Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Freedom #6: Paul’s Conversion and Calling

Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, an enemy of Christ to the extreme. Though highly educated and intelligent, he was like a madman in his hatred of Christ and Christians. If you and I had lived back then, we would have considered him the chief enemy of the Church, hopelessly lost with no possibility of ever being saved.  Like a mad dog, he was rabid with rage against Christians, seeking them out and imprisoning them.  No human being could have ever reached him.  The risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, had to personally  confront him and knock him out.  That He did as Paul was traveling to Damascus to seek out more Christians to persecute.

  

A blinding light like a bolt of lightning hit him and knocked him to the ground. He was temporarily blinded  and could not stand up. Acts 9 describes this event.

  

The Risen Christ spoke, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”

  

Saul, recognizing that whoever this was, He was LORD. replied, “Who art Thou, Lord?”

  

The voice identified Himself, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (or the ox goading). Jesus was referring to the conviction of the Holy Spirit he felt ever since he witnessed the death of the martyr, Stephen. This is described in Acts 7.

  

Saul not only received Christ as His Saviour, but He immediately  surrendered to Christ as his Lord and began to live for Christ and serve Him with the same intensity with which he had hated Him and persecuted Christians before his conversion. His conversion is recorded in several other places, including Acts 22:1-15,  26:9-23,  Galatians 1:11-24 and  Philippians 3:1-14.

  

Acts 9:10-31 describes some other interesting details that followed his conversion, including his introduction to the Christians he had been persecuting. I encourage you to read those. Try to put yourself in Ananias’ shoes. Would you have been willing to do what he did?

  

Saul, who almost immediately became known as Paul, (Acts 13:9)  was led by Christ into Arabia where the risen Saviour personally gave him  three years of concentrated teaching of Himself and His wonderful salvation.  When Christ was finished with him, Paul had a clear, logical, organized understanding of the Christian Faith and was later able to write his Epistle to the Romans with its masterful, organized explanation of what it means to be a Christian.

  

Because the risen, glorified Christ had personally taught Paul, Christ appointed him to be His Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul was just as qualified to be an Apostle as Christ’s twelve with whom He had spent three years prior to His crucifixion.

  

Now that Paul was saved and on fire for Christ, he was no longer an ally of Satan, but now he was a chief enemy of Satan.  From now on he would feel the fury of Satan.

   

The Judaizing teachers followed Paul wherever he preached and attempted to undermine his ministry by defaming him and corrupting his message of salvation through the grace of God, apart from works. 

  

Paul countered their attacks by  defending his Apostleship in Galatians chapters 1-2. After all, if Paul was not a true Apostle, as his enemies charged, then they were right in warning young Christians to reject Paul’s teaching. 

  

Paul also countered their attacks by defending his message of salvation through the grace of God in chapters 3-4.  The Judaizers were insisting that Christians must continue to observe the Old Testament ceremonial system taught to Israel.  All of that, of course, was a picture of Christ, who was the fulfillment of the ceremonial system.

  

Paul also countered their false teaching by explaining that the Christian life is lived through the control of the Spirit of God and not through the works of the flesh nature. This is taught in Galatians chapters 5-6.

  

Note, that ultimately it was not Paul who changed his mind about Christ and finally decided to follow Him. According to Galatians 1:15-16  God chose Paul while he was yet in his mother’s womb. God, knowing the end from the beginning, reached down to Paul and conquered him.  He who had been the chief enemy of the Church now became a most ardent missionary evangelist and church builder.

  

God has always called His servants from birth.  Not only Saul of Tarsus, as we saw in Galatians 1:15,  but John the Baptist was also called from his mother’s womb according to Luke 1:15. We learn in Isaiah 49:5 that Isaiah was called from birth;  as was the prophet Jeremiah, as we see in Jeremiah 1:5.

The purpose of God’s election and calling according to Galatians 1:24 is always that God; not His servants, may be glorified.

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September 6, 2007 - Posted by | Freedom

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