, I have been a Christian for only 26 of those fifty five years. By the age of 29 I had experienced a multitude of these pricks in the heart.

I only ever heard the gospel preached in two occasions, but I heard Christians speak of Christ many times and quite frankly it made me sick.

They would sing Christian songs or hymns around me, even HUM them, and it made me feel sick.

This was the prick in the heart spoken of here.

BUT what struck me most was when I came to myself thinking why this would happen? I still remember to this day wondering, “why that name?”, and why that name alone inspired such loathing in me? 

Never occurred when Buddha was mentioned.

Never occurred when Muhammad was mentioned.

Why did it ONLY ever occur at the name of Jesus? 

There will be some today who will certainly feel that prick in their hearts, some no doubt even feeling it now.


The Kick of The Heal

And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Here we have Jesus himself speaking in the first person as being directly persecuted by Saul of Tarsus.

Now we do know a little about Saul before his “Damascus Road” experience. The Bible has a reasonable amount to say with regard to his previous life, well Paul himself is seen to give his own testimony several times defending what happened to him.

Saul was a free-born Roman citizen (Acts 22:28).

He tribe was that of Benjamin (Phil 3:5). 

He was born in the city of Tarsus (Acts 21:39), a City that is still in existence today and still called ‘Tarsus’ in Southern Turkey, near the coast of the Mediterranean. Paul spoke of it as “No mean City”, and indeed it was not an insignificant City. Today it remains a thriving City with a population of 3 million people.

We know that Saul was a highly educated man, he studied directly at the feet of the famed Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and he became what he referred to as “A pharisee of the Pharisees” and even “the son of a Pharasee” (Acts 23:6), a religious lawyer with the greatest of zeal.

A zeal so great, he claims it was even to the extent of his persecution of the Church(Phil 3:6)

And it was at his feet that those who murdered the very first Christian martyr in the Bible, placed their clothing. A sign of his authority in the matter.

And this persecution became legendary, to the extent that the Christians of Jerusalem were scattered throughout the known world at the time.

It was ONLY AFTER Saul’s conversion and transformation on that Damamascus road, only “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31)

Beforehand however, Saul kicked his heals against those pricks.

You hear of Jesus, you listen to the Gospel and you discover that, while you have lived your life with the illusion of safety, you discover that any moment your life may end and you will stand before a holy God being judged for sin.

In days gone by, even those who were not Christians tempered their behavior simply for the risk of judgement of sin at the end of their days, The Bible says plainly 

it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb 9:27)

But no one preaches about hell anymore. Those “Scholars” who also were pricked in their hearts, decided they too will kick up their heals against the pricks and remove the clear references to hell for every modern translations. 

And so there is nothing tempering the sin in man and to shine a light on it makes many angry. Like a bright torched being shined while in a deep sleep. 

And so, “The Kick of The Heal”.

Bibles removed from all schools in the 1960’s.

A Kick Of The Heal.

The Ten Commandments being removed from all Court houses in the last decade.

A Kick of The Heal.

The removal of our dating system references, BC/AD (Before Christ and Anno Domani), to BCE and CE (Before the Common Era and Common Era). 

This does not change the reality that every time you have a birthday it is based ONLY From the coming of Christ. Every time we celebrate a New Year, it is 2022 years since the coming of Christ. 

What is this, but another Kicking of the heal against the pricks? 

Making it illegal to hand out Christmas cards in Queensland Primary Schools in 2017.

A Kick of The Heal.

X Mas to replace Christmas

A Kick of The Heal.

Happy Holidays to replace Merry Christmas

A Kick of The Heal.

“I Have my truth and you have your truth”

A Kick of The Heal.

Whether it is science falsely so called, or the vain philosophies of men to remain comfortable in their sin, it is all simply A Kick of The Heal against the pricking of the heart.

Using Jesus name as a curse word….. You don’t use Muhammad’s name do you? Not Buddha? Would you use your mothers name as a replacement for a sware word? Why Christs name?

When Isis pressed into Damascus in Syria in 2015, they singled out Christian homes. First the Churches, then threatening the Pastors for the names of their congregations, then finding Christians; men, women and children, and without mercy slaughtering them in front of their families.

They did the same in the cities of Mosul (Ancient City of Nineveh) in Iraq, and Aleppo in Syria.

This is the extreme version of Kicking the Heal against the Pricks. But we see the extent of zeal against Christ.

What is it about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that inspires such hatred?

What inspired Saul?

Why does this same response not occur with any other belief system other than Jews and Christians?

It is simply because the Gospel of Jesus Christ presses the heart to make a choice, NOT THE MIND, but the heart.

Until then, it remains 

…. hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Do you recall this in your own life?

Jonah 2:8 

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

The Gospel of Christ is the greatest news in the history of mankind. His first coming was written about thousands of years before and his GIFT of eternal salvation and heave is FREE, but we employ vain imaginations to justify the prick in our hearts, and as we do so, we forsake our own mercy.

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

The Choice of The Soul

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. 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

Each of the people being baptized this day have made this Choice to the eternal joy of their soul.

The moment they believed the Gospel, they were eternally saved by the Spirit of God. Their sins forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west, they were born again with a new heart, transformed, changed. 

Their old man is dead and they have risen to newness of life.

They KNOW they are forgiven, their sins purged by the blood of Christ, simply because they chose to believe the Gospel, that Jesus died for this sins.

What is absolutely certain to me, is that each individual is suffering a silent PLEADING in their heart that those they love the most in the world, their family, their dear friends, those invited to witness their public testimony in Baptism, would choose life for their soul.

Eternal Life. 

They testify today of a Damascus Road where their hearts were first pricked by the Gospel, they heard of the opportunity for the Gift of forgiveness, and they believed.

The Story of The Gospel

The story of the Gospel is as simple as it is profound.

The Bible says, “all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God

And “the wages of sin is death

Each person sitting here knows this to be true, because God also created you with a conscience, the innate ability to know you have done something wrong. Its not something that can be explained with a secular worldview, the idea of CHANCE as the creator of you and I does not explain why we feel guilt.

The secular world has no answers to it.

They do not understand the mind, there are no chemical imbalances, it is GUILT, it always has been and no amount of medication will ever put that away.

God sent his only begotten son to pay the penalty of the sins of the entire world, to relive them of this guilt, and to save them from the consequences of their sin, to pay the debt.

Criminals owe a debt to society, their crimes have a cost that is born by each of their victims, that debt they own MUST be PAID for justice to be served.

But did you know that someone else can pay the debt in their place? Did you know that someone can take their place and the criminal can be set free?

This remains true today. The simple example of speeding fines is one. Someone else can pay your fine, and if you accept it, you are free!

For how long will you kick against the pricks?


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