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?”Acts 9:1-4
The Apostle Paul, Converted by Christ
This morning, we are going to be covering the most remarkable, impactful conversion story in all of scripture with the conversion of Saul. Part of what makes it so impactful is the way in which it happened. It is not your average story of someone coming to Christ. Most people don’t see bright lights and get knocked off of their horse and hear the very voice of Jesus, but Saul did. Another thing that makes it resonate so deeply is the vast difference we see in the character of Saul between the opening verses of chapter 9 and verse 20 where we will leave off today. Saul is absolutely transformed into a totally different person in just 20 short verses.
When God Calls…
God changes our lives and the lives of those around us through his irresistible Grace by…
- A Call To Christ – God saves us. He changes our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of ﬂesh according to Ezekiel. He calls us with an effectual calling — an inner calling that happens after the outward call of the gospel.
- A Call to Service – God will put you in places you never even imagined you would be sometimes, if you live in obedience to him. And he will equip you to accomplish what he has put inside of you to do.
- A Call to the Gospel Ministry – Once God changes your heart, the natural next step is to share the gospel. It might be missions, parachurch ministry, or just plugging in to a need in your local church body, but He will use you to reach out to others!
John Newton, Another Amazing Transformation
Many of you will know the name ‘John Newton’ as the name of the guy who wrote the wonderful old hymn, Amazing Grace. What you may not know about John Newton is that he was not always the devoted follower of Christ that he became later on. Because, you see, Newton started out his adult life by going to sea. He spent much of his early years, like a lot of others who went to sea, in debauchery and rebellion. For a number of years, he worked on slave ships–capturing slaves in Africa to be sold in America. At one point, he sunk so low that he had to become a slave himself to the captive of another slave trader. Eventually, he went on to captain his own slave ship.
Storm at Sea…
But the combination of a very frightening storm at sea, and his reading of Thomas A Kempis book “The Imitation of Christ” planted the seeds of conversion in his heart. Newton then went on to become a leader of the evangelical movement in eighteenth century England along with John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield and William Wilberforce. On his tombstone is written this epitaph written by himself, “John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.”
How Has Your Life Been Transformed?
How has God transformed your own life today? How is He bringing beauty from the ashes of what you once were? I’ll tell you church–God is moving in our midst. Make no mistake about it. I have spoken to so many of you who have had a fire lit under you lately about something or another. God is moving among us in your lives to be in service for Him. And you need to know, this morning, that it is happening on a wide scale here in our midst. Whatever it is with you, take a moment to recognize what God is doing in your own life. Take a moment to thank Him for using you.