Persecutor to Preacher

Persecutor to Preacher

A single event is recorded three times in the book of Acts – the Holy Spirit wanted us to not miss its significance! The conversion of Saul of Tarsus can be read in Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26. Of interest, Acts 9 is given through the perspective of one who was not there, but accurately provides details of the event. In Acts 22 and 26, the perspective is first-hand, re-told by Paul himself, and tells exactly what happened and there is nothing that disagrees with what Luke records in chapter nine. Consider three words in connection to the conversion of Saul – later to be the Apostle Paul.

Crisis – Saul was in the business of persecuting followers of Jesus. With letters in hand from the high priest to the synagogue in Damascus, Saul’s mission was to bind men and women following Jesus and bring them to ‘justice’ in Jerusalem. In Paul’s words, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women…(I went to) Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished,” (Acts 22:4-5). How much crisis was he trying to cause followers of Jesus? “When they were put to death, I case my vote against them, I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme…exceedingly enraged against them…” (Acts 26:10- 11). With the crisis he caused, it had to take something (Someone) to make a tremendous impact to change his thinking and direction.

Christ – That Someone, of course, was Jesus Christ! On the road to Damascus, about 140 miles of difficult travel from Jerusalem, Jesus identified Himself to Saul. Out of the bright light that shone around him and those traveling with Him, Saul heard the words, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” (Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). Saul was the only one to actually see Jesus on this occasion, the others saw the light, but did not hear/understand the voice (Acts 22:9). Saul saw Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8) and because he did, he came to believe in Him (Acts 9:6-8). This encounter made the impact and brought about…

Change – Saul had been on his way to persecute those who called on the name of the Lord. Instead, HE was baptized, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). He was not saved on the road to Damascus, even after believing and making a confession of belief. He was saved after his sins were washed away in baptism. He was willing to repent, to make one of the biggest life changes that we see in all of Scripture. From Saul, the persecutor, we find, Paul, the preacher (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The only way to change crisis is Christ! As we look around and see more and more threats to followers of Jesus, may we never forget that the only way to bring about change is to help others see Christ. May we never fail to remember the power that is found in the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16)!

– Adam Orr


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