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Saul’s conversion was unlike any other conversion of a sinner into a saint. Saul did not say a prayer to accept Jesus into his life. No, Jesus did for Saul what He does for many whom He chooses – He came to Saul and saved them of His own decision (He did that for me because I was not searching for Him). Jesus decided that Saul, with his zealous nature for the Lord (even if it was the wrong kind of zealousness) would be better served helping Him instead of hindering the progress of the Gospel. That first step that Jesus took to convert Saul was not normative for most conversions. The normative aspects were Saul’s baptism into the church and the body of Christ; he was welcomed into the church by the disciples after being convinced that Saul was no longer a murderer of Christians; and Saul’s immediate desire to want to tell others the truth about Jesus being the risen Messiah. The aspects that were not normative were the lightening and blinding light just before Jesus appeared to Saul; the scales that suddenly covered Saul’s eyes because of the blinding light; and the appearance and direct conversation with the living Christ who had already ascended into Heaven to sit with God.
I believe that Jesus had to get Saul’s attention in the way that He did simply because Saul was hell-bent on killing and arresting Jesus’ followers because he felt that these followers were destroying everything Moses had built the nation of Israel to be. Saul felt that he was protecting God’s legacy for the nation. Jesus wanted to correct that vision in Saul’s mind and life. Saul left Jesus with no choice but to stop him in his tracks before he did anymore damage to the new church and even to himself as well. I believe that Jesus chose to let Saul live instead of ending his life because Jesus saw in Saul what He sees in all of us – the potential to lead others to Christ because of our zealous natures for His good news to get out to everyone. Most believers don’t have this kind of dramatic experience during their conversion because Jesus doesn’t always need to shock into being His follower. Most times, His still, small voice is all that is needed to bring seekers into His church, especially for those who are indeed seeking Him. For the rest of us who were not seeking, Jesus may need to be a little more forceful. Not forceful as in a “you’d-better-come-to-me-or-else” kind of way, but forceful as in wooing us to Him through others or through what He is doing in our own lives. For Saul, he needed to be forced if he was to fulfill the deeds that Jesus had for him to fulfill. Thank the Lord that Saul quickly realized who it was the he was talking to that day or the church may not grown as quickly as it had.
Question: “I think about my conversion; the conversion where I decided that I could never leave Him again. My big "kick in the butt" was in 1999 and I still did not follow all the way. It was in 2005 when my second wife had left me that I knew that I could not live without Him.”
Author Response: I know how you feel. God allowed me to have bladder cancer in 1992, when I was just 32 years old. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear that call, being so wrapped up in getting better. In 1998, during a suicide attempt after finding out that I had been sexually abused as a child through repressed memories, I stood up on my bed to jump out of the closed, paned window. Just as I was about to make that last muscle push, someone invisible gently grabbed my neck from behind, turned me towards the phone and said to me in a voice I heard loud and clear, “You’re time is not through here, yet. I need you here. Go call your sister.” I had no idea whose voice that was. It wasn’t until six months later, after my ex-wife and I split, did I fall on my face and give Jesus my life and I haven’t looked back since. I know that this was no Saul conversion, but it was the turning point in my life.
Question: “However, I love what Stott says, "What stands out from the narrative is the sovereign grace of God through Jesus Christ. Saul did not 'decide for Christ, as we might say." Christ intervened in Saul's life. Christ took control and revealed himself to Saul.”
Author Response: What amazes me about Saul is here is this man who hated Christians with every fiber of his being. But when he met the risen Christ, he freely accepted what Jesus was saying to him, and he quickly accepted the assignment that Jesus had for him to fulfill. Today, I look at people like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel and wonder why they had to investigate Christianity before either would give their lives to Jesus. They must have heard the call of Christ in order to even begin their investigations into the truth or else why start one? I guess that some of us need a little more than His still small voice to convince us that it is He who is calling us into His kingdom. For Saul, it took a little more than that; it took a shout for glory to get his attention. I guess that some of us are thicker hearted than others.
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