Summary: The supernatural work of God in changing Saul’s life tells us of God’s grace and hope for the lost.
In the last few chapters we saw 2 Spirit-filled deacons - Stephen and Philip who became pioneers in bringing the Gospel beyond Jerusalem.
• In chapters 9 and 10, Luke tells us of 2 extraordinary conversions – Saul and Cornelius, which eventually set the mission going.
Saul’s conversion marks another important milestone for the church.
• It can be considered as one of the most significant events in church history.
• This is so important that Luke penned it 3 times, here in chapter 9, and again in chapters 22 and 26.
Young Saul of Tarsus, the enemy of the church, the persecutor of Christians, the destroyer of Christianity, ended up being a passionate preacher the Gospel and the pioneer of many churches.
• What happened? God showed up in his life!
• He was stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus, miraculously converted and recruited to share the Gospel to the regions beyond.
• This conversion is a reminder to us that God is in the business of pursuing men and women and transforming lives today.
Luke the author wanted us to see that Saul was the greatest threat to Christianity at that time.
• 8:1 says when Stephen was murdered, “Saul was there, giving approval to his death.”
• 8:3 “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”
• Then in 9:1–2 Luke says that Paul was not just threatening the Christians, he was "breathing out murderous threats." He kills them, not just in Jerusalem, but wherever they fled to.
• Later on, in Acts 26, in his appearance before King Agrippa, Paul tells the king how he felt at this time: "I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them." (Acts 26:9-11).
You can see that this was not a small task or a part-time job for Saul.
• It went right to the core of his belief. He was determined to destroy them.
• Christianity with its message of salvation by faith apart from works is heresy to him. It needs to be destroyed.
• He was even determined to take his persecution over 240km North East to Damascus.
What God Wants Us to See
• This is the kind of person that no one expects to be converted.
• His own belief system is too deep, his opposition is too intense.
• His whole life would have to be changed if he embraces Christianity – he has to drop his deep-rooted belief in the Law and all his ‘obedience to the Law’ stuff.
• All that he has learnt and grew up in would have to be demolished.
And now that he has taken such a public stand against the Christians, taking on this very heroic crusade against Christianity, it would be utterly humiliating to change his mind and support what he had fought against.
• It would be like Hitler getting converted and becoming the greatest missionary in Germany and Europe.
• It would be like Saddam Hussein getting converted and becoming a Christian missionary to Muslims in Saudi Arabia.
If there was a prayer meeting then, I doubt anyone would pray for Saul be saved.
• Maybe some might even pray that Saul be “terminated” in some divine act or in a natural accident (“act of God”).
• I can believe the believers who gathered to pray would have prayed for the protection of the church and for the safety of believers, especially the leaders of the church.
• No one, it would seem, was even thinking of what God was about to do. Ananias is not only surprised; he is resistant to being called to help Saul, at least initially.
Yet Saul was converted! Against all odds!
• God wants us to see that this most unlikely person can even be converted.
• The “worst of sinners” (1 Tim 1:16) – the chief of sinners was converted.
• Last week we saw an Ethiopian eunuch, an unlikely candidate coming to know Christ. And now Saul.
• If it can happen to Saul, it can happen to anyone. There is hope for everyone.