Did you know that God doesn’t call the qualified to do His work, but that He qualifies those who He calls to do His work? Many believe that they have to “clean themselves up” or “get themselves together” before coming to God. That mindset is similar to someone trying to perform open heart surgery on themselves before going to the hospital. It’s pointless. The Lord is the only one who can clean you inside and out. Did you know that some of the most renown figures of the Bible had a troubled past? One in particular who experienced a complete transformation was Saul of Tarsus. He was a persecutor of the New Testament Church and was known for dragging men and women of the faith out of their homes and churches to be thrown in jail. This same enemy of Jesus was later converted to be one of the most well- known apostles of the New Testament Church known as Paul. He actually wrote the majority of the Epistles (Letters) to the Church that are in our Bible. He wrote Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians 1 & 2, to name a few. Before we discuss his conversion, lets search the scriptures to see how he was before he encountered Jesus.
Saul before Conversion
The story of Saul’s conversion is found in the book of Acts which is our church history book. We first see him mentioned in the latter part of Acts Chapter 7 when he observed the Deacon Stephen being stoned to death for preaching Jesus to the Jews. Acts 7:58 reads, And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul…And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Acts 8:1 then shows that Saul was consenting unto the death of Stephen. Saul began to wreak havoc on the Christians in Jerusalem and would have them arrested, which could lead to execution in some cases. Overall, he hated Christians and the Gospel of Jesus.
From Saul to Paul
In the beginning of Acts 9, Saul is on his way to Damascus with intent to persecute any who preached the gospel of Jesus. In route to Damascus, Saul was blinded by a light that shined from Heaven and he heard a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” This voice was Jesus. The Lord told Saul that it is hard to kick against the goads (pricks), which is a way of saying that the more Saul rebelled against his calling, the more agony he would bring upon himself. In Acts 9:15 Jesus tells the high priest Ananias, “For he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”
He was saying that Saul was a chosen vessel. After hearing the voice and being blinded, he didn’t eat or drink for three days and was led by the hand to Ananias to hear what he should do. When Saul arrived, Ananias laid hands on him and he received his sight and the Holy Spirit. Saul would then start preaching Jesus in the temples. Later on in the scriptures, Saul’s name is changed to Paul. Paul would go on to write 14 of the New Testament books which would educate the early church on Christian conduct, maturity in faith, and church order in the local assemblies.
Tests Breed Testimonies
The story of Saul proves that the Lord can change anyone and that none of us have an excuse. Prostitutes, drug dealers, murderers, thieves, etc, can all be used for the glory of God. Those who have experienced great opposition can be used greatly for the kingdom of God. The world needs ministers of God who can relate to their circumstances. Have you had a troubled past? Allow the Lord to turn those emotional bruises into spiritual blessings.
The first step to coming to God is acceptance that you can’t change yourself. This spiritual fight is the only war that you will win by surrender! Everything that you have been through in your life can mold you into something greater. The book of James reveals to us how our tribulation should be something that we should be thankful for. James 1:2 states, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience…But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Romans 5:3-4 is also another great Biblical example of how our trouble can be used for our learning. It states, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
Every great sculpture begins as a shapeless and undefined stone. No one really enjoys the chipping and shaping process yet the outcome is a perfected piece of art. Will you allow God to mold and refine you? It’s time to shift your angle of perception and use every attack that Satan has used to destroy as a opportunity to build you up. If you have made up your mind then it’s time to repent (turn away from your wicked ways and have a change of mind), be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of yours sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.