Yesterday I had the privilege to preach in the South Orlando Baptist Church after a week of vacation with my family. The text for the missions emphasis Sunday was Acts 9:1-19, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. As we consider how we often give up on praying for certain people and overlook others because they are too far gone and beyond the reach of the gospel, it was good to be reminded once again that God saves really bad people.
As Saul was on his way to Damascus to put a stop to the people of the Way (later to be called Christians), something really dramatic happened. Saul was blinded by the radiance and brilliant light of God’s glory. Jesus appeared to him causing him to be brought low to the ground in submission. Saul was blinded by Christ. When Jesus called out to Saul accusing him of persecuting Him, Saul realized for the very first time that he was wrong. He realized that Stephen was correct. Jesus is very God of very God – the God man – and He is alive.
What a humbling place to find oneself. Yet, that Damascus road humbling experience is exactly what Saul needed. He needed to know that although he was a licensed terrorist with papers in hand from the Sanhedrin to persecute Christians, he was in error. All of Saul’s intellect, pride, and self-righteousness came to a sudden stop on the Damascus road when he was confronted by the risen Savior Jesus Christ.
Not long after this event, Saul met Ananias on a street called Straight and after he prayed over Saul, he regained his sight and received the Holy Spirit. Saul followed the Lord in baptism and immediately was thrust into gospel ministry. His life was completely changed. Once a persecutor and now a preacher. Once a murderer and now a missionary. Once a terrorist, and now one of the greatest teachers of the Christian church.
Each time I read this text, I’m reminded that if God would save Saul of Tarsus, there is nobody beyond the reach of the God’s sovereign grace. What a wonderful reminder. One that I need to receive often.