THE CONVERSION OF SAUL (PAUL)
“A MAN IN DARKNESS WHO SAW A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN”
BIBLE TEXT – READ (ACTS 26:8-29) – KEY TEXT (26:18)
In this message we will focus our attention on the verses in Acts, chapter 26, with an occasional reference to the other two Bible texts. By way of outline we will consider the following subjects:
1) THE COURSE OF PAUL
In (Acts 26:8), Paul directs a question to King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead”? Do you think that resurrection is too incredible to believe? More importantly, do you believe that Jesus Christ was raised again out from among the dead? According to the Bible, belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely essential for you to be saved. (Romans 10:9) “ That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, (that Jesus is Lord) and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”.
In (Acts 26:9-12) we have THE COURSE OF PAUL prior to his conversion. In verses 9 and 10 he says “I thought”, “I ought” and “I did”. It was all anti-Christ and anti-Christian. In verse 12 he says that he was commissioned by the Jewish religious authorities to oppose and deal harshly with those who were called “Christians”. In verses 10 and 11 it says that he “imprisoned them”, he “preached against them” (“I gave my voice against them”), he “punished them” and he “persecuted them”. It says that Paul was “exceedingly mad against them”. Paul had extreme anger and bitter fury against the Christians.
Perhaps there are some who are reading this who also have ill feelings about Christians, about church, about religion in general because of unpleasant experiences in the past. Please do not close your mind to God’s offer of salvation thru His beloved Son. Paul’s experience of conversion to Christ can also be your experience. In fact it says, in (1 Timothy ,16), that his conversion was a pattern conversion - “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.”
2) THE CONVERSION OF PAUL
In (Acts 26:13-15) we have the dramatic account of THE CONVERSION OF PAUL. The “course of Paul” was a course of darkness. He was a man who needed light, “a light from heaven” (verse 13), a light from God. Paul’s conversion consisted of three parts, he saw a light (verse 13), he heard a voice (verse 14) and he had a revelation that Jesus Christ was Lord (verse 15).
For you to be saved, to be converted, these same truths must be applied to you. It begins with the acceptance that if you’re not saved, you are in darkness. This darkness is a moral or spiritual darkness or spiritual blindness. If you remain in your sins you remain in a state of darkness or spiritual blindness. In (John ) Jesus said “I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”. When you come to Jesus Christ for salvation, the darkness will be displaced and you will have “the light of life”. There is a hymn that we sometimes sing that says;
THE WHOLE WORLD WAS LOST IN THE DARKNES OF SIN
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS JESUS
LIKE SUNSHINE AT NOONDAY HIS GLORY SHONE IN
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS JESUS
Jesus Christ is the light and the gospel message that tells of His death, burial and resurrection is also a light. It says in (2 Corinthians 4:4) “the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest THE LIGHT OF THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. Has your adversary blinded your mind so that you will not believe the gospel? Is he keeping you in darkness?
When Paul was converted, it says that he not only “saw a light” but he also “heard a voice”. For Paul’s conversion, he heard the literal, actual voice of Jesus Christ speaking to him. Today, you can hear His voice through the word of God, through the message of the Gospel. It says in (Hebrews 1:1, 2) “God …hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son”. It also says in (2 Timothy 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God (is God breathed) and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. As you read this gospel message and other information on this website and other Bible based websites on the internet, God will speak to you. Will you take heed? Will you “hear His voice”? It says in (2 Peter 3:9) “the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. Will you repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour?
When Paul was converted, he had a revelation that Jesus Christ was Lord. In (Acts 26:15) Paul said “Who art thou Lord”? The answer was “I am Jesus”. Paul accepted and acknowledged the lordship of Jesus Christ because it says in our related text, (Acts 9:6) Paul said “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do”? He called Jesus, “Lord” and was ready to do the Lord’s bidding. Who is the Lord of your life? Salvation comes by surrending to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Notice the following scriptures:
· (Romans 10:9,10) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (confess that Jesus is Lord) and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.
· Will you call upon the Lord to save you? It says in (Romans ) “Whosoever shall call upon THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be saved”.
