Acts 9:17,18 – Ananias left and found the house where Saul was staying. He went inside and laid hands on him, saying, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me to pray for you so that you might see again and be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.”
All at once, the crusty substance that was over Saul’s eyes disappeared and he could see perfectly. Immediately, he got up and was baptized.
You would have to say that the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the self proclaimed “Pharisee of Pharisees”, is the great conversion to Christianity of all time. Paul considered himself to be sort of a prototype of sinners saved by grace. He often called himself the “chief of sinners”. One moment the scriptures say he was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”, the next moment he is on his face in repentance calling out to Jesus the Lord. In a moment of time he was changed from an angry man, persecuting Christians, to a bond servant of Jesus the Lord. There are no natural explanations for such a sudden, dramatic, complete, and permanent change. The only explanation is that Saul of Tarsus was changed from a Pharisee into Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul was in bondage to religious legalism, only the grace of God can break those religious chains. Here are some comments from Brian Simmons on Paul’s conversion.
“The conversion of Saul the legalist into Paul the grace preacher has a significant lesson for us. We can be amazingly wrong while thinking we are doing right. The Holy Spirit awakens our hearts to feast on Christ, our righteousness. Religion has a deadening effect on our hearts. Like Saul, we have to fall off our “high horse” and bite the dust before our blinded eyes can see.”
So what is the key to this kind of radical transformation? Can this happen to anyone today? This can and is happening all over the world today. All it takes is a heart touched by the love of God. It is Christ’s love for sinners that makes us new creatures. He can change Pharisees into apostles or addicts into men and women of God. What is the key? The change comes from an encounter with Jesus. You have to put yourself in a place where encounters are likely to happen. In one moment He can make everything about you brand new.