OF WHOM I AM THE WORST

There is much to be learned from the life of the Apostle Paul.  Perhaps one of the most profound aspects, albeit most of his life was not what one would consider average, was his conversion.

When the conversion of Apostle Paul is referenced throughout the New Testament, what is illustrated is who he was before meeting Christ, how they met and how it changed his life.

He was born a Jew named Saul of Taurus to Pharisaic parents.  A Roman by citizenship and a Greek by education.  It seems befitting that Paul’s conversion was as intense and unrivaled as he was.  Here is a man who was a fire-breathing Pharisee.  He was the Christian church’s most treacherous enemy.  A lawyer by vocation, he was the leader of the persecution movement, hunting down Christians who had scattered as he ravaged  them in Jerusalem.

Soon after Peter’s proclamation of his defense for the gospel of Jesus before the Sanhedrin and the stoning of Stephen, Saul set out with his men toward Damascus with the intent to further eradicate Christians.  He was filled with murderous rage as he and his men marched on with determined resolve to root out every Christian.

And then it happened.  Divine interruption.  No forewarning.  No announcement.  Pounding steps halted.  Plumes of dust dissolved.  Knowing what Saul was planning the Lord had waited…until…the very moment when it would have the most profound impact.  Saul’s life would never be the same.

“As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ” (Acts 9:3-4)

It was personal.  Saul was not only persecuting Christians, but he was persecuting Christ since Christians belong to Him.

There is a sacred comfort in knowing that our Savior is so intricately woven into the tapestry of our lives that what we experience reverberates with Him.

When Saul least expected, He was confronted with Christ.  The Savior revealed himself.  Whom Saul believed was dead initiated the intervention.

He pursues us.  He invades our lives and exposes our sin.  We are convicted of our sin and understand it is what separates us from God.  He is sovereign in our salvation.

Not all conversions are as dramatic as Saul’s.  Some people hear the still, small voice and respond immediately.  Others, like Saul, with whom I can relate, need a more drastic approach.  The One who created us knows what it will take for us to ‘hear’ and to ‘see’.

It is not necessary that we should be able to tell where or how we have been converted, but it is important that we should be able to tell that we are converted. ~ D.L. Moody

“And he said, “Who are you, Lord?”  Saul recognized Jesus as Lord.

And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:5)

There it is.  Saul’s blistering rage, his frothing indignation, and his sweltering pride, were crushed in an instant by the truth of Christ.  He laid penitent and broken.  Surrendered.

There on that road, Saul, had been struck with the blinding reflection of his own sin but captured by the Lord’s grace and mercy.  He had been saved.

Any person who lives apart from Christ is rejecting Him just as Saul had done.

Saul acknowledged Christ for whom He is and remained prostrate on the ground until the Lord gave him instructions and he obeyed.

Now blinded, Paul is dependent on his traveling companions to help him continue on his way to Damascus.  There, Saul is to meet up with Ananias, who is apprehensive because Saul’s reputation among Christians precedes him.

However, the Lord reassured Ananias that Saul is a ‘chosen instrument’ to spread the Gospel throughout the lands.  Ananias obeyed and sought Saul out.  Saul’s vision was restored.  Through prayer he received the Holy Spirit and was then baptized.

Immediately, Saul began proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues.  The people of Damascus were confounded by Saul’s preaching because they knew of his reputation among Christians.

Had the blood on his clothes even dried from his violence against the Christians just days ago?

Even the disciples were skeptical.

Yet, Paul continued to increase in strength, proving that Jesus was the Christ.

“This is the story of the conversion of this man. It is great evidence of the fact that God can take the worst of the worst and make them the best. Nobody is ever too low to be unredeemable. I think there are times that we wonder whether the grace of God can ever be extended in certain cases, and that often becomes the exact time when the grace of God does its greatest and most glorious work.”  ~ John MacArthur

Saul, was a great enemy of God, who would unwittingly meet his Holy Savior on the road to Damascus and become Paul, one of the greatest messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THAT…is the glory of God.

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