Summary: Paul lived the first part of his life learning how to be a good Jew, not knowing that from the beginning of his life, God had other plans. And God has a plan for your life.
Wow, I can’t believe what I just read. I follow Ted Turner on Twitter and this morning he posted an amazing tweet. In case you didn’t know, Ted Turner is a billionaire. He created CNN and owns the Atlanta Braves. In the past, he has been very critical of Christianity. He called it a religion for losers and joked about hell. He once said, “I’ve had a few drinks and few girlfriends, and if that’s going to put me in hell so be it…those of us who go to hell will make it better because hell is supposed to be a mess. Heaven is perfect. Who wants to go to a perfect place? Boring, boring.”
That’s what makes this tweet amazing: “This morning I have turned from my sins and put my faith in Jesus to save me. I now declare that Jesus is my Lord!”
Wow! Isn’t that great? Let’s give a clap offering to the Lord for Ted’s salvation! I’m going to call him after this service and see if he would be willing to come next Sunday and share his testimony with us. How many of you would like that?
Most of you don’t seem to be too excited about this news. I think some of you are even skeptical about his conversion. Well, if you’re skeptical, you should be, because I made it all up. I don’t even follow Ted Turner on twitter. And as far as I know, Ted Turner still ridicules Christians and rejects Jesus as the only way to heaven.
The reason I did that was to give you an idea of how the early Christians must have reacted when they heard the news that Saul, the infamous chief persecutor of Christians, had suddenly become a follower of Jesus Christ. There were probably many of them who said, “Yeah. Right. I’ll believe it when hell freezes over.” Instead of Ted Turner, I would have used Osama Ben Laden, since he really was a terrorist. But as you know, Ben Laden has gone on to his reward—or lack thereof. Before he became a Christian, Paul was a terrorist against Christians. He stood by encouraging the stoning of Stephen. He had Christians arrested and thrown into prison. He was the LAST person Christians expected to be saved. But his testimony is a story about how God can change even a terrorist into an evangelist.
Galatians 1:11-24 (quickview) . “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”