3) THE COMMISSION OF PAUL
In (Acts 26:16-18) we have THE COMMISSION OF PAUL. The Lord commissioned Paul to take the Word of God, particularly, to the Gentiles. In this we see the wondrous grace of God in reaching out, not only to Jews, but Gentiles as well. It says in (Acts ), “God …did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name.” Will you be one of them? Will you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as your own personal Saviour? In (Acts 26:18) we have the description of the work that the Lord commissioned Paul to do among the Gentiles, “To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” The man who was in darkness and saw a light from heaven was now commissioned to do the same for others. From this verse we observe the following things:
· Sin Is Blindness
In (Ephesians ) we read “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” If you’re not saved, “your eyes of understanding” are not opened to see clearly. You have not yet seen and understood the sinfulness of sin or the absolute holiness of God. Sin is universal for it says in (Romans , 22, 23) “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “There is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The consequence of sin is universal. (Romans 5:12) “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” (Romans 6:23) “The wages of sin is death.” God’s provision of salvation, through the finished work of His beloved Son on the cross, is universal. (John 3:16) “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” Any man, woman, boy or girl, anywhere in the world, at any time, can be saved by repenting of their sins and putting their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you be among the “whosever’s” that have done this? It says of the Lord Jesus Christ in (Isaiah 42: 6, 7) that God, His Father, gave Him “for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison and them that sit in darkness, out of the prison house.” Sin is blindness, but if you accept Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour you will be saved and your eyes of understanding will be opened.
· Sin Is Darkness
Man’s moral state is one of darkness, in spite of the fact that light has come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. It says in (John ) “This is the condemnation (judgment) that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather that light, because their deeds were evil.” Mans love of darkness is evident today by the fact that Christian principals of morality, which have raised the standards of life wherever they have been heeded, are being relentlessly attacked and immorality is being justified. The words of the prophet Isaiah are very pertinent today, ( Isaiah 5:20) “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Learning and material prosperity are at an unprecedented peak, but men still grope in moral darkness, unable to discern moral truth. (John 3:21) says “he that doeth truth cometh to the light.” Christ is the light to which you must come. Only then will the darkness be removed.
· Sin Is Slavery
The Lord commissioned Paul to go to the Gentiles to “ turn them from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins.” If your unsaved and still in your sins, the Bible says, your in the grip of Satan and under his power. What a terrifying condition to be in. No religious rite, no moral reformation, no lofty resolve, no cultural pursuit can deliver you from the power of Satan. You must be converted to God. You must acknowledge and repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He took your load of sin upon Himself and thus went under the wrath and judgment of God . He paid the price for you dear reader. Now you can be saved. Now you can have forgiveness of sins.
In brief then, at conversion we turn to find the living God, who imparts life to dead souls, light to dark souls and liberty to dominated souls.
4) THE COMPLIANCE OF PAUL
In (Acts 26:19-23) we have what we might describe as “The Compliance of Paul”. As Paul testified before King Agrippa and thought back over his many years of service for the Lord Jesus, he could truthfully say (Acts 26:19) “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” In verse (20) we have ”The Scope of Paul’s Ministry”, an ever widening ministry, that would be focused on Gentile sinners and challenge them “that they should repent and turn to God.” This is the message that the Lord wanted Paul to preach. Has there ever been a time in your experience when you have repented of your sins and turned to God for salvation? The Lord Jesus said in (Luke 13:3) “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It also says in (Acts ) “God …now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Repentance means “to change ones mind or purpose.” In the Bible, repentance has to do with repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God.
In (Acts 26:23) we have “The Substance of Paul’s Ministry”. It is the Gospel (God’s good news), the message “That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Dear reader, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered under the wrath and judgment of a holy God when He bore your sins in His own body on that tree. By the grace of God, He tasted death for every man as it says in (Hebrews 2:9). God, the Father, signified His approval with the work of His beloved Son, when on the third day He was raised again, out from among the dead. Will you believe on Him and receive Him as your own personal Saviour? Or, will you continue to reject Him?
Please give this matter your most serious attention. Will you be a believer or a non-believer? Your eternal destiny depends on your decision.