In the New Testament, we read about crowds of people being converted to Christ. Many of them are unnamed—we don’t know their stories—just that they heard the gospel and responded in obedience to the Lord. However, the Spirit of God gave us several details about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and not just his conversion but what he did thereafter. Let’s spend a bit of time considering Paul, the convert to Christ.
Obedience To The Gospel
In Acts 9, Saul received permission from the religious leaders in Jerusalem to go to Damascus to persecute and bind Christians. Along the way, he was intercepted by the Lord. A great light blinded him and he heard Jesus speak, “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4) Soon, Saul was sent to Damascus, not to persecute Christians but to learn the gospel (Acts 9:6). Though Paul believed in Jesus prior to arriving in Damascus, he was not saved yet. Ananias, a Christian in the city was sent to Saul to teach him, which culminated in him urging the future apostle, “…why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). He was baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38; Luke 24:47), and became a Christian. Now what?
He Became A Teacher
Acts 9:20 reads, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” Right away, Saul began to teach others about Jesus. We should acknowledge, he was already a skilled teacher. He was a Pharisee and had no doubt taught many times in the synagogues. But now his message was about Jesus. Verse 22 says he “…increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews…” He grew in knowledge and wisdom and was able to contend for the faith.
Very few new converts are ready to begin preaching sermons, but if you have become a Christian, you know enough to teach others how to become a Christian. Learn where verses are which speak about faith, repentance, baptism, and the ongoing commitment required of those who obey God. Seek help from others who have been in the faith—study regularly with those who are teachers and preachers so you can grow in the faith.
He Faced Persecutions
Almost immediately, Saul faced persecution from those whom he formerly had fellowship with. The Jews at Damascus plotted to kill him (Acts 9:23-24). He had to escape from the city at night (v 25). He went to Jerusalem, but soon faced the same (Acts 9:29-30). Luke continues to follow Paul’s life in the book of Acts and records more attempts on his life. In fact in Acts 14, he was stoned and left for dead. Saul would suffer many things for the Lord, but he affirmed they were nothing compared to the glory to come (Romans 8:18).
When one makes the decision to follow Christ, the devil is not happy. He may use those who once supported us to bring troubles our way—family, friends, coworkers, etc.. We may not face assassination attempts as Saul did, but we will face oppression of some kind. Stand firm in the Lord. Seek help from your brethren. It will be worth it in the end (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Join The Disciples
After Saul was baptized into Christ, he “spent some days with the disciples at Damascus” (Acts 9:19). These were his new spiritual family. He met with them, was encouraged by them, and became beloved to them (as evidence by their protection of his life, Acts 9:25). After leaving Damascus due to the persecution, he went to Jerusalem where “he tried to join the disciples” (Acts 9:26). Once the concerns of the brethren were satisfied (they feared him, for he formerly persecuted Christians), they received him and “he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out” (Acts 9:28).
Being part of a local church is important. We can and should worship God in private as individuals, but the Bible places emphasis on collective worship; we should be members of a local congregation meeting together to worship God (1 Corinthians 11:18, 22; 14:23; Hebrews 10:23-25). In the local church, we find a body of believers who are working together for mutual edification, where God equips us to serve Him, brings us together in the pursuit of unity, and seeks to arm us against false doctrines (Ephesians 4:11-16).
What a delight to have some new converts to the Lord among us. Those who have been Christians for years, let us encourage these young ones in the faith. Those who have just recently been numbered among us—we’re excited to see you grow in the Lord and look forward to growing together as God’s family.