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Light From Heaven tells of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

The Book of Acts Series

The Book of Acts is a 10-part series of short Bible films dramatizing the 28 chapters that comprise the Acts of the Apostles. The series was produced in 1957 by Family Films on behalf of Broadman Films, based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1951, the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) decided to join other religious organizations in producing 16mm films as a modern and effective means of spreading the gospel.  

Lacking experience in film production, the SBC turned to Hollywood-based Family Films and negotiated a deal with founder Sam Hersh for his studio to produce a series of short films to be shown in Baptist churches and sold in their bookstores. Family Films would provide the studio, writers, cast and crew; SBC incorporated Broadman Films as the distribution brand. The partnership got off to a strong start and continued for many years. One of the first titles produced was Missionary to Walker’s Garage (1954), which starred former child star Dickie Jones and became a top rental.  

Following the success of Family Films’ 26-episode The Living Christ series and Cathedral Films’ 12-episode Life of St. Paul series, Broadman in 1956 commissioned Family Films to produce The Book of Acts series in 10 episodes. Many familiar Hollywood faces were cast and Nelson Leigh reprised his role as the Apostle Paul. Here are film descriptions for each episode:    

1. Endued with Power
The disciples are baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and Peter preaches to the crowds. He and John heal a lame beggar and are called before the Sanhedrin because of the resulting disturbance among the people. The disciples are released but again taken captive when they continue to preach in Jesus’s name. They are miraculously released from prison and again continue preaching and teaching to the people. Once more the disciples are brought before the Sanhedrin and flogged by the temple guards. In spite of this they again preach with the power of the Holy Spirit.  

2. Every Christian a Missionary
Since the day of Pentecost the early Christians continue witnessing for Christ. Peter preaches to the crowds, heals a lame beggar and is brought before the Sanhedrin. Even in the Council Chamber he witnesses for Christ. Stephen is also brought before the Sanhedrin, but the courage of his convictions leads to his death by stoning. Philip goes to Samaria and witnesses for Christ. The converted Saul of Tarsus carries the name of Jesus before the gentiles. Peter witnesses in Cornelius’s house. Barnabas preaches to both Jews and Greeks in Antioch. Paul and Barnabas become missionaries and leave on their first journey.  

3. A Faithful Witness
Seven men are chosen to take over the material duties of the growing Christian fellowship. One of these men, Philip, travels to Samaria and engages in a successful preaching campaign. Peter and John are sent to Samaria to help Philip in his work. The Lord has greater work for Philip, however, and he is directed to go south toward Gaza. He obeys and witnesses to the Ethiopian. Philip baptizes the Ethiopian and he goes on his way rejoicing.  

4. God’s Care of His Own
The early Christian movement has spread away from Jerusalem as far as Antioch. Barnabas is sent by the Jerusalem Christians to Antioch to help in the work there. He brings Paul from Tarsus and they continue their ministry in Antioch. The Christians send food to their suffering fellow Christians in Jerusalem. Herod the King has James, the brother of John, killed in his attempt to pacify the Jews. Many Christians, including Peter, are imprisoned. Peter miraculously escapes and goes to the group of Christians praying in Mary’s house. They help Peter leave Jerusalem. Herod is stricken and suddenly dies. The early Christians realize how God is caring for them.  

5. Light From Heaven
Saul of Tarsus watches with approval while the angry mob stones Stephen. He then zealously attacks Christians and even secures papers from the high priest allowing him to take action against Christians in Damascus. On his way to Damascus, Saul is struck blind and he hears Jesus’s voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” In Damascus, Ananias comes to him and Saul regains his sight. The converted and enlightened Saul is ready to begin his great ministry.  

6. No Respecter of Persons
Cornelius, a Roman centurion and a devout worshiper of God, is commanded to send for Peter. In the meantime, Peter has a vision in which he is told, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common!” Cornelius is eager to hear what Peter has to tell them. Peter, overcoming his prejudice, enters the house of the centurion gentile and preaches Christ to them. Peter is called upon by the Jerusalem assembly to defend his actions, explains what has happened and testifies that God gave the same gift of salvation to the gentiles of Cornelius’s house as they themselves had received.  

7. Salvation and Christian Fellowship
Many Jewish Christians find it difficult to accept gentiles in the fellowship of believers. They argue from the laws of Moses that these laws must apply to the gentiles before they can be admitted to the Christian church. Paul and Barnabas are called to Jerusalem to report on the work in Antioch, and how gentiles in great numbers have accepted the Lord. Paul tells of the experiences on their first journey when gentiles believed in Christ. Leaders of the Jerusalem church then agree that gentile Christians should be received into fellowship if they will but observe some of the ceremonial laws. The early Christian church thus broke religious and racial barriers.  

8. Triumphant
Paul preaches to all who will listen, even while a prisoner in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar. Paul writes letters to the young churches throughout the countries where he had gone in his missionary travels. Finally the aged Paul reflects on the triumphant faith that has kept him through the years of suffering for his Lord.  

9. What Must I Do to Be Saved?
While on his missionary journeys Paul receives the call to “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” In Philippi, Lydia and a group worshiping by the river bank are led to Christ. Paul and Silas are thrown into prison as a result of Paul’s healing the demented slave girl. An earthquake wrecks the jail. The jailer is about to kill himself when Paul stops him. The jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas witness to him and his household and they accept Christ.  

10. Witness Before a King
Paul is seized and is about to be scourged when he declares his Roman citizenship. He is brought before Ananias and the priests. A plot to kill him is defeated. Paul is then taken to Caesarea before Felix for trial. Two years later he is in chains before King Agrippa and Festus. There he testifies of his obedience to Christ before the king.