Today, we are going to continue our trek through Acts, I encourage you to take this seriously, get into the Word of life, open up your Bibles and let’s look at the Apostle Paul’s conversion.
How did you come to know Jesus as your Lord and your Savior? To be a Christian you must believe in Jesus, you must trust in Jesus and you must confess your sins to Jesus and you must commit to Jesus.
I was born into a “church going” family. We attended Memorial Baptist in Dayton regularly until I was about five years old. When I was five we moved about a half an hour away from that church, and my dad wanted to find a church closer to home. We went to Concord United Methodist Church a few times a year. We never became members, or even attended weekly. My family was still guided with Biblical principles and morals, although until I was sixteen, I was never involved in church more than a few times a year.
The day of my salvation was when I was seven years old and it was Christmas day, 1988. My parents had given my brothers and me a children’s Bible for Christmas. When I was about to go to bed that night I was staring at the picture of Christ on the cross. At this time, although no one was there to lead me in a prayer, God was there and changed my heart. I was looking at the picture of Christ on the cross and moved with tears in my eyes thinking, “He did this for me!” I knew that I was a sinner in need of a Savior.
A few years later, my father had been taking my brothers and me to a Southern Baptist barber (Mr. Tarter). My brothers and I always tried to get him talking about the Bible because his knowledge amazed us. He was a strong Christian who was involved in prison ministry and even preached at church sometimes. One day he started telling my dad how he led a man to salvation the day before. He actually told us the prayer and I heard that prayer and I said it that night and every night during my devotion time until I got involved in a church and realized I only had to say it once. That used to be when I thought I became a Christian. Now, I know that was the verbal expression of my salvation.
Today, I wish to look at Paul’s conversion and maybe this will cause you to reflect on when you became a Christian. I wish to teach you this passage, but also I hope you all will be challenge to engage Christ, be converted to Christ (if you have not been), be consecrated to Christ and be in communion with Christ. (The last two are where the real struggle seems to be for so many.)
Let’s read Acts 9:1-9:
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing thevoice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
- Contact: verse 3: in verse 3 we see Paul’s contact with Jesus. Notice he is still called Saul at this point.
- Paul was traveling along the road that led to Jerusalem. Paul was heading towards Damascus.
- Damascus was 135 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Now, think about that, Paul had all that traveling to do in order to imprison Christians.
- How hostile do you think he was? How much hatred do you think he had? For 6 days on foot he was traveling simply to imprison Christians. I would think his anger would wear off.
- Paul was attacking Christians and after Paul becomes a Christian he will need forgiven and he will be.
- As Paul was approaching Damascus, suddenly, a light from Heaven surrounded him.
- In 1 Corinthians 9:1 he says that he saw Jesus. (this same chapter verse 27 and 22:14)
- An interesting thought, the last person before Saul to see the resurrected Christ was Stephen. He said, “Look at that, I see the Son of God standing at the right hand of the Father,” (Acts 7:55) Everyone witnessed this.
- But if it isn’t grace to realize that the man standing there, in measure responsible for the stoning of Stephen, was, in the grace of God, the next one to see His glory. That’s how grace operates.
- Stephen prayed “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Acts 7:59-60) God answered, and God was gracious unto Saul. The heavens are opened one more time, and this killer, Saul, gazes into the glory and the person of Him whom he persecuted.
- The person who witnessed the first martyrdom when the last person saw Jesus, he is the next person to see the risen Lord!
- Conviction: verse 4: Paul was convicted in verse 4.
- Now, I think that is conviction and his conversion are both in the white space in between these next few verses.
- Conversion: verse 5
- Paul fell to the ground. Remember the previous chapter? The Ethiopian was converted on a chariot. Now, Paul is converted in dust.
- In verse 5, Paul calls Jesus Lord. This likely meant that Paul was simply calling him “sir,” but based off of the rest of this passage, I think he is being converted.
- There are a lot of crazy explanations for this event. Let me give you a few:
- i. Renan, the Frenchman, says, “Well, it was an uneasy conscience with unstrung nerves, fatigue of the journey, eyes inflamed by the hot sun, and a sudden stroke of fever that produced the hallucination.”
- ii. Others say a thunderstorm just happened to hit at the very moment, and he was so overwrought by the guilt of his own conscience that he assumed it was God speaking to him and imagined the whole thing.
- iii. Others say, he had epilepsy.
- iv. I read that one thing about an epileptic that is to be noted is that an epileptic cannot remember anything that occurs during a fit, or a seizure. It’s amazing how Paul so well detailed what happened.
- Consecration: (Acts 22:10)
- I told you how I was converted earlier. Let’s talk about my call to ministry.
When I was in ninth grade I started attending Northmont Community Church in Dayton, Ohio. God worked through this church and I started going to the youth group and the worship services at the end of ninth grade. In tenth grade I was baptized by immersion in this church.
In the fall of 1998 I started taking a thirty-six week Discipleship course taught by the Youth Pastor. I was responsible for completing accountability forms, meeting weekly with a prayer and accountability partner, completing hour long (in depth Bible studies), scripture memory and we had a lesson every week. I also joined the Ministry/Mission team of the youth group. This gave me an opportunity to take part in the leadership of the group. This team also did service projects. During Discipleship we had a lesson on God’s will in our lives. I had to ask friends to fill out a form about what I am good at, and what I am like. It was during this time that my Youth Pastor thought that I might be called into the ministry. I thought and prayed about it. We looked into spiritual gifts. The gifts of ministry appeared high for me. I remembered how much I loved dealing with the Bible, people, serving, ministering, teaching, planning, and all the things I had been exposed to that Pastors do. Over the next few years I realized and accepted God wanted me in professional ministry.
- Look with me at Acts 22:10: And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’
- I am sure that you noticed that Paul asked what he needed to do. This is when the Lord told Him that things are appointed for him and he will find out in Damascus.
- I hope that you are challenged every day to be able to say, “Lord, what shall I do?” The Lord has things in store for you. He has a plan. Pray for opportunities.
- I heard the best illustration of Paul’s communion. This is not my idea, but I like it:
What was the last thing he ever saw? Jesus. Have you ever looked in the sun, and then everywhere else you look all you see is the sun? Or you had somebody take your picture and all…everywhere you look, flash. They say if you look at the sun long enough, you’ll be blind. An astronomer tried it, and he was. You know what I think? I don’t think Saul’s blindness was the blindness of darkness. I think it was the blindness of light. I think for three days all he ever saw was the Son, S-O-N, that he couldn’t get rid of the vision of Jesus. That’s all he ever saw.
So he spent three days getting acquainted. And I think that’s when all the old things died. And they died hard. And he didn’t yet understand forgiveness, either, and he would still have guilt.
Today, I hope you were taught some new thoughts regarding this passage, but also I hope you all have been challenged to engage Christ, be consecrated to Christ and be in communion with Christ.
Now, I encourage you to go forth and be engaged with Jesus in a relationship consecrated to Him and in communion with Him.
Of course, I wonder if you have thought about your conversion to Christ. Do you know Jesus?
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)