Vol. 6, No. 7
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Luke, the inspired historian, records the conversion of Saul in Acts chapter nine. In chapters 22 and 26, Paul reviews his conversion while making a defense of his character and work. When someone is asked when Saul was saved, they usually respond, "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. But, 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:
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?"
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 inform Saul of his salvation if he had been saved at this point in the process of his conversion.
Further, if Saul was saved while on the road to Damascus, the disciple Ananias, whom the Lord had 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 Ananais 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.
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 him] as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we [plural pronoun, including him] 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 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 inferred; yet, 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. (Please read Acts 9:15, 16; 26:16-18.)