Summary: In this second sermon on the life of Paul, I continue to use Charles Swindoll's book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit. This sermon is about Saul's conversion.
A. Once there was a woman who testified to the conversion and transformation in her life that had resulted from becoming a Christian.
1. She declared, “I’m so glad I became a Christian. Before I became a Christian I used to hate my uncle so much I vowed I’d never go to his funeral. But now that I’m a Christian, why, I’d be happy to go to his funeral any time!”
2. Hopefully our conversion and transformation is a little more complete and consequential than that of that lady.
B. Sensational conversions are always so inspiring - Let me tell you the story of Jim Vaus.
1. In the 1940s, Jim was a gangster who was deeply involved in all kinds of organized crime.
a. He eventually agreed to work with the Los Angeles Police Department to help search out members of the growing crime network.
b. After years of being under the constant stress of living a double life, Vaus faced his own misery and emptiness.
2. Vaus decided to attend a Billy Graham tent crusade being held by the young evangelist in downtown Los Angeles.
a. Amidst a crowd of over six thousand people, Jim Vaus grasped for the first time the message of God’s grace and forgiveness.
b. According to an article printed in The Los Angeles Times, the notorious mobster rose to his feet and “walked the sawdust trail” to respond to the invitation.
c. Literally in the shadow of young Billy Graham, Vaus knelt there weeping in the dust as he declared his desire to surrender his life to Christ.
3. Who would have thought that a infamous gangster like him would become a follower of Jesus?
C. Another amazing conversion story is the story of Chuck Colson.
1. In the political world of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Chuck Colson was known as President Nixon’s hatchet man.
a. Colson performed the behind-the-scenes dirty work for Richard Nixon, his boss and friend.
b. Someone once described Colson this way: “Chuck is the kind of guy who would run over his grandmother if necessary to get the job done.”
2. Chuck’s rapid ascent to political power and stature brought with it all kinds of pressures.
a. Add to that the pain of a failed marriage, and Colson found himself at a crisis point.
b. As the Watergate tangle intensified, Colson descended deep into despair and began to search for peace.
c. By late 1972, after Nixon had been reelected, Colson resigned as Special Counsel to the President and tried to retreat into private life.
3. In 1973, Colson visited a friend named Tom Phillips, who was a believer.
a. Phillips confronted Colson with the gospel and read him this portion from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
b. Later that night, Colson sat in his car in the dark and the iron grip on his emotions began to relax and he sobbed.
c. At that time, Colson did surrender his life to God and begin living as a believer.
4. In 1974, Colson served seven months in Maxwell Federal Prison in Alabama as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.
5. Colson’s mid-life conversion sparked a radical life change that led to the founding of his non-profit ministry Prison Fellowship and to a focus on Christian worldview teaching and training.
a. Colson became a public speaker and the author of more than 30 books about Christianity and societal Issues.
b. He was the founder and chairman of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and his daily radio commentary, BreakPoint, was heard on more than 1,400 outlets across the United States.
6. His story is just another amazing conversion of a notorious sinner.
D. Thankfully, amazing conversions of notorious sinners happen all the time!
1. Conversion happens to dogmatic atheists and determined agnostics.
2. Conversion happens to gifted physicians and brilliant scientists.
3. Conversion happens to popular coaches and superstar athletes.
4. Conversion happens to famous musicians and renowned artists.
5. Conversion happens to former criminals and everyday sinners.
6. One by one, these unique individuals get to the end of life’s rope and when confronted with the claims and hope of the gospel, they believe and turn to the Lord.
7. Their lives, in a matter of moments, are transformed.
E. When well-known individuals convert to Christ, the public often responds with either amazement or skepticism.
1. The question that looms is: Has the person really converted and will it stick?
2. What we must keep in mind is that there is a difference between conversion and maturity.
3. The late Alan Redpath, longtime preacher and author, put it best: “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.”