Paul was advantaged, intelligent, and well-educated. He had every reason to embrace Jesus, but chose to oppose him. In Galatians 1:13, Paul confesses, “I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.”
A few years later, Paul describes his pre-salvation self in Philippians 3:5-6 as: “A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”
Even a combative, anti-Christian like Paul ultimately accepted Jesus Christ. Paul’s conversion story, found in Acts 9:1-31, reveals the following important lessons for today’s Christian.
Paul was at his worst when he accepted Christ.
Acts 9:1-2 says:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
Jesus says in John 15:25, “They hated me without reason.”
No person, no matter how lost, is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ. The most sinful or most anti-Christian person you work with may be the very one who is closest to accepting Jesus. What, on the outside, is rejection of Christ may be the result of Spirit-led conviction on the inside.
Don’t give up on the lost in your midst. Remain faithful and exercise discernment as you witness to your co-workers and others. Paul’s conversion demonstrates the power of Jesus to change all lives for the better, even the most radical.
Paul was converted on a roadside, not in a church.
Acts 9:3 says that Paul accepted Christ “As he neared Damascus on his journey.” The work of leading others to Christ is not confined to professional clergy and church services.
Jesus was a marketplace minister and so are you. Any person can receive Jesus Christ anywhere, anytime, and in any circumstance. Second Corinthians 6:2 says, “Now is the day of salvation.”
Paul’s conversion was unexpected.
Acts 9:26 tells us, “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem were skeptical of Paul’s salvation at first. In the eyes of some, Paul was a most unlikely candidate for conversion, but not so with God.
God’s ways defy the world and he is full of surprises. Remember that Paul did not convert himself, nor did another person. The Holy Spirit converted Paul. God can do the unexpected—his ways are other-worldly and supernatural.
Paul became an evangelist for Jesus Christ.
Paul went from speaking murderous, anti-Christian threats in Acts 9:1 to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Acts 9:20, which reads, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.”
No person is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ.