Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Easy Salvation or Paul’s Life of Faith?

In a world where theology is no longer the “Queen of the Sciences,” there remain storm clouds, dark and foreboding, over the land. Whereas the church, the true church, is called to be a light in every generation to provide answers for man’s sinful state before God, it is sadly lacking in its God-ordained duty. Even in the church, theology is not sound but wavers like a wind-tossed ship being dashed to bits on a rocky shore. Souls of its members are suffering shipwreck in their faith.

I have often speculated with a great deal of wanderings through Scripture that the root cause of the moral decay within the church is that the foundation has become skewed. The very foundational truth upon which the house should be built is based upon faulty perceptions. Salvation, the beginning and end of it all, is presented in a watered down, more palatable form rather than teaching the truth of the Gospel. An “easy entrance” into the Kingdom of God is offered: “Nothing shall be required of you, if only you will believe,” is the corrupted message. This corruption is dispensed in churches everywhere at the eternal expense of men’s souls.

There is a saying that “The Fish Rots From the Head Down.” Tragically, the heads of churches throughout America, pastors and elders, hold to a form of the Gospel that is rotting the body from the head down, and it is the Apostle Paul’s conversion as told in the book of Acts1 that is the profound demonstration of the true biblical teaching of the Gospel. Is the Gospel an easy decision in which nothing is required of the professing believer, or is it as the Apostle Paul himself wrote,

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."2

Saul of Tarsus was not seeking the salvation of his soul while on the road to Damascus. He did not have a Gospel tract telling him he needed to invite Christ into his heart. There were no televangelists urging him to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Saul was on his way to kill Christians. This would not be his first time killing. In Acts 7:58; Luke tells of Saul’s participation in the murder of Stephen, whose only crime was Stephen's preaching to the Sanhedrin. Saul’s trip to Damascus was authorized by the high priest from whom Saul received letters of authorization for the dastardly task.3 Saul was in route to take out his hatred on Christians.

It was while on his way to take prisoners, or perhaps even kill them if taking them captive proved impossible, that what some call the most “dramatic conversion” experience recorded in Scripture occurs. I propose six observations in Paul’s conversion that I suggest demonstrate the Biblical Truth of the Gospel of Salvation.

Acts 9:1-19

One: Paul’s conversion shows that Christ calls sinners in a confession of His Lordship. When confronted with the blinding light and voice that stunned him and those traveling with him on the road to Damascus, Paul cried out, “"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.” 4 Some Bible commentators say this is just a polite mode of expression. Others point to Romans 10:9 where Paul wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” When a confession of Christ’s Lordship or Rule over your life occurs, the next step is inevitable.

Two: Paul’s conversion shows that real faith produces repentance and is the outcome of confessing someone else as Lord of your life. You cannot profess Christ as Lord and go on in your sin. Paul immediately produced a changed life, fruit “in keep with repentance.”5 Paul stopped in his murderous tracks and no longer persecuted and killed Christians.

Three: Paul’s conversion shows that salvation is a work of God and not man. Paul was not seeking God while on the road to Damascus. He was seeking to persecute the Second Person of the Triune God through Christ’s people, ““I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.”6 It was while Paul was dead in his trespasses and sin that God made him alive (born again, John 3) in Christ Jesus. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved) (NASB),"7

Four: Paul’s conversion shows that a true conversion experience results in obedience to the Word of God. In response to the Second Person of the Godhead’s words to get up off his knees, go into the city and wait to be told what to do, Paul did just that. Paul obeyed the Word of God.

Five: Paul’s conversion shows that a true believer will obey God.8 Paul demonstrated his love for Christ by doing what Christ said to do. Anyone who does not obey the Word of God, says John, is a liar.9

Six: Paul’s conversion shows that a change, a radical change in the professing believer’s behavior, is a test of that person’s salvation. Paul stopped persecuting and murdering Christians. He began loving those whom he once sought to eradicate. He obeyed God’s leading in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The last half of the Book of Acts is dedicated to showing the result of one man’s conversion experience of a radically changed life in behavior and deeds in serving the Lord God and His church.10

1 Acts 9:1-19

2 Romans 1:17

3 Acts 9:1,2

4 Acts 9:5

5 Luke 3:8

6 Acts 9:5

7 Eph 2:4,5

8 I Cor 16:22

9 I Jn 2:1-6

10 Acts 13:1-28:31



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