Summary: When God comes on the scene or into your life He makes dramatic changes. What a great example Saul is of this. From persecutor to preacher. God’s still has the power to change lives today.
Introduction: from an unknown source: A man from the back mountains of Tennessee found himself one day in a large city, for the first time standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old, haggard woman hobbled on, and the doors closed. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched smartly off. The father hollered to his youngest son, “Billy, go get mother.”
Saul really could have used a booth like that! Listen to his description, “A man of moderate stature, with crisp hair, crooked legs, blue eyes, large knit brows, and a long nose, at times looking like a man, at times like an angel” (from the apocryphal book, "The Acts of Paul and Thecla").
Realistically there is no magic elevator, fountain, or otherwise that will change people. There is however a God of the miraculous and when he comes on the scene dramatic change happens!
What better example of this than Saul who made true God’s promise to Abraham; that through his seed all the nations will be blessed. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. Paul carried the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the world. In Saul we see the greatest about-face of anyone in history.
· What I believe that God wants us to see from Saul’s dramatic change on the Road to Damascus is that no one is too bad for salvation. (There is not distinction all have sinned) Romans 3.23
o We must remember that Saul, when he took up his Greek name Paul, called himself the chief of sinners.
· The story of Saul’s dramatic change also instructs us that we don’t “clean up” to come to God. When God meets us at the crossroads of life, He cleans us up!!!
· God wants everyone to come face to face with the reality of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection.
This morning I want to point out three very important landmarks on Saul’s road to dramatic change.
Transition: The initial landmark in Saul’s dramatic change is his desire.
I. Saul’s Desire
A) To build his own righteousness
James Stalker who wrote a book on the life of Paul the apostles had this to say,
“It was the universal belief of His people that Messiah would only come to a nation keeping the law, and it was even said that if one man kept it perfectly for a single day, his merit would bring to the earth the King for whom they were waiting. Paul’s Rabbinical training, then, culminated in the desire to win this prize of righteousness and he left the halls of sacred learning with this as the purpose of his life.”
1) Saul did not understand righteousness is given, not gained.
2) Saul forgot his righteous deeds were as filthy garments (Is 64.6b)
a) Righteousness is not based on what we can do but what God has done! (What is your point Bro Bill?)
1) Point: 1 Corinthians 6.9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”
2) You must be wondering how can I know who is unrighteous?
c) Righteousness is the gift of God
Romans 5.17 “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
Paul’s desire to win the prize was a pointless journey.
It is like the little boy or girl or even grown man who sees a rainbow and runs to reach the end of the rainbow in order to get the pot of gold. They will keep running and running and never reach their prize! It will always be just out of reach.
Saul’s desire for the prize of righteousness drove him to want the destruction of Jesus disciples.
B) To destroy those “belonging to the Way.”
1) His threats
“Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder”
a) Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament draws a vivid picture of words describing what Saul was doing.
“Saul breathed, like a war-horse who sniffed the smell of battle.”
b) Breathing (emp-neh-oh) – Very similar to the word used to say that God inspired all of scripture.
1) This word shows that Saul was instrumental and responsible for the death of several believers, men and women in Jerusalem.
Acts 9.2 “letters” Warrants, authority to bring people to Jerusalem
2) It also shows us that Saul’s desire was to be the means by which Christianity was blown off the face of the earth.
2) His targets
a) Followers of the Way
1) Distinctive name of the early Christians is used five times in Acts. (9.2, 19.9, 19.23, 22.4, 24.14, 22.22)