The Conversion of Saul
Years ago in England there were 2 brilliant antagonists of the Christian faith: Lord Lyttelton and Gilbert West. They set as their life’s ambition to try to destroy Christianity. They were friends. They believed that if they could disprove 2 claims of Christianity, they could destroy people’s faith in it.
The resurrection…and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Each chose one of these and did research to try to discredit it. They parted and began separately. Months later they came back together and found that each of them independent of one another had in the course of study become a born again Christian!
Lyttelton had studied Saul, and he later wrote: “The conversion and apostleship of Paul alone duly considered, is of itself, a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity and to be a divine revelation.”
He got it right!
And as we study about Paul we study the soul-saving power of the true gospel of Christ, who enables each of us to see the light! [artist rendering]
If you were among the early Christians, just after Christ's crucifixion & resurrection, the name "Saul" would bring fear….
Saul wanted Christianity destroyed
Traveled far & wide to make it happen
Gave approval for most brutal of deaths
BUT IN ACTS 9…Saul was blinded by unbelief, then he was blinded by the light of Christ before he was converted. He became a trophy of God’s grace. Some call Saul’s conversion “the most important conversion in history” since millions upon millions of Christians trace their spiritual roots to him.
God took a persecutor and made him an apostle
…a staunch defender of the law became a preacher of GRACE.
…he called himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews, but became the voice unto the Gentiles!
As we spoke of last week, there is great truth in II Cor. 5:17, say it w/ me…
2 Cor. 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [he said it!]
Ill.—lady leaving beauty shop, passed another lady who said, Mary Smith, I haven’t seen you in years, my how you’ve changed…slimmed down, hair different, clothing style, what a difference Mary!
She replied, the name is Martha Jones…
“Well, you’ve even changed your name!”
Saul was so radically changed that God even changed his name! It was like he was on something! A Spiritual LSD let’s call it!
1. Saul received a new Lord.
Up ‘til now, his lord was power, prestige, and persecution.
v. 6 called Lord 9 X’s more in rest of passage!
Just 5 seconds w/ Christ and this man Saul is under new management!
Not just receive Him as Savior, but as Lord [boss/master and commander/leader to follow!], then sanctification is when you allow Him to become Lord of every area of your life.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
2. Saul received new Sight.
v. 18 this literally happened in the physical realm, but it’s meant to illustrate what happens to us in the spiritual realm. Some sit in pews for years waiting to be saved until they see it clearly, not realizing they won’t see clearly until they get saved!
1 Cor. 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The world is lost in spiritual blindness…
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness…
The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
Jesus quoted Is, Jer., and Ezek. In…
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
But, Paul knew their problem…
2 Cor. 3:14
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
2 Cor. 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Tim. 3:7
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Even Christians can be spiritually blinded…
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
[after vv. 5-8 tell us to grow in Christ it says in…]
2 Peter 1:9
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
1 John 1:6
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 2:9, 11
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
Prophetic of our age, Jesus said to end-times church:
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
In those 3 days of blindness Saul had time to think…
He realized Jesus was alive [he had heard the claims but didn’t believe]
…Jesus is the Messiah, because the scales fell off his eyes! They were opened!
When the scales fall off the pervert begins to see his sin as God sees it!
…drunk recognizes his problem/thief understands his plight!/liar/cheater
Education isn’t the answer, just leads to a smarter pervert/thief…you can change the mind all you want but until the heart is changed they’re still blind!
Saul got saved and went away to Arabia [show map] to study for 3 years. He had read the OT dozens of times, but when he reread the OT, he saw Jesus on every page…He read about the lamb on the brazen altar and he saw Jesus! When he saw the priest washing his hands at the laver he saw Jesus, the water of life. When he read of the holy place and saw the lampstand he thought of Jesus, the light of the world. When he turned to the table of showbread he saw Jesus, the bread of life! He caught a whiff of the altar of incense and realized Jesus was his high priest ever making intercession for him as a believer! He went to Arabia w/ his OT in his knapsack and came out w/ the book of Romans in his heart! And God used him to pen the plan of salvation clearly because the scales had fallen off…he once was lost but now was found, was blind but now can see…he once was Saul but now is Paul!
New Lord, New Sight…[LSD]
3. He received a new Dynamic.
v. 20, 22, 29 All in a matter of days!
In v. 1 he was an animal “breathing” [picture of a bull]
God got his attention and touched him and tamed him in an instant!
“A Trophy of Grace.” Paul always regarded himself as a brand plucked from the burning fire. He described himself as the chief of sinners (I Tim.1.15), less than the least of all saints (Eph. 3.8), the least of the apostles, and not meet [fit] to be an apostle (I Cor.15.9), nothing (2 Cor. 12 .11).
You can be changed like that too…just do what Saul did as you face God today…say, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
What you surrender He’ll take, and what He takes, He cleanses, and what He cleanses He fills, and what He fills He uses!
Becoming a Christian isn’t like a tadpole becoming a frog…a long process in which it changes, but is still basically the same thing in a different form…rather it’s more like a frog receiving the kiss of grace, and becoming a prince…and child of the king…old things passed away, all things become new!
Joke—old man fishing heard voice which said, look down here…it was a frog…said, kiss me and I’ll become a beautiful princess…he put it in his pocket and continued on… “hey, didn’t you hear me, kiss me and I’ll become a beautiful princess!”
“Honestly, at my age, I’d rather have a talkin’ frog!”
The voice of the Lord is confronting some today on your road, and He’s been trying to get your attention…He has great changes and wonderful things in store if you’ll listen, close your eyes to this world and let him show you what He has for you!
Nearly 40 years ago Billy Graham was conducting a crusade in LA, and a man named Stuart Hamblin got saved [show pic]…a cowboy actor/singer who worked w/ the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne. He went to John Wayne and told him he got saved. John congratulated him. Stuart then tried to witness to John, and said, “it’s no secret what God can do, what he’s done for others, he’ll do for you”…John said, that’s beautiful, you ought to turn that into a song.
John Wayne didn’t get saved, but we still sing the song Stuart wrote.
And today I say, it is no secret what God can do…what He did for Saul, he’ll do for you…He’ll give you a new Lord, new sight, a new dynamic life, and a new power for living!
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