- In Acts 9, Saul appears as the archenemy of the church. Why was he obsessed with hatred for Christians? They loved God and others and filled with joy and peace. What was the problem? It was their message. They were telling everybody that Jesus was alive, that He had risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Saul refused to believe that. He was convinced that the body of Jesus was rotting away in a hidden grave somewhere. Those lies about a resurrected Jesus had to be stopped and he was going to do that.
- But we know the rest of the story. Saul the Persecutor become Paul the Apostle. His life is an illustration of conversion. Chapter 9 shows his conversion. It can be outlined by the three people he encountered.
Paul & the Lord
On his way to Damascus, a bright light appeared, he fell to the ground, and the Lord Jesus appeared to Him (v. 3-6). Imagine Saul’s dilemma. If this was really Jesus, everything he believed was wrong. Everything he had done was misguided. The One whom he knew to be rotting away in a hidden grave had suddenly appeared to him from heaven, alive and well. He was blinded physically, just as he had been blind spiritually. In his physical blindness, he began to see clearly spiritually. If this was true, all his life would change. His encounter with the risen Lord would change his ambition, his family, his friends, his position, his prestige, his power, wealth, honor, comfort, even his understanding of God’s Word and religion. Finally, he settled the issue. He made his choice. Later he explained it to the Philippians (Phil. 3:7-9).
Paul & Ananias
As Saul was wrestling with his decision to follow Christ, the Lord was speaking to Ananias (v. 10-16). Who was Ananias? All we know is that he was a disciple. If we heard that the biggest enemy of Christianity was sitting in a hotel room in our city considering the claims of Christ, whom would we send to talk to him? In all likelihood we would select a well-known individual whose reputation and position in the church would be fitting for such a task. But not the Lord. His strategy is to use us all, from the least to the greatest. Ananias was apprehensive about the Lord’s command. He had heard much about Saul and his persecution of Christians. So naturally Ananias wanted to consider his assignment carefully to confirm what he Lord wanted and to be sure that he was the man for the job. Like Moses, he was hesitant to obey. Or Jonah, Jeremiah, and Gideon. But thank God for His love and patience with us. God knows our weakness, but if we are willing to obey, He is willing to use us as He used Ananias.
In chapter 9 is we find two ‘unknowns’(Ananias and Dorcas) in a chapter devoted to one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. At the close of chapter 9, Peter received an urgent message to go to Joppa because an important disciple had died – Dorcas. Why was she so important to the church? Because she served the believers. She made robes and clothing for them (v. 39). Here is an interesting lesson for us. Not everyone is called to be in the limelight – like Saul (Paul) and Peter. Some of us will work behind the scenes serving others. Why were the disciples in Joppa so upset over Dorcas’ death? Because it is hard to find someone like her. So god used Peter to raise Dorcas from the dead and she continued to minister to others. ‘This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord’ (v. 42).
Paul & Jews
After many days in Damascus Saul went to Jerusalem to join the disciples there, but ‘they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him in and brought him to the apostles’ (v. 26-27). It is interesting to observe that Saul’s first act was to go to the people who had stoned Stephen and take up the ministry of the man he had seen martyred. Saul ‘moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him’ (v. 28-29). Stephen’s ministry had made a lasting impression on Saul. So Saul went to this same group of Grecian Jews and resumed Stephen’s ministry. Saul returned to make amends for his past sin. He knew they would plan to kill him, but he was prepared to die.
How to Change…
Revelation (v. 1-5)
The Bible tells us that ‘everyone does that which is right in his own eyes.’ And until they hear God’s take on their life, they will continue to do life the best they can… just like Saul. That is why we all need to hear God’s Word and understand the truth of the direction of our life. Saul heard the truth straight from Jesus
Repentance (v. 6-7)
In his conversation with Jesus, Saul used the word ‘Lord’ twice. God had put Jesus on the throne of the universe; Saul put Him on the throne of his heart. From henceforth Jesus was Lord in Saul’s heart, mind, soul, and will. The old Saul died. The new Saul stood in Christ. Jesus was Savior and Lord of his life.
Resolution (v. 8-19)
Saul needed another believer to come to his aid during his early steps as a believer in Jesus Christ. This demonstrates for us the necessity of follow-up for new believers. Despite his concerns, Ananias was still obedient to God’s instruction to come to the spiritual aid of Saul. As a result, Saul took the first steps on the road that would lead him across the Roman Empire preaching the Gospel.
Revolution (v. 20)
Saul began to preach the Gospel. He went to the synagogue so that he might preach the truth about Jesus to his Jewish kinsmen. His message – Jesus is the Son of God. Describing Jesus as the ‘Son of god’ had 3 implications: (1) it spoke of Jesus’ intimate and unique relationship with God the Father; 92) it placed Jesus in the kingly line of David; 93) it identified Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. Saul knew that Jesus was alive, that Jesus was God’s Son, and that Jesus was the Messiah. Saul was completely changed.
Relentlessness (v. 21-22)
The change in Saul caused his hearers to be amazed. They had expected Saul to begin arresting followers of Jesus. But here was this enemy of Christianity preaching the Christian message. Saul continued to grow in his Christian life. His understanding of Jesus caused him to become even more powerful in his preaching.
God never changes but He is constantly calling for change in our lives.
Change is a natural thing in creation. Everything living is in constant change. We can change for the better or for the worse. Christians likewise need to change for the better. Some good reasons to continue to grow in our Christian life: to realize our full potential, to have fulfillment in life, to overcome and live a victorious life.