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Radical Conversion


I’ve always been encouraged by the conversion testimony of Saul of Tarsus, who later became Paul the apostle. It has been not only an inspiration to me in ministry, but also with regards to the process of sanctification.  1

This morning as I read it again in my devotional time, I started thinking about the three days in Saul’s life immediately after he was abruptly confronted by the Lord Jesus.

There he was—in the city of Damascus; blind for three days… eating no food, drinking no water, all the while in deep prayer, with nothing to do but think and ponder what just had happened to him, and what it would mean in his life.

So Jesus is the Messiah, after all? Yes!

Oh, no… what have I done? How many of His followers have I killed? Which of them are still in prison because of me? How many others have I influenced to become haters of Jesus?

Can I truly be forgiven for all of these things? Am I truly forgiven?

What does this all mean as far as my being a Pharisee is concerned? There’s no turning back, I’ve got to face these guys and confess Jesus as Messiah! He is now my Lord!

Where do I find Jesus in the scriptures? What does this mean to me, as a Jew?

Jesus has called me to be His minister and witness. What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go?

At the end of those three soul-searching days, Saul had a visitor—a disciple of Jesus called Ananias. Saul had been told about Ananias’ coming in a vision. Ananias then prayed for Saul, and the Lord healed his blindness; and through the laying on of Ananias’ hands, Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit—empowering him for service.

It was a radical conversion, to say the least. Saul’s whole world was turned completely upside down, in the right way. Anyone who knew Saul would immediately observe very apparent changes. No more anger. No more hatred or bitterness. These things were replaced by a passionate, burning love and zeal for Christ.

Yes it was a dramatic, radical conversion; yet in reality, every conversion is a radical one.

I thought about a very different kind of conversion. Let’s use the example of a quiet college student, a young woman, a studious and responsible person. She never caused anyone trouble, was kind and gracious to her parents, and practiced sexual purity in her relationships with young men. So she goes off to college and is invited to a campus Bible study. There, she discovers the glory of the gospel message and accepts Christ.

At first, no one notices anything different, because outwardly at least, she seemed like such a nice girl. Most would have thought that she was already a follower of Christ.

Within her own heart, though, she experiences a new peace that comes from forgiveness and a deep joy flowing out of her new fellowship with God. Her world has been rocked. She is now a citizen of the kingdom of God—a regenerated child of our Father in heaven. She will never be the same.

So Jesus is the Messiah, after all? Yes!

Oh, no… what have I done? What exactly were my sins that nailed Him to the cross?

Can I truly be forgiven for all of these things? Am I truly forgiven?

What is the difference between my old life and this new one?

What does God want from me?

How can I serve Him? In what ways shall I give my life for Him?

Her conversion is no less radical than Saul/Paul’s.

She will not be called to the same ministry, nor will she be given the same spiritual gifts, but she has been brought out of death into life just as much as he had been.

God has a plan and a purpose for her, just as He did for Saul/Paul… and just as He has for each of His own.  2

What an incredible life the Lord has brought us in to! What exciting realities, and amazing possibilities. It’s living in the new covenant, with all of its life, challenges, victories, and authenticity.

Conversion. It’s radical, indeed.

Thanks for reading.

In Christ,
Bill Holdridge

1 The story of Saul/Paul’s conversion, along with related explanatory passages, can be found in Acts 9:1-33, Acts 22:1-21, Acts 26:1-23, Romans 7:7-11, 1 Corinthians 15:3-10, 2 Corinthians 11:22-33, Galatians 1:11-24, Philippians 3:3-7, and 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

2 So many scriptures deal with God’s plan and the nature of the new life, but here are just a few: John 3:3-8, Romans 6:1-11, Romans 8:1-4, Romans 8:31-39, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:8-10, Ephesians 4:24, etc.

Categories: God's Grace, Salvation
  1. kathleen mccoy
    February 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Bill, with this blog you’re taking us all back to our First Love…that moment when we realized that Jesus was real, He died for us, now He’s alive, and that he really loves us, and came to save us….

    It’s bringing to mind one of my favorite songs…by Kieth Green…

    “Like a foolish dream of tryin’ to build a highway to the sky…all my hopes would come tumblin’ down and I never knew just why…until today when You pulled away the clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes…I’ve been blind…all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise, but then You took me by surprise…

    Like wakin’ up from the longest dream, how real it seemed, until Your love broke through

    I’ve been lost in a fantasy that blinded me, until Your love broke through…”

    Bill, it makes me wonder, as I muse to your musing, and ponder the things Paul must have thought… did he think that even though he was blind that his vision was better?

  2. February 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Yes, I think Paul’s vision was much better after he was blinded by the Lord.

    John 9:39-41 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”

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