Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 10 October 2012
Page 5

When Was Saul Saved?

Raymond Elliott

Raymond ElliottLuke, the inspired historian, records the conversion of Saul in Acts 9. In chapters 22 and 26, Paul reviewed his conversion while making a defense of his character and work. When someone is asked when Saul was saved, he usually responds, “When he saw the Lord on the road to Damascus.” A famous country singer released a song during his life entitled, “I Saw the Light.” No doubt, many have claimed to have ‘seen the light’ while asserting that they were saved at that moment in time. Yet, was Saul really saved when he saw a light on the road to Damascus? You are urged to read again these three chapters in the book of Acts to learn the truth of the matter. Please study carefully the following observations:

1. If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, he did not know it because he asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6). There is no denial that Saul, at this time, became a believer in Jesus Christ, but, was he saved? If so, what was the significance of the question, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

2. If Saul was saved when he saw the Lord on the Damascus road, the Lord Himself did not know it because he told Saul to “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Certainly, this would have been the opportune time for the Lord to have informed Saul of his salvation if he had been saved at this point in the process of his conversion.

3. Further, if Saul was saved while on the road to Damascus, the disciple Ananias, whom the Lord sent to Saul, did not know for he said to Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Saul had believed in Christ. He had been a penitent person as indicated by his actions, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). In verse eleven of the same chapter we read that during this period of time Saul was constant in prayer. Yet, when Ananias came to Saul, he was still unsaved. We know this because Ananias instructed Saul to “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins…” (Acts 22:16). How could sins be washed away if there were no sins? It would have been completely unnecessary to tell a person to obey a command in order to have his sins forgiven if in fact his sins had already been forgiven.

4. Finally, Paul did not understand his sins had been remitted on the road to Damascus because he obeyed the requirements given by the Lord through Ananias. How do we know this to be true? Later, when Paul wrote to the brethren in Rome, he said, “Or do you not know that as many of us [plural pronoun, including Paul] as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we [plural pronoun] were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we [plural pronoun] also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). When was Saul baptized “into Christ Jesus”? – at the time when he was instructed by Ananias to do so. It was then that his sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29; Revelation 1:5).

It is very interesting to note that neither faith nor repentance were mentioned in this example of a person’s conversion to the Lord, but both prerequisites were necessarily implied. The very command that was given by Ananias, that is water baptism, remains controversial in the religious world today. Also, there were other reasons why the Lord appeared to Saul as he traveled to Damascus. Namely, that the Lord was going to send him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and that Saul was going to suffer for the name of the Lord. Also, in order to be qualified as an apostle, Saul had to have seen the Lord following His resurrection (Acts 9:15, 16; 26:16-18).


Jim Faughn

“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Luke is the only writer who records this wonderful story that so many children have sung about in children’s classes and in VBS over the years. There are many wonderful lessons to be gleaned from this reading other than smallness of stature of Zacchaeus and his climbing up into a tree in order to see Jesus pass by. He hastened to see Jesus. Had Zacchaeus been influenced by the principles of this world, he would never have exposed himself to criticism, but he was willing to risk all to see the Lord. In his efforts to see Jesus in person, he was having difficulty because of the smallness of his stature. Trying to overcome the press of the crowd, he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree so as to be able to see the Lord as he passed by. As Jesus came to the place, “He looked up, and said, Come down.” Theaphylact said, “God always anticipates us if He sees us eager for good.” The problem is that usually we have trouble seeing the Lord because we surround ourselves with the cares and concerns of the world to the point that we have so crowded the Lord out of our lives that we cannot see the Christ. We need to pick up His Word and lay aside the things of the world (Matthew 4:4). Like Zacchaeus, let us seize the opportunities of life and seek the Lord while He may be found. Let us seek to draw nigh to God and resist the Devil (James 4:7-8).

Zacchaeus had an opportunity presented to him by the Lord. Jesus no doubt was often invited into the homes of others, but this is the only time that He presented His own invitation to be invited to be the guest in the home of another. Such was accepted “Joyfully.” How would we react if Jesus came to our home today as a guest? What changes would have to be made? What changes would have to be made in our habits? TV viewing? Language? Dress or should I say lack thereof? What beverages would have to be removed from some households and refrigerators? Would we be glad for Him to be there for just a day or so, or would we rejoice when at long last He had gone? So far as we know, this was this man’s only opportunity to be with Jesus. We have no record that Jesus ever passed this way again. What if Zacchaeus had wasted this one opportunity like so many do today? There are people today who have literally heard hundreds of sermons, and yet they still continue to put off their obedience to the Gospel or their need to be restored to the church. I pity their plight! Zacchaeus displayed haste. He displayed a penitent spirit. Because of this Jesus said to him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the son of man is come to seek and to save the Lost.” Why not obey the truth today?

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