A Sudden Change in Plans

Continuing this series in the life of Paul, after the stoning of Stephen, Paul began new threats against the followers of Christ (Acts 9:1-2) so he might jail them of kill them. This is the chapter where Jesus gets to Paul and reaches him with the life-changing message of the gospel.

If you’re like me, you probably have asked at some point in your Christian life, “Why in the world did you choose to save me?” Each of us knows our personal failures and vulnerabilities and have concluded that we are not really worth the price of our salvation. Then we look at Paul and decide that at least we are not like him! He was so anti-Christ (Acts 26:11). Paul was obsessed with destroying the church. The word really means “to act like a maniac” (the Greek term is mainomai).

Paul was a hot-headed rabbi determined to make a name for himself. One day on the road to the city of Damascus, Jesus Christ intervened in his life (Acts 9:3-4). This encounter left him blind and dependent on those around him (Acts 9:8). In a way, Paul is the perfect example of a guy who was totally sincere in his beliefs yet totally wrong. He thought he knew it all but actually knew nothing. In a world of black and white religious dogma, Paul comes face to face with shades of gray. Sincerity means nothing if it is misdirected.

Sometimes we feel that we should get our lives straightened out before we can come to Christ, but a great verse is Romans 5:8, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. No matter how dark or deep, we can begin a journey of faith in Christ. No one is perfect, but we all must press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:12). The phrase “take hold” means to seize with eagerness, like God snatched Paul by the hair. Paul never forget the depth of his sinfulness, out of which Jesus saved his soul (1 Timothy 1:15).

There is no room for pride and nothing can bring us back to reality and humble us like remembering how God saved us from ourselves. No one can teach forgiveness like the forgiven. Paul believed in his cause and it led him down a destructive path. That day on the Damascus Road, Paul not only was snatched from the devil but God snatched Paul from himself; from his misguided zeal and his obsessive behavior.

There is little doubt that Christ can save anybody. No one is too wicked or far from God (Isaiah 59:1). A gray question may be why God chose to save us, but a black and white answer is that “I once was lost but now I’m found.”

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