top of page

Radical Conversion: The Abundant Life of Spiritual Freedom

If you look at the news, you might be overwhelmed with the headlines about radical conversions. People never to have been thought of to convert to Christianity, are all of a sudden being converted. But the question lingering is can what is being played out be trusted? This post will center around Paul's conversion story with 21st Century examples.

Saul, the Converted Pharisee

Saul of Taurus (later renamed Paul by Jesus) was a well known public figure in his time, even before his conversion story. He was a scholar, a Jew, a Roman citizen, and a Pharisee in the Judaism hierarchy. He was present when Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, was executed by stone. His persecution was far-reaching. He had followed for some time Jesus' disciples in hopes of killing them and keeping them from persuading others of their heresy. He was, for all intents, a murderer. His story is recorded in Acts and branches into Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians after the twelve disciples are chosen, named, and Judas replaced. Even though his story is recorded throughout these books, I don't believe it truly started there. I believe that God had been working on his heart the entire time, even behind the scenes.

For time and space purposes, I will put a link for the book of Acts. This is the meaty portion of Paul's conversion.

Read Acts here

The focus of this post will be on Acts 9:1-17

Scripture Excerpt

"Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and as eager to kill the Lord's followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them--both men and women--back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"

"Who are you, lord?" Saul asked.

"And the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what to do."

The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone's voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he was blind. So his companions led him by the and to Damascus. He remained there, blind for three days and did not eat or drink. Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, "Ananias!"

"Yes, Lord!" He replied.

The Lord said, "Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again."

"But Lord," exclaimed Ananias, "I've heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name."

But the Lord said, "Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name's sake."

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instantly something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward, he ate some food and regained his strength." (Acts 9:1-17, NIV).

A Few Things to Note

Before we continue, let's make a note about some things mentioned in this excerpt.

  • The author of Acts is Luke, written between about A.D. 63 and 70.

  • Pentecost had already happened and now the Holy Spirit dwelled inside believers.

  • Signs were being demonstrated through the disciples.

This passage is by no means encouraging the Charismatic Movement of today nor the "faith healers." You may have noticed that periodically, scripture will change the tense of "Lord" (or LORD) to represent which person in the trinity is speaking or being referred to.