PLAN OF SALVATION – 4
We left off in
Lesson 3 with the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. Let's pick it up from there. After Acts 8 the scene changes
to Saul of Tarsus, who later on become known by his Greek name, Paul (first referenced by this name in Acts 13:9, when he
was on his first missionary journey).
Paul was not
converted on the road to Damascus, as many people teach. Jesus just got his attention in that event; his actual
conversion took place in Damascus itself. Let’s verify this by the text.
Acts 9:3-6: “And
as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the
earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 9:5 And he said, Who art thou,
Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he
trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city,
and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
From this point
forward there was really not anything miraculous as far as Paul's receiving the truth and obeying it. This was done by natural process, as is true of all other conversions recorded in the New Testament.
It is true that
God staged the event miraculously. Ananias saw a vision to lead him to Paul,
which was necessary in the overall staging of this event. Also, Paul was informed of this in a vision (9:12), and Paul
did receive his sight back miraculously. But, as far as the of the plan of salvation itself, and Paul’s response
to it, that is totally consistent with all other conversions.
of the Lord with Ananias is recorded in Acts 9:10-16, and we encourage your to read that.
The actual conversion
is recorded quite simply in Acts 9:17-20: “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands
on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest
receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately there
fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which
were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ
in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
started preaching – he did not need an ordination service or even any sanction from the apostles (see Galatians 1). It is the truth that saves, not any organization.
Those who are saved organize themselves scripturally into local churches.
conversion is further elaborated by Paul himself in Acts 22 when he was giving his defense.
Acts 22:12-16: “And
one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt [there], came unto me,
and stood, and said unto me, ‘Brother Saul, receive thy sight.’ And
in that same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou should know his
will, and see that Just One, and should hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what
thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized,
and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
So, as far as
the conditions of salvation are concerned, Paul’s conversion was no different from all of the others. While the
evidence that got his attention was different, the commands which he obeyed were the same. He heard the truth, believed
what he heard, repented of his sins (as is clear from the complete turn-around in his religious practice), and he was baptized
to "wash away" his sins, i.e., for the remission of his sins, consistently with what is commanded in Acts 2:38.
in this conversion seem somewhat motivated by God's special calling of Paul to be an apostle. While he was diametrically
opposed to the gospel prior to his conversion, it seems quite clear that Paul was still motivated by his zeal for God, and
did what he did with a clear conscience (Acts 23:1)
In Lesson 5 we will take up the next detailed cases of conversion, that of the first gentiles to be converted, which
is described in Acts 10 and 11. Please e-mail us if you have any questions: email@example.com