Summary: This is Paul's personal testimony, and it fits nobody else in all of history. As far as the record goes, nobody else on this planet was every converted by getting knocked to the ground and blinded by the presence of Christ.
America was at war with Spain in 1898. One of the most unusual incidents in the history of
naval warfare took place. One night Captain Freemont of the American ship Porter detected some
strange object coming toward the ship. As it came closer he saw that it was a torpedo. Ensign Irving
Gillis instantly took off his coat and shoes and leaped into the water. He swam to the side of the
torpedo, which was floating toward the ship and not being propelled rapidly. He circled the war nose
with his arm and screwed the firing pin up tight so it could not go off. Then he pulled the disarmed
weapon to the side of the ship. He and his prize were hauled aboard and the ship was saved from
This very unusual experience is a parallel of the very unique experience of Paul on the road to
Damascus. He was, by his own admission, like an enemy torpedo sent to sink the ship of Christ's
church. He was armed and deadly, but Jesus leaped into the events of history and disarmed this
torpedo and hauled it aboard the ship. It became one of the great trophies of victory in the history of
the church. The point is that Paul's conversion experience is extremely unusual. There is nothing
like it anywhere in the Bible or Christian history. It is a once in a history experience and it becomes a
marvelous basis for the study of Christian experience. There is more Scripture dealing with Paul's
conversion than with any other in the Bible. The story is repeated three times in the book of Acts.
The word experience is from the Latin expertus, which means to try out, to prove, or to test. An
expert is one who has had experience, for he has tried things and proven by testing what works. An
experiment is the testing to see if a theory is real and can be proven. Each of these words have the
same meaning. Paul here in Acts 22 is an expert witness on his own behalf as he defends himself
before an angry mob that wants him dead. His defense is not an armchair, ivory tower, theology thathe has reasoned out. His defense for being a Christian and a lover of Gentiles is his experience with
the living Christ. Paul did not study and reason his way into the church. He was dragged in, and in
his testimony he makes it clear that he is a Christian, not by any design of his own, but by the
sovereign design of Christ who chose him.
Paul's cataclysmic conversion is probably the most famous conversion in all of history. It was not
only a turning point in Paul's life, but in the life of the Christian church. From this point on
Christians would be moving out into the Gentile world, and they would no longer be confined as a
movement within Judaism. In this message we want to look at this event from the point of view of
what it has to say about Christian experience.
EXPERIENCE IS PERSONAL.
This is Paul's personal testimony, and it fits nobody else in all of history. As far as the record
goes, nobody else on this planet was every converted by getting knocked to the ground and blinded
by the presence of Christ. What happened to Paul was a once in a history experience. It falls into the
1. Moses at the burning bush. Nobody else has ever seen God in a burning bush.
2. Adam walking with God in the garden.
3. Daniel in the lion's den.
4. Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace.
5. Jonah in the belly of the whale.
The point is, there are all kinds of things that happen in this world that are unique and personal.
They are not commonplace experiences that happen every day. God does not punch out people with
a cookie cutter making them all alike, as if they were parts of a machine on an assembly line. People
can have a lot in common, but every one of us is unique. God threw the mold away after making us,
and not just the very unusual person. All of us have so much in common even with Paul. We have
two eyes, two legs, and two arms, and we could go on and on with the list of the many things that we
have in common. The ways we are like Paul could fill a book. Nevertheless, he was unique and
different from us all, and from all the other Apostles. It is his radical difference that calls our
attention to the fact that experience is so personal.
How we respond to our distinctiveness is the key to our self-image and our happiness as