Commentary by Walter Albritton

                                   October 19, 2008


The Spirit Transforms Us So Others Will Seek Christ


Acts 9:1-31


Key Verse: The Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. – Acts 9:17b


Acts chapter nine is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Here we have Doctor Luke’s account of the dramatic conversion of Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. Saul’s story is convincing evidence that God can change the human heart and that conversion is the business of the church.

Saul, who despised the disciples of Jesus, was on his way to Damascus to arrest and imprison any who claimed to be followers of “the Way.” On that road he encountered Jesus. Falling to the ground he was blinded by a brilliant light “from heaven.” Though he could not see Jesus, he heard Jesus speak to him. The men who were with Saul heard the voice but they saw no one.

Saul was stunned, helpless, and blind. But his friends helped him obey Jesus. They took him to the house of Judas on Straight Street in Damascus. There, for three days, he remained blind and “neither ate nor drank.”

Nearby in that city lived a disciple of Jesus named Ananias. In a vision the Lord spoke to Ananias. The Lord told him about Saul, directing him to go the house on Straight Street and pray for Saul. He told him what to say to Saul, and that Saul was expecting him.

This was a pivotal moment in history. Ananias balked at first for he had heard that Saul was coming to arrest Christians. He was not sure that God understood why Saul was in town. But God had no time to argue with Ananias. He repeated firmly his command that Ananias go to Saul and pray for him so that his blindness could be healed.

Luke’s next words are beautiful: “So Ananias went . . . . “ Ananias obeyed the Lord. No doubt he was still a little apprehensive but he got busy doing what God told him to do. In this Ananias is a powerful example for us. When the Lord says go, our hand should be reaching for the door knob and our feet should be on the way out to do the Father’s bidding.

Saul was obedient. Ananias was obedient. And God kept his promise. As Ananias honored the name of Jesus, giving him the glory, and praying for Saul, God restored Saul’s sight and filled him with the Holy Spirit.

Saul was a new man. He soon had a new name and the rest is history.  Transformed by the power of God, Saul became the Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary in history. He planted churches in his travels and his letters became a significant part of our New Testament. God used Paul in a mighty way to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. The emerging church grew rapidly under the impact of Paul’s teaching and preaching.

It all started with Saul’s conversion. He was going one way. He met Jesus and got turned around. He was changed through and through. His encounter with Jesus gave him a new direction, a new purpose, and an entirely new relationship to God. Grace, redeeming grace, made the difference.

Paul became a servant of Jesus. He served him out of gratitude for salvation, not in the vain hope that his works would win God’s favor. He realized that the love that put Jesus on the cross for our sins was the unmerited grace of God.

The story of the conversion of Saul is God’s way of saying that he has the power to transform our lives. No matter how far astray we may have gone, God can change us – when we are ready and willing to trust him and obey him. When we become new men and women in Christ, God uses our changed lives to motivate others to turn to Christ.

In no way should we suppose each one of us needs a “Damascus Road conversion experience.” Few of us will have such a dramatic conversion. God changes some of us gently and slowly. The key to a truly changed life is Christ becoming first. Paul’s conversion made Christ the center of his life. Jesus became everything to Paul. He lived to serve and witness for Jesus.

When Jesus becomes the consuming focus of our lives, God will use our changed lives to attract others to the Savior. By our life, and by our lips, we can encourage others to embrace the life-changing power of God. We will grow more and more like Jesus and the church will grow as God transforms one person after another, and one family after another. We have good news for the world: our God can change people who worship themselves into people who worship joyfully the Lord Jesus Christ!

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