There was a man who was raised to know Jewish laws. He learned to follow them so precisely that when Jesus came to teach people to follow Him above the Old Testament laws, this Jew became irate. He was in agreement with many other Jews, even their spiritual leaders, to stop this movement called the Way; read Acts 9:1-2. How much did this Jew dislike anyone associating themselves with Jesus, according to these two verses?
Then, one day as he and his companions were heading to a city to throw more believers into prison, his life changed dramatically. You could say, God gave Saul a lightbulb moment. Up until now, Saul believed in God, knew the Old Testament scriptures well, went to the synagogue regularly, and was ready to defend his faith at any cost. Until this very moment when God got his attention.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is useless to fight against My will.” (Acts 26:14)
“Who are you, lord,” asked Saul. (Acts 26:15)
God helped Saul to see His Son. He first had to humble Saul. When hearing Jesus’ voice, he fell down. The first posture of a true believer’s heart is humility. The second heart posture is the ability to hear God. Before this encounter, Saul was too engrossed with what he believed already. He didn’t give any room in his heart or mind to see who Jesus really was. He kept himself blinded from what God was doing around him.
How Saul answered Jesus reveals how his already established faith was grounded in intellectual, head knowledge only, without his heart being engaged with what he knew. He believed God factually. When God spoke, Saul did not recognize His voice.
In Acts 26:15-18, Jesus speaks very clearly to Saul. He didn’t ridicule Saul for not believing in Him. He stated who He was and what Saul was doing to Him. Jesus continues on telling Saul what his life will look like from that moment on. Saul is appointed as Jesus’ servant and witness. He is to tell the world what he has seen and what the future holds. God is giving Saul a big job to do, to take the Good News of Jesus to the Gentiles. This was something new. Before Christ, only Jews followed God. Now, God’s love was going to have no borders. Jesus came to save the whole world; see John 3:16.
Jesus continues telling Saul the new way to walking as a believer. He was to help people to open their eyes and see, like Jesus did with him, and persuade them to turn from the darkness towards the light and from living under the power of Satan to now living for God. Why was this so vital for Saul to understand? Look at verse 18b, “(Only) then, they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.”
In verse 19, notice Saul’s response to God’s invitation to follow Christ. And because Saul was willing to engage Jesus in his heart as well as his thinking, God used Saul in courageous ways. God’s Kingdom grew and it still does today because Saul was willing to change and follow Jesus. Saul became Paul, and God had Paul write various books in the Bible for us to learn from.
You can learn from Saul in how to go beyond what you already know about God and allow Jesus to become your Savior and Lord. First, you need a lightbulb moment, just like Saul. He believed God and knew the scriptures as he followed Jewish protocol. Why did God have to give him a lightbulb moment? Saul was religious. Wasn’t that enough?
Every true believer’s heart needs to be humbled. It is easy to trust how you have faith. If it makes sense, then it must be true. See what 2 Timothy 4:1-5 has to say about this. Saul needed his attention and faith averted to the presence of Jesus Christ. Christ is where a true believer abides in.
Every true believer has his ears opened as well as his eyes. Through the Holy Spirit, you will learn how to recognize His voice. God will speak to you in your soul. He will help you with every decision you ever have to make.
Every true believer turns from the darkness of sin as well as living under the rule of Satan, and lives obedient in the light of the Lord. Sin is Satan’s domain, and for the time being, he is allowed to run around and distract people from becoming true believers. God has control over him, but he is allowed to disrupt God’s unity. This will be restored eventually, but for now, God is calling you to believe in His Son and follow hard after him. Jesus is the only way to defeating Satan from distracting you.
Where is God finding you? You may not be a zealot like Saul and persecute Christians, but do you believe God without surrendering to Christ and living for Him and by Him? Do you sit on the sidelines and watch others play in the game of faith, content that your belief in God is enough, and He will let you into heaven? Is your faith based on how you were raised, a certain denomination, and you follow family tradition instead?
Wherever you are, may God give you a lightbulb moment so you can see and hear clearly who Jesus is. Be brave and pray for it. Ask God to turn on the lightbulb in your heart and mind. It is pretty awesome when God intervenes!