God used Saul of Tarsus as an example of how one is adopted into God’s family. Acts 9, 22, and 26 record Saul’s conversion. God was providing a way to measure ourselves, to see if indeed we are in the faith. Saul of Tarsus was an enemy of God and God revealed Himself to Saul in such a way that Saul responded in faith. That is the way of salvation for everyone. The Pharisees were the proudest of the proud.
They considered themselves better than all others, the only ones who knew and obeyed the truth. Paul considered himself to be the Pharisee of Pharisees. When Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road and he fell to the ground, he fell as maybe the most arrogant man on the face of the earth. When he hit the ground, he hit as one who had truly been humbled. All three accounts tell us explicitly that Saul’s first words were, “Who are You Lord?” Before this, Saul would have called no one Lord.
It is no coincidence that Christ answered Saul by identifying Himself as Jesus the Nazarene (Acts 22). Nazareth and northern Galilee had a bad reputation. Even Nathanael, prior to becoming a disciple, was hesitant to meet Jesus because He was from Nazareth. In Acts 24, the high priest brought a lawyer named Tertullus to question Saul. Tertullus called Paul the “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Lying blind on the road to Damascus, Saul immediately knew that he was going to be called to identify with the lowly and despised of the world. This revelation of Christ would not bring him respectability or honor or power. One of the great dangers of modern America is that many have joined the church without coming to Christ. Often they believe that membership in the church will bring respectability, customers to their business, etc. Coming to Christ; being saved, means truly realizing that Christ is Lord. Saul found that out and so must every person in order to be saved.
Just in case Saul did not fully understand, Christ rendered him blind.It would be temporary but Saul did not know that at first. I suppose that blindness must be as good an illustration of helplessness that could ever be. Saul later recounts being led around by the hand. What a humbling experience that must have been. A proud, arrogant Pharisee on his way to Damascus with all the blessing of Israel and the permission of Rome rendered blind and helpless. If that were not enough, the first thing Saul would see when his sight was restored was Ananias, who was one of his intended victims. God showed Saul a powerful illustration of the importance of the corporate body, the church. God would restore Saul’s sight through the laying on of hands by one he had come to arrest or kill.
Salvation comes in this manner for everyone. Christ reveals Himself to us. We respond to that revelation in faith. We encounter Christ as a proud one thinking we are self-sufficient. We emerge from that encounter professing Christ as Lord. We are quickly humbled and introduced to the body of Christ, added to the church. We find ourselves dependent on our brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have the same Head, which is Christ. Thus my brother and I have the same mind and the same will. The record of Saul’s salvation given in Acts 9, 22, and 26 is not given so you can know Saul but rather so that you can know God and know yourself. This record is given so that you can examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.