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And now there’s news that he has changed; not just that he has become nicer, but that he has become one of the people he has been trying to destroy all along. Do you suppose, if he were to offer to come lead a ladies’ retreat here or to apply for our children’s ministry position we might hesitate – at least a little? Would you go to hear him preach? Would you trust him at a special gathering? If he really was changed, you might. But is he, or isn’t he?
You and I have had to wrestle with thoughts like that before, and we will again. We’re not the first. The guy I’ve just been describing to you is actually another case of name change in the Bible – the last one we’re going to consider in this series. His name is Saul. He’s not an Iranian Muslim terrorist. He’s actually a Jewish Pharisee from the city of Tarsus in Cilicia, and raised in Jerusalem. We’re not exactly sure that his name was really changed – only that in Acts 13:9, out of the blue, it says Saul was also called Paul, and then, from that time forward, he’s always known as Paul. So, whether God changed his name or not, for our practical purposes, He did, because that’s his name to us from then on. Paul.
This morning, I want to look at this man, a “forever changed” person, as an example and reminder to us of the way God changes people – even people who are on an absolute crash-course for hell. Why do we need to see that or even think about it? I’m glad you asked that. Stay tuned!
We’re introduced to Saul of Tarsus in Acts 7 where the first person ever to die for his devotion to Jesus is being pummeled to death with rocks. Saul isn’t throwing rocks, but there’s a man there, less than 40 years old, cheering on the murder, and guarding the coats of everyone who’s doing it. 8:1 tells us that Saul was there, giving his approval. It all seems to ignite a flame inside him – a flame of religious zeal and indignation against Christians. A great persecution is launched against the Church, and Saul is on the leading edge of it. How dare they
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