25 minutes | Dec 13th 2019

048 – The Conversion of Saul

The Conversion of Saul - Aelbert Cuyp - Cicra 1646 As we move forward in the Book of Acts, the next conversion we encounter is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. For a time, Saul was the number one persecutor of the church; then God has a little impromptu meeting with him on a dusty Damascus road. As a result, Saul becomes the number one supporter of the church and goes on to write three quarters of the New Testament as the Apostle Paul! If there is any conversion crafted to convince us that even the worst of sinners can repent and become a follower of Jesus, the conversion of Saul should stand as a colossal encouragement. It is possible for anyone to become a Christian. Saul's Conversion Cubed The conversion of Saul of Tarsus, from a Biblical perspective, is unique, in that we hear the story of his conversion presented three times. This is helpful when we knit all three of these stories together in order to get a complete composite of the entire event. We can’t read all three rehearsals, that would take too long. Acts 9 is the most complete presentation of the three so we will focus on that, then add anything missing using the other two accounts. For reference, let me show you where all three of these stories are located in the Bible. The first time we learn of Saul’s conversion is in Acts Chapter 9, Verses 1-23. In this narrative, Luke, the writer of Acts, tells the story from a third person perspective. He reports things which happened to Paul. Luke spent years with Paul on the various missionary journeys so undoubtedly, he would have been very well acquainted with Paul’s story. Next, in the book of Acts again, Luke retells the story but this time, it is from Paul’s perspective. Paul is telling the story to other people. This happens in Acts 22 after an aggressive mob is stirred to action in Jerusalem. Paul is arrested but permitted to address the crowd. In this Acts 22 version of the story, Paul recounts almost the entire event of his conversion again but, with some critical variations. Saul’s third and final conversion story is reported in Acts 26:12-23. During this presentation of his conversion, Paul is, once again, under arrest and is being extradited, eventually to Rome, but has a brief audience with a curious king named, Agrippa. Paul is given complete freedom to speak whatever he wants to Agrippa so he uses his conversion story as a springboard for presenting the Gospel. This version also includes some minor additions to the story which we will review as well. This is a fun lesson which I use often to help people see the Biblical Plan of Salvation. So, not only are we studying this out together, I wanted to show you how to lead this lesson in the hope you might use it and find it effective. I always begin by saying, “Let’s play a little game!” Let's Start a Quest We are on a quest. Our goal is to discover the exact instant Saul’s sins are forgiven by God. That particular point in time marks the exact moment a person is Born Again, right? Remember, one can not be a Christian unless they have received the forgiveness of sins — so using this event, the forgiveness of sins, we can determine conclusively when and where conversion happens. Let’s keep our eyes open for that event as we begin. Acts 9:1-22 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
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