The past couple of days I’ve been thinking about the Apostle Paul’s conversion experience. You can read it in Acts 9, 22, or Acts 26. My favorite is the Acts 9 section. Up to this point, the Scriptures paint a picture of Saul of Tarsus as a man who was pursuing Believers with a Hitler-like deterimination. He would rip men and women from their homes, arrest them, and lead them back to Jerusalem, where he would probably kill them, as he had done before. If you were a follower of Jesus living anywhere near Jerusalem, you wouldn’t want to hear Saul’s knock at your door. It would be like opening your door to Adolph Hitler.
But then something amazing happens. On Saul’s way to Damascus, the Lord appears to him, speaks to his heart and mind, and Saul’s view of reality changes. He now knows that Jesus is indeed Risen, and is the Lord of all, including him. At that moment, Jesus saved Saul of Tarsus. A man who wasn’t looking for Jesus. A man who was a violent persecutor of the Church. A man who had blood on his hands. A man who deserved God’s wrath, yet recieved God’s grace.
If you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God, then how do you explain Saul of Tarsus? I can see you explaining away Peter and John, because they were with Christ during His earthly life, but how do you explain Saul becoming Paul? Here’s a man who had everything going for him, if anyone had reason for confidence in the flesh, Saul was it.
He wrote later, “I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the trible of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church, as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes fcrom God and is by faith (Philippians 3:4-9).”
In a matter of days Paul lost all things-prestige, power, his degrees, and probably his wife, yet he considered them all rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the major miracles in the New Testament, and there’s no other reason for it, other than the reality that Jesus is the Son of God. He is divine. He has the power and the desire to save people.