Summary: Paul's encounter with the Lord brought about a radical transformation in his life. He began a walk of faith with the Lord that offered hope and assurance of eternal life. Of all the walks one takes with the Lord by faith, salvation is by far the best.
Series: Walking by Faith # 6
The Conversion of Paul
Acts 9: 1-9
Over the past several weeks we have considered various accounts of those who walked by faith and received the abundance of the Lord. Our text today also reveals a walk of faith. While this encounter is much different than the previous accounts we’ve considered, it was a walk of pure faith also. In fact, I believe this account of faith deals with the greatest journey one can take by faith.
We have read of man by the name of Saul. You are probably more familiar with the new name he was given – Paul, the great apostle of Christ. The verses we have read deal with the encounter Paul had with Christ, leading to his salvation by faith. As we will discover, Paul was forced to abandon much he held dear in this life in order to receive salvation. His obedience in salvation was the beginning of a long and prosperous ministry for the Lord. His conversion offers hope for all who stand in need of salvation.
As we conclude our series today, I want to examine stages of this walk of faith while considering: The Conversion of Paul.
I. A Time of Delusion (1-2) – These opening verses reveal the state of delusion Paul lived in prior to his conversion in Christ. While particular circumstances vary, all are in a state of delusion apart from salvation in Christ. Notice:
A. The Persecution (1) – And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest. Prior to his salvation, Paul was a man who promoted and encouraged violence against all who professed Christ. He was a devout Pharisee, viewing those who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ as promoters of heresy against the Word of God. He was committed to doing all he could to hinder and destroy the promotion of the Gospel. He was present when Stephen was stoned, consenting to his horrific death. At this moment, he continues to threaten those who profess Jesus as the Christ, seeking not only their punishment, but their death as well. Paul was opposed to anything connected to Christ and the Gospel.
While the average unbeliever is not as violent as Paul was in opposing the Gospel, prior to salvation, we too rejected Christ and had no desire for any fellowship with the church. We wanted nothing to do with this man named Jesus or those who sought to serve Him. There was little compassion or support for those who professed Christ.
B. The Pursuit (2) – And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Working in conjunction with the high priest in Jerusalem, Paul sought to prosecute believers wherever he could find them. He was not content with efforts to prevent the spread of Christianity in Jerusalem; he wanted the Gospel message removed from the world. Having permission from the high priest, Paul is making his way to Damascus, hoping to find those who professed Christ there. He intended to arrest them for their faith, and bring them to Jerusalem to stand trial.
Satan is committed to working against the church wherever she exists. He has those who seek to hinder and defeat the work of the Gospel throughout the world. Countless people are being used of Satan, persecuting the church and all who profess Christ.
Keep in mind that Paul was devoutly religious. He actually thought he was sincerely committed to the work of the Lord. Organized religion is often one of the greatest hindrances and sources of opposition to salvation. Many religious people believe they have all they need. They are depending on their works for acceptance to God. Religion cannot save. Salvation requires a personal relationship with Christ!
II. A Time of Conviction (3-5) – Here we discover Paul’s initial encounter with the Lord, leading to conviction of his lost condition. Consider:
A. The Illumination (3) – And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. As Paul made his way to Damascus, he encountered a great light from heaven. Paul would later testify this happened around noon. As he journeyed, the Lord appeared unto him with a great light that shined brighter than the noon-day sun. The Lord was determined to get the attention of Paul.
This is always the beginning stage of one’s salvation. The Lord will illuminate our path, revealing our sinful ways and need for Him. It is impossible to receive salvation apart from an awareness of our depravity and need for Christ.
B. The Confrontation (4) – And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? As Paul encountered this great light, he heard a voice confronting him in regard to his persecution. The Lord wanted Paul to understand that his persecution of believers was a direct attack on Him as well. Paul was confronted about his sinful ways.