Acts 9. Forum Discussion

The conversion of Paul

Could somebody who was famous and feared for persecuting Christians become a disciple of Jesus themselves? We do not have to look any further than Saul’s conversion to Christianity to answer that question.

Chapter 9 covers the conversion of Saul (Paul) from persecutor of Christians, to one of the central figures of Christianity. As Luke documents beginning in verse 1:

“Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” – Acts 9:1-6.

As we go through today’s lesson, we will be focusing on the conversion of Saul.  God had a plan for Saul’s conversion, just as He does for each of us. 

Of course, God’s plan will only work if we are humble enough, and wise enough to follow it. 

Jeremiah 29:11 says:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

If Saul did not listen to, and follow the words of Jesus, He never would have become the Apostle Paul.  If he did not put aside what he was doing and decide to follow God's plan for him, he never would have made all the contributions to the writing of the Bible that he did.  Saul's example is a powerful remind for us all to seek out God's plan for us, and then embrace it.   

There is little doubt that God’s plan took Saul by surprise.  Similarly, it is likely that His plan for us will not be what we are expecting either.  He may put us in situations that we never imagined ourselves being in, and He may bring people into our lives that we never expected would play such an important role in our conversion.  The key is to be receptive to God’s plan and embrace it.   

The prophet Isaiah said:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9.

Our all-powerful, and all-knowing God will do things for us that we never imagined, if we follow Him.  Think about Saul, and how he allowed God’s plan to work in his life.  He was on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians when God sent a light from heaven.  Luke writes that the light was so bright that Saul lost his sight for 3 days.

God brought the right people into Saul’s life at the right time.  Here in Acts Chapter 9, God uses Ananias to restore Saul’s eyesight. Ananias had reservations about meeting up with Saul because he knew of his reputation for persecuting Christians. However, Jesus said to Ananias in verses 15-16:

“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

There is a lot that we can learn from Saul’s conversion.  Consider the following points:

  1. Saul was willing to completely change his plans once God revealed his true purpose. 
  2. Ananias was ready and willing to do what Jesus asked of him. When Jesus called him in verse 10, Ananias replied, “Here I am Lord.” 
  3. Many times the people with the biggest transformation can have the biggest impact on the people around them. Luke writes of Saul in Acts 9:21-22, “All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”

As we think about God's plan for us, we are wise to ask ourselves the following three questions:

  1. Are we like Saul? Will we be willing to completely change our plans when God reveals what He wants us to do for Him?
  2. Are we ready to serve like Ananias was? When the Lord calls us will we also respond, “Here I am Lord?”
  3. Are we willing to use the transformation that God has in store for us to glorify Him?

We will end today's study with Jesus' words from Mathew 5:16. Jesus reminds us that our works are not for ourselves.  Our works are meant to glorify God.

Mathew 5:16 says:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Thank you for studying with us today!  Please join us again tomorrow as we look at Acts 10. We will be studying about angels.  May God’s blessings be upon you until then.  Amen

Comments

Michael

Short of our own "Damascus moment," we will probably not hear directly from Jesus instructions on what to do.

So we have to use what we do have, prayer, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit.

Prays for wisdom will always be answered, as long as we trust the wisdom that God provides - James 1:5-8.

The Bible will tell us in words what God wants us to do. The Holy Spirit will help us "feel it"

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Billy

Jesus may not talk to us as He did in this story, but He absolutely communicates with us. Through His word and through the Holy Spirit. If we are smart, we will listen to Him just as Paul did.

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