But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Last year you may remember all the hype and excitement about the eclipse. Everyone was selling “eclipse approved” eye shields so we could look directly at the sun and see the movement of the moon to block the sun. Many warnings were issued for viewers to use the proper visor shields. Acts 9 gives us a detailed account of Saul’s conversion. Saul saw such a bright light he lost his sight. I don’t think the approved sun shields would have done Paul any good, because the light he saw radiated from the throne of God. One thing is certain, this encounter with Christ would forever change the way Saul would see things!
There has probably never been a church leader so instrumental to Christianity as Saul (later Paul) of Tarsus. Saul had extraordinary training in the Old Testament law. His Jewish background was second to none. A Pharisee of the strictest sense, of the tribe of Benjamin and trained by Gamaliel (Acts 22:3-5). Saul had all the needed religious training and credentials for his time to carry out his wishes and those of the religious rulers. Saul was so zealous for the law that he would hunt down those who were of “the way” (Christians) and have them imprisoned. Saul was so tenacious that even the apostles were afraid of him (v26). Even after instructed by Christ, Ananias was hesitant to go to Saul (v13-14). Saul had put fear into the hearts of the saints. It seems the only one not afraid of Saul was our Lord Jesus who had other plans for him. It was this man, chosen by Christ, that was mightily used to spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
“Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else
thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on
the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of
Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as
to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
As Christians today, we have a lot to be thankful for because of the Holy Spirit’s work through Paul. It is through Paul’s letters that we learn such fundamental doctrines such as:
- Justification by faith through grace (Rom. 5:1-2)
- Reconciliation to God through Christ (Rom. 5:10-11)
- Forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14)
- Perseverance of the saints (Phil. 1:6, Rom 8:38-39)
- Christ’s return (1 Thes. 4:16-17)
Just like Paul, before conversion, we were blind and dead in our sins. Faith in Christ gives us “new” sight and a new purpose for living. Paul’s prayer in his letter to the Ephesians sums it up best.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom
every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according
to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened
with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted
and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with
all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and
depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”