The Conversion of Saul
The gospel is salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. This is the theme of the Bible. Each book contributes to this message. It’s amazing what the gospel of Christ can do. The gospel has the power to transform even the most wretched of people. The book of Acts specifically teaches us how sinners can have their sins washed away. The conversion of Saul illustrates this for us. While Saul was carrying out his own plan, little did he know that on his way to Damascus his life would forever be changed.
Saul was born in Tarsus. He was educated by Gamaliel, a revered scholar by the Jews, in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1-3 ). Saul was a master in Jewish theology. He was zealous for the old law. Philippians 3:5 Paul himself says, “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee.” Saul hated the church and was a persecutor of early Christians. He was determined to eradicate these people that challenged the Jewish law. Saul wouldn’t be satisfied until the Christians were exterminated. Acts 8:3 says, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
In Acts we read about Saul's amazing transformation. This to me was one of the greatest days in human history. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest and return to Jerusalem with those who were of the Way (Acts 9:2). It was about noon when a great light came from heaven and Jesus appeared and asked Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” But Jesus wasn’t on earth, physically being persecuted.
This shows us that to persecute His people is to persecute Jesus. Jesus is inseparable from His people. He is bound to His people. Christ has identified with us. Christ bears our griefs, He carries our sorrows. While Saul thought he was persecuting Christians, he was delivering blows to Jesus. Paul himself would suffer for Christ. Paul later on would say, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 5:17).
Some points to take about Saul's conversion:
Saul’s conversion was no different than any of the other conversions of Acts. This tells us that there is a pattern Christ wants us to follow. Acts 2:37-38 tells us what Peter told those first believers what they must do in order to be saved. It is possible that Saul knew about the day of Pentecost and was aware of what sinners were doing to be redeemed. Throughout the book of Acts we read about others who came to Christ via this same pattern. Saul followed this very same Way. Saul prayed after his encounter with the Lord yet this was not enough to save him (9:11). Acts 22:16 tells us that Ananias told Saul to “be baptized, and wash away your sins.” Paul would later on say that when we were baptized into Christ we put on Christ (Gal 3:27). The word of God is clear on what must be done if we are to inherit the kingdom of God.
Two questions to consider:
I love what Saul asked Jesus when he met Him on the road. Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). This is the most important question we all must ask. Who is the Lord to you? Is He Lord of your life? Your marriage? Your family? Can the world see Christ in you? Is He only a God you call, on demand, whenever you need Him? We must make sure we do not conform to this world of instant gratification. Our Lord should be someone whom we walk with, talk with, and read about daily until the end. From the time Saul was converted, he made up his mind that he wanted to know who the Lord was to him (Phil. 3:10).
Saul followed his first question with another important question. In Acts 9:6, Saul said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Have you asked the Lord this question lately? What is His will for your life? In order to know that we must seek Him daily. When we are raised with Christ, we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ is. We are to set our mind on things above, not on things on earth (Col. 3:1-2). This is how we’ll know what the Lord wants from us.
As I think about our theme for this year, it’s comforting to know that the Lord can be Lord to anyone who will ask Him in faith. Saul’s conversion is a great example we can use to tell others about Christ. Just like Saul, we have many people today who despise Christians. Just as Saul was lost and found through the blood of Christ, so can anyone today who calls upon His name. Saul’s conversion confirms without a doubt that the gospel is for all.