The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/31

Posted on | May 31, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/31

Scripture reading: Acts 9:1–22

About Noon on the
Road to Damascus

As I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”     (Acts 22:6–7)

Undoubtedly the Damascus road conversion of the apostle Paul (also known as Saul) is the most famous conversion in history. Until this moment Paul had been public enemy #1 of the church of Jesus Christ. He hated Christians and everything they stood for. But at noon on this day and in this place, he was dramatically transformed and became perhaps the greatest promoter of the Christian faith in the past two thousand years. Paul’s conversion is recounted three times in the book of Acts (chapters 9, 22, 26) and twice more elsewhere in the New Testament (Galatians 1–2, Philippians 3). Clearly, we are meant to see Paul’s conversion as prototypical, a model for what all true conversions ought to look like. Though some parts of his experience are unique (the light, the voice, blindness), the overall structure is indicative of the essential elements that ought to be found in every authentic conversion:

1. A personal encounter with Jesus. “Who are you?” Paul asked the person speaking to him from the blinding light. “I am Jesus,” came back the reply (Acts 9:5). Paul’s conversion was not to a new religion or philosophy of life.  He was converted to a person: Jesus. It wasn’t the strength of the theological arguments of Christians that caused him to change, but the reality of the presence of person of Christ.
2. A profound conviction of sin. “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus asked (Acts 22:7). Suddenly Paul realized that his hostility to the church was in reality an act of rebellion against God himself! The light from heaven exposed the darkness in his soul. This was no vague and generic sense of unease but the terrifying discovery that he was guilty of opposing the King of the Universe! Paul’s response was not a wimpish, “I’m not what I ought to be so I’ll try harder,      ” but a despairing, “Woe is me! I am ruined” (Isaiah 6:5).
3. An unforgettable experience of grace. As Paul confessed his sin and acknowledged his guilt, he suddenly became a candidate for grace! Ananias came and said, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). In a short span of time Paul was forgiven, baptized, filled with the Spirit, healed of blindness, and commissioned to be a missionary to the nations (Acts 9:15–19). Paul would easily identify with the words of the old gospel song written by Horatio G. Spafford:

My sin —O, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin—not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

4. A spontaneous passion to tell others. “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying ‘He is the Son of God’” (Acts 9:20). Just as a newly married man can’t stop talking about his bride, so Paul could not be silenced. He wanted everyone to know the truth about who Jesus is and what he came to do! His message was not so much a creed or a doctrine as it was a person!

Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NASB). This is not optional, it is essential. What about you? Are you converted?

One encounter with Jesus Christ is
enough to change you, instantly, forever.
—Luis Palau

point to ponder • How does your conversion compare to Paul’s?

prayer focus • Someone you know who needs Jesus.


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