I love to read the writings of the Apostle Paul. Here is an example of a person radically changed by the love of Christ. Following his Damascus Road transformation, he was willfully consumed  by the task of proclaiming the Good News. But to appreciate Paul’s new found attitude, we have to remember who Paul was before that extraordinary day.

Paul, formerly named Saul, was a Pharisee. This means he was not an ordinary Jewish citizen, but in fact a well-educated, highly intelligent student of the scripture. He knew the written laws of God intimately and would have strictly followed them from an early age. Yet, he lacked genuine knowledge of the Word made flesh.

Saul began his life as one of the most notorious characters of the Bible. Not only did he once hate the Church and all it stood for, he was determined to drive Christ followers out from among the Jewish people. He believed it was his responsibility to jail them, to terrorize them, and even murder them in the name of righteousness. He was someone to fear and someone far from Christ.

Then something miraculous happened –Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. In His grace and mercy, Jesus did not do to Saul what Saul had done to others. Instead, He speaks to Saul in a tone of offered forgiveness.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9:3-4 NIV

Why would Jesus meet with Saul one-on-one? Why would He give Saul a chance to explain?

I draw a few things from this scene:

  1. Jesus knew Saul even if Saul didn’t know Jesus –In the same way, Jesus knows each of us, even before coming to a saving knowledge of Christ. He knows our personalities, our likes and dislikes, our high moments and our shortcomings.
  2. Jesus had followed Saul’s activity. –What we do is no surprise to Jesus. Before we have the thought, He already knows how we will react and the choice(s) we will make.
  3. Jesus saw Saul’s potential. –Saul was passionate in his mission, albeit misguided. Jesus knew Saul, whose name changed to Paul after this experience, had the fight, the grit, the determination that would propel the gospel further than it had been to date. Paul would almost single-handedly take the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 NIV

Although the people of Israel would see the Light walking among them, they would not recognize Him. Paul, however, would have an upfront and personal encounter with the Light and be forever changed. I often wonder if this scripture passage from Isaiah came back to Paul during his experience.

Paul would indeed make the most of his new-found faith. He would travel farther than the original disciples, he would write more of the New Testament, and he would love the Church more than anyone.

From Paul we get these scriptures:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 NIV

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NLT

The one who persecuted would become the one who praises.

A once darken mind would become brilliantly lit.

The proud would become extremely humble.

The self-righteous would become truly righteous.

The sinner would become a saint.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT

Paul’s entire life is full of everyday lessons we can each learn from. Take the time today to find the one that speaks to you the most. Paul wrote it all down … for you!

 


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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