Let me tell you a story about a young Jewish man named Saul. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, of the tribe of Benjamin, and studied under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel, a Pharisee and leader of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Law Council in Ancient Israel). Saul considered himself 'zealous' toward GOD, righteous and religious. He persecuted the early church, the followers of JESUS CHRIST, with unrelenting intensity. “3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison,” Acts 8:3, NIV. He had the backing of the High Priest and the Council of Elders.
Then, he encountered JESUS. “3 It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all round him. 4 He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' 5 'Who are you, Lord?' he asked, and the answer came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do,'” Acts 9:3-6, NJB.
Saul lost his physical eyesight for three days. He neither ate nor drank during that time, but prayed and waited. The LORD sent a man named Ananias, a Christian, to pray for him. “17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength,” Acts 9:17-19, NIV.
Now here is the amazing part. “After he had spent only a few days with the disciples in Damascus, 20 he began preaching in the synagogues, 'Jesus is the Son of God,'” Acts 9:19-20, NJB. How did that happen?
Conversion happens when we respond to, and accept, JESUS' invitation for salvation.“12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name 13 who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself,” John 1:12-13, NJB. The power of the HOLY SPIRIT then begins to work within us from the inside out, bringing a spiritual rebirth. This regeneration is transformative. We go from being carnally minded to spiritually minded. “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor 5:17, NIV. The process of sanctification takes place throughout the duration of the life of the believer, as we take up our cross and follow JESUS, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. This is the story of Saul, who became known as The Apostle Paul.
GOD can use anyone! You are never too broken, too sinful or too worthless in the sight of GOD. If you choose to turn to Him today, accept by faith JESUS' work on the cross, repent and be baptized, you too, will be filled by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT and will experience a new life!
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7, NKJV
Join us next week as we look at what it means to live in the Spirit.