Sunday, May 1, 2011


Saul really wasn't a nice guy.  Oh, he was educated by the best of teachers, and could trace his roots to the most prominent of families. In his own words, he had reason for confidence in himself:

 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
(Philippians 3:4-6 ESV)
But his confidence was misplaced.  His zealousness was evil.  He persecuted the followers of Christ, breathing threats and murder against men and women belonging to the Way.

But Jesus stopped him in his tracks.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
(Acts 9:3-4 ESV)

Saul couldn't believe what was happening to him, I'd imagine.  He had no idea Who was speaking to him, holding him accountable for his murderous actions.  I think he must have been trembling in his boots.

"Who are you, Lord?"  The question must have come falteringly.  Saul really didn't know.  Then came the answer that would hit him like a blow to the stomach:

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Notice this.  Saul was persecuting the disciples of Christ, men and women who belonged to the Lord.  When Saul heard the question, "Why are you persecuting me?" his mind must have been racing, thinking back to the different people he had hunted down, arrested, and brought in chains to the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  Which of them had such power?  Was it Stephen?  No, he had died.   Could it be...?

So he questioned, "Who are you, Lord?"

I am Jesus.
Wait, Saul must have thought, his mind wildly racing.  Isn't Jesus the man who was crucified a few weeks ago?  It's his followers that I am chasing down.

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

There is an inseparable union between Christ and His followers.  Those who revile and maim and torture and imprison Christians are doing it to Jesus Christ.  Make no mistake.  They will answer to Him.

 You can read the rest of the account of the conversion of Saul here.  Go to Philippians 3 to read what happened to him internally.

His life changed.  Dramatically.  God converted him from a murderous persecutor of Christians to a preacher of Christ.  He was chosen by God to carry His name before Gentiles, before kings, and before the children of Israel.  He was chosen to suffer much, to strive hard, to work diligently for the sake of Jesus Christ and His people.

It's funny though... the people in Jerusalem didn't welcome him with open arms.  Even though he spent a good deal of time in Damascus, preaching boldly and learning from the Holy Spirit, by the time he got to Jerusalem about three years later, he was regarded with suspicion.

...they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.

Barnabas had to stick up for him and vouch for him. In time, the rest of the Christians could see that Saul had changed and that his conversion was genuine.

Go to Philippians 3 and read how Saul was changed.  This is how we know that someone's faith is genuine.

  • their gains are counted as loss
  • they know Christ intimately, sharing life with Him
  • they are in Christ (counting His righteousness as their own; not relying on themselves)
  • they share in His sufferings
  • they obey His will
Genuine Faith in Christ is the confident, continuous confession of total dependence on Jesus.  It is the confident, continuous confession that the only One we trust in is Jesus.  It is the confident, continuous confession that our only hope is in Him - that His righteousness has been imputed to us, and that some day we will attain the prize that is unattainable on earth - the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Confident - Jesus is Who He says He is.  He is the truth.  He is always faithful.
Continuous - Every day I must put on the Armour of God and stand firm.
Confession - Acknowledgement of the helplessness of my estate, and the Sufficiency of Christ.

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. 
(Robert Murray M’Cheyne p. 179)

Saul's faith was genuine.  His confidence changed from confidence in his own flesh to confidence in Christ.  His faith was continuous - daily, he prayed; daily, he obeyed.  His faith was repentant, as he acknowledged that without Christ, he was nothing.  

Is there someone in your life who has made a profession of faith?  You may be reluctant to welcome him because of his former evil ways.  Pray for him, and watch to see if he has a confident, continuous confession of total dependence on Jesus.

Is there someone in your life who talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk?  Pray for him, that God will meet him on his "Damascus Road" and open his eyes to the truth of Jesus.

Go here to read "The Sinner's Opinion of Himself", which ties in beautifully to this post.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful take. I love how once God chooses you **BAM** you're His, you have no choice. We're his instruments, He does what he wants with us. :)

    We do need to pray for one another continually, but I confess I'm not very good at it.


Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.