The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus
-This sermon has probably been used to convict and convince more sinners than perhaps any other sermon. Paul preached if often himself.
-Likewise, the testimony of individual believers over the years has been their own most powerful witness to lost sinners.
1. Human depravity at its worst (vs. 1-2)
-The greatest display of human depravity is a person’s hatred for Christ.
-Paul’s hatred of Christ was displayed through his persecution of Christians.
-The most extreme display of hatred for Jesus in the world, is the persecution of His people. Notice again the language and vs. 1-2.
-And amazingly, Paul persecuted Christians under the guise of religion and of doing God’s Will. Saul thought He was doing God speed!
-Paul persecuted Christians with unmatched zeal and passion. How great is the devastation that is caused by hatred that is accompanied with zeal. What destruction such a hatred brings in the world. This was the way of Catholism in the dark ages, and it is the way of the Moslems and the other religious zealots of the world today.
2. God’s grace mightily imposed (Vs. 3-5)
-We see in these verses the arresting power of the Lord.
-Sinners are illuminated with “a light from heaven”.
-They are illuminated by the truth upon being regenerated by the Spirit.
-Sinners are brought low, as Saul “fell to the earth”.
-Lost sinners are humbled in true repentance before the Lord.
-Sinners are convicted by the Lord. Jesus said “Why persecuteth thou me”.
-Sinners are made to see and own their sins and sinfulness before God.
-Sinners desire to know who Jesus is. Paul said “who art thou Lord”.
-There is a longing to know who it is that is troubling our spirits, and giving us this deep conviction of sin.
-Sinners are pricked in their hearts when they hear Jesus say “I am Jesus”!
-Instantly Saul’s past life was destroyed.
-All his religion was suddenly dung.
-All his works were but filthy rags in his own sight.
-He was once blameless in his own eyes, now he was the chief of sinners.
-He was no longer an avenger of God’s wrath upon Christians as he had thought, but now he was a murderer under the wrath of God.
-Sinners are then convinced of the evil and self-destruction of their ways-
“It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”
The metaphor in this verse is, the harder an ox resists his master’s prodding, the more affliction he receives from the piercing goads. Thus Saul, by resisting the goads of Christianity, was inflicting punishment on his own soul. The goads were designed by the Lord to bring sinners into the way of salvation and truth, which they eventually did with Saul.
-What are some of the pricks (or goads) that Paul resisted?
1. The Gospel of Christ was a prick in Paul’s conscience, as he had heard
it preached by Stephen before they stoned him to death. As Saul beheld that just man who’s face was like that of an angel, he heard him say “lay not this sin to their charge”. The gospel of Jesus pricks the heart with the love and mercy and grace of God. It is hard to kick against the love of God that was so manifested in the gospel of Jesus. When one considers all that Jesus suffered for sins, it is hard to fight against that kind of love.
2. The truth of the Scriptures concerning Christ is a prick in the heart.
In John 5:39 Jesus said “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” The Word of God with all its prophesies of Christ and how that He would come into the world, and all the great works that he would do during earthly ministry; and how that the Lamb of God would pay the sin debt of His people through suffering death for them. These were pricks to the heart and mind of Saul. Saul no doubt had fearful thoughts when he tried to disprove from the Scriptures that Jesus was indeed the very Christ.
3. His conscience also was a prick in his heart. Man’s conscience when
in under God’s control and divine influence, is an instrument used in the work of repentance. There were those haunting uncertainties about this Jesus that plagued Saul; perhaps Jesus really was the Christ. There was that haunting guilt of his persecuting Christians. What if he was wrong, then he was killing innocent servants of God! This must have haunted him insufferably!
4. There was the powerful testimony of the church that was a prick in Saul’s heart. The church was relentless and unfailing, and its undying perseverance and advancement in the world plagued Saul. If Christianity was a farce then why was it prospering…why couldn’t Saul fight and succeed against it? This must have troubled him greatly. Gamaliel, who was Saul’s mentor, said that if Christianity was the work of God that it could not be successfully fought against. Saul must have wondered then, if the church really was the work of God.
5. His present encounter with the Jesus was the strongest prick of all. When confronted with the living Lord of Heaven, it is impossible to kick against Him. We might kick against the those other pricks for a while, but when the Holy Spirit reveals to us the risen Lord, we must surrender to Him at His feet.
3. The genuine expression of conversion (Vs. 6)
Beloved, when lost sinners are brought to repentance and faith, there is a genuine expression of conversion that shows forth from their lives. The genuine work of God in a person’s life cannot and will not be concealed.
-As with Saul, sinners tremble in the presence of Jesus.
-Genuine fear and trembling takes hold of your being when the truth of Jesus is revealed to your soul.
-As with Saul of Tarsus, sinners are astonished, or terrified at the revelation of Christ. suddenly the One you thought was an imposter or just a storybook legend, is now revealed to you as the glorified Son of God, and you find yourself laying in the dust at his feet pleading for His mercy. All your religious ideas and notions are dashed to pieces, and the One you hated with a passion is now revealed to you as the only way of salvation, the very truth about God, and the only hope of eternal life”.
-A sinner recognizes Jesus as Lord.
-He is not someone we can take or leave.
-He is not just our fire escape from hell.
-He is not there just to supply our every want or wish like an some big Jeanne.
-He is not a God to be disregarded or to be set at naught, or to be taken lightly.
-He is not a God to be trifled with…He is not a man as we are.
-He is not our servant that He should be at our beck and call.
-But He is Lord- Lord of Heaven and earth, and Lord of you and me.
-We are His servants, and we are at His beck and call.
-Our chief concern is for His will to be done, and not our own.
Yes, true repentant sinners recognize Jesus as their Lord.
-The saved sinner desires to know his Lord’s will.
-True conversion causes one to cry out for the revealed will of God for our lives
“Lord, what would thou have me to do”
-We are saved “unto good works”. The converted sinner desires to know and to
do the works the Lord has before prepared for him to do. What would the
Lord have you to do?
4. No one else heard and no one else saw Jesus that day (vs. 7)
-The inward call of the Holy Spirit is personal and individual.
-No one else knows what the Lord is working in another person’s heart.
-You may have experienced the heavens shaking as it were, but the person next to you
may not have felt a thing.
-Perhaps Jesus is calling someone to salvation today.
-Perhaps He has revealed Himself to some lost sinner here this morning.
-One of the first things that Jesus had Saul to do was to be baptized into His Church.
-After that Paul served the Lord through His church the rest of his life.
-How is it with your soul this morning?
-What is your pleasure? Will you serve Jesus through His church?