But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me. (Galatians 1:23-24)
Who Did You Say Obeyed The Gospel?
It goes without saying the conversion of Saul of Tarsus was something no one could have foreseen happening. If there was one person in the whole world the early disciples would have never considered a candidate for the gospel – well, Saul was at the top of the list. He was the driving force of the first major persecution of the church admitting to dragging men and women off to prison. One striking statement of Saul’s methods is when he declares before Agrippa that he “punished [saints] often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceeding enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:11). When they were put to death he cast his vote against them. Remember Steven?
The poster boy for who will never obey the gospel of Jesus Christ was Saul of Tarsus. From the tribe of Benjamin Saul was a deeply devoted Hebrew who lived fully the life of a Pharisee. He was on his way to the city of Antioch to persecute and imprison Christians when he hit a huge road block. His life was perfect. He had power, money, influence and a deep hatred for anything Jesus. Then the light came and his life changed. Three days later, blind and fearful, the hand of a gentle man rose Saul up from the ground and asked, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Three days after the light knocked him off his horse, the persecutor of the church became a child of God. Who would have thought?
Ananias had fearful reservations. When the Lord came to him and told him that He wanted him to go to the house of Judas and find one called Saul of Tarsus the disciple was no less shocked. He even ‘reminded’ the Lord who this man was. If there was anyone Ananias would have never believed could be taught the gospel this was the man. Having been instructed by the Lord how Saul would be a chosen vessel for the Lord Ananias went immediately. And you know the rest of the story.
Here is the lesson: it is easy to categorize people as good and bad candidates for the gospel. Do you know someone like Saul today? Deeply devoted to their faith and you think to yourself that nothing would ever shake them from their error? They are so involved in their belief that nothing could ever move them? Saul of Tarsus became Saul of Jesus Christ! Never, never believe the person before you is not capable of being receptive the gospel. ALL men need the gospel. Jesus died for ALL men. You and I should never pick and choose. We are sowers who broadcast the seed without discrimination. Sow the seed – do not surgically plant seed in ground you think may bring forth a crop. Let God take care of that. You never know. Saul of Tarsus may be standing before you – in the waters of baptism. Praise God. Glorify God.
- Kent Heaton