claims of all other religions can be met by mere outward conformity,
but Christianity demands the regeneration of the inner man. Even
unconverted men like Saul, as touching the law, may live blameless
lives in the sight of men, but the converted man is one whose whole
heart has been turned to God. The process is here exemplified in the
experience of Saul. We see him-
1. As a Rebel. "Saul yet
breathing out threatenings," etc. (Acts 9:1). Yet, after all the
evidences he had had of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the life
and testimony of Stephen, witnessing the triumphant death of a
Christian is seldom enough to slay the enmity of the human heart
against the revealed will of God.
2. As a Prisoner (Acts 9:2-4).
He was apprehended by a "light from heaven." The searchlight of God was
turned upon this religious burglar on the way to Damascus to rob the
Church of its living treasure. There is nothing the evil-worker dreads
more than the light (Joh 3:20). From this moment Saul could speak of
himself as the "prisoner of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1). Like many another
sinner, he was apprehended "suddenly." The light of truth flashed into
the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit is still God's way of
subduing rebels to Himself. The pressure of the light was so
overwhelming that he fell to the earth. This light, like the Word of
God, was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword
(Heb 4:12). The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
3. As an
Inquirer. "Who art Thou, Lord?" Along with the arresting light there
came a "voice, saying, Why persecutest thou Me." When the truth comes
in the power of the Holy Ghost there is always a voice with it, making
the sinner feel that it is with Him, not it, that he has to do. This
question reveals the terrible blindness of Saul's heart and mind-he
knew Him not. How could he possibly know Him and live at enmity with
Him. It was very different with Stephen (vv. Acts 6:15). But light from
the Lord is sure to lead to an honest inquiry after Him.
4. As a
Convert. "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). "Trembling"
at the discovery of his past sin and guilt, "and astonished" at the
greatness of the Lord's mercy and grace, he asks this question, as a
true penitent, ready and willing to yield himself to do His will. This
is conversion. Not the talking about religious duty, but the entire
surrender of the whole being to the person and service of the Lord
Jesus Christ. Saul repented at once, as soon as he discovered the error
of his ways (Mat 18:3). As a disciple he was easily led (Acts 9:8).
As a Worshipper. "Behold he prayeth" (Acts 9:11). Saul had frequently
said his prayers, but now he prayed. Now his renewed heart yearned for
fellowship with the risen Lord, who had revealed Himself to him. A
young convert once said-"Before I was converted I prayed to myself, but
now I pray to God." Those who don't know Jesus Christ as their own
personal Saviour can only draw nigh unto Him with the lips; they
worship they know not what.
6. As a Witness (Acts 9:15-19).
Before this he was a vessel fitted for destruction, but now "he is a
chosen vessel"-having been cleansed and transformed by the grace of
God-"to bear My Name," as precious treasure "before the Gentiles." As a
vessel, tie was made strong, for he was to "suffer great things" for
His Name's sake. He was often cast down, but not destroyed. As a
vessel, he was made meet for the Master's use, being "filled with the
Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:17). We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that
the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. Saul's
conversion and equipment for Christ's service has been given for a
pattern to them which should hereafter believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
(1Ti 1:16). Be ye filled with the Spirit.