Happenings around Antioch

Paul the Apostle…and You

It has been stated by many that the two greatest proofs for the Christian faith are the resurrection of Christ and the conversion of Saul. You just cannot explain away the resurrection. Millions have tried, and no one has succeeded. You also cannot explain away the absolute about-face in the life of Saul. It is the most famous conversion story in church history, and the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, is the most influential person in church history, with the obvious exception of Jesus.

Saul’s conversion is also the most unique in history. Think about the story in Acts 9 and what happened that day with Saul. What do we know for sure that does not have to happen in order for people to be saved? A blinding light from heaven. Falling on the ground. Hearing your name spoken from heaven, out loud. Having the resurrected Jesus appear to you. Being commissioned as an apostle. Being blinded for three days. Further in the text: scales falling from your eyes when someone sent from God lays hands on you and prays. If that were the litmus test for salvation, or if any of those were required for salvation, I daresay that none of us would be eligible for heaven.


What are the common elements that we all share with Paul in his conversion?

First, you must have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Salvation is not mediated through a priest, or a parent. You may have heard it said that God has no grandchildren, only children.


Second, you have surrendered to him, through repentance and faith, which is a gift of God.


Third, we have received His “summons to serve,” to use John Stott’s phrase. No one who is saved is merely an acquaintance of Jesus. “Jesus? Oh, yes, I know Him. I mean, I met Him once. Wonderful man. Great words. Love that Sermon on the Mount!”

No! Rather it’s like, “Jesus? He is my Savior and Lord. He bought me with a price. I loved him because he first loved me. I am his. Wherever he sends, I will go. Whatever he says, I will do.” That was Paul’s heart attitude after his encounter with Jesus.

Why was Saul persecuting the church? Why was he breathing murderous threats? Was it because the church sang awesome songs, listened to interesting talks, and got together to think about how to improve themselves and help others? No. Saul knew the church perhaps better than we do. He knew that if they were right, and that Jesus really was the Messiah and that salvation comes not through works of righteousness but by grace through faith, then his whole life was a pile of rubbish! That’s what he said in Philippians 3. He said that he had more reason before he met Christ to boast in the flesh than any man. But after Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus, Paul sang a different tune: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”

You and I can meet the light of the world anytime, in the Bible. And in the lives of people who truly know him. When we do, then our lives become further proof for the Christian faith.