Summary: This is a look at Sauls conversion on the road to Damascus and the consequences.
The lamp post experience (conversion)
"Have you ever had a lamp post experience?"
What do I mean by that? Well you know your walking down the street and then out of nowhere a lamppost appears and your walk straight into it."
Saul would hit something far bigger than a lamp post, on his way to Damascus with letters to persecute people of the way, he would encounter the One who said, "I am the Way the truth and the life." His walk would come to an abrupt stop, he would hit a dead end and his whole life would take a complete U - turn.
Saul had a rich heritage and a glowing Curriculum vitae. Saul was passionate and immersed in religion so much so he would persecute and even kill for what he believed in but on that day as he went out with letters from men. He would return with a word from God. Which would set his life on a whole new adventure.
Paul’s pre-conversion credentials
Here was a rising star in pharasical circles born in Tarsus and taught under Gamaliel in Jerusalem. He was from the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the 8th day, regarding the law he was faultless. Here was zealot in every matter of Religion. He was advancing beyond his peers Gal.1v13-14.
Saul knew his position in life a Pharisee, his purpose was advancement and his priority in life persecution!
We witness his priority in Act: 9 v1-2 Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord and as he sought letters to continue and carry out his threats. Acts 8:1 He also approved the execution of Stephen. Acts 22.v4. I persecuted the followers of this way to their death arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison says Paul.
What would we call him today? A religious terrorist?
Here we see the need for religous people to be ruely converted.
Conversion is more than becoming deeply religious,
Saul was deeply religious, and his God was the living God yet prior to this encounter he served God according to the pharisaical law. But what God always desired from his people was mercy and not sacrifice. He was living according to rules; Here was a young man who went through the outward form with no inward change.
We need to beware of doing Church, being religous, doing things out of habit, having the outward form but without the inner reality of God the Holy Spirit.
Saul also served with his whole heart, Saul loved God and yet the very God he thought he was serving, he was fighting against. Saul was wrapped up in the form without the heart change that God himself brings.
People say, "If your hearts in the right place." But it’s not enough.
Islamic fundamentals serve God with all their heart. But lets never forget the human heart is corrupt...
Beware of the Human heart Jer 17:9 its decitful desperately wicked in its naural state. Somebody once said, "The heart of the problem is the problem of the human heart."
Christian Barnard was a South African heart surgeon who pioneered the first heart transplant. Yet he wasnt able to save himsef from dying of heart trouble. You see we cannot save ourselves. The heart change we need is radical only the greatest physician can ever accomplish it!
Lets remember Saul was a nasty piece of work, he would call himself the chief of sinners, but we see that even for him there is opportunity for forgiveness.
No one is beyond forgiveness
One time Conservative politician Jonathan Atkin was busted for perjury, yet in Prison he himself had a lamp post experience.
Remeber no matter who you are, and what you have done our sin is wiped out.
There was once a Minister who carried the burden of a secret sin, he had repented but still had no sense of Gods forgiveness. In his Church a women who claimed to have visions meeting Christ. He was skeptical. So he tested her. "Next time you speak with Christ ask him what sin your minister committed at Bible College?" A few days later the Minister enquired, "has Christ visited you?" "Yes he did." "And did you ask him?" "Yes I did." she said. "Well what did he say?" He said, "I don’t remember" Our sins are forgiven remember that!
1) Conversion involves being confronted with the truth 4--5
Prime Minister. Winston Churchill once said, "truth is incontrovertible Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is."
The truth the Bible sets out and we see it here is that we are in rebellion against God, this was the case for Saul v4 .
Although none of us would to say we are as extreme as what Saul was as a persecutor of Christians and maybe have never really fallen into the temptations of the world, yet every human being is born in rebellion to God.