Who would you consider to be the greatest Christian you have ever known? Who would you consider to be the last person in the world be saved? What if the answer to the both of these questions was the same person? That’s the testimony of Apostle Paul. Many consider him to be the greatest Christian who ever lived, yet before his conversion many would have considered him to be the last person in the world to be saved. How was God able to take someone who was so anti-Christ and turn him into someone who became so pro-Christ?
Many of us know that before his conversion, Paul (then called Saul) was a persecutor of the church. The Bible says: “But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.” (Acts 8:3 NLT) Saul not only persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem, he followed after those who had fled Jerusalem and hunted them down in order to destroy them. It was his intent to completely eradicate any trace of faith that could be found in this man called Jesus. Later in his life Paul said – “I was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9 NIV)
What caused Saul to be in such violent opposition to Christianity? In his letter to the Galatians Saul described himself as being someone who was – “extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (see Gal 1:14 NIV) Saul was a man driven by passion. Whatever he did – he did 110%.
One of the great lessons we learn from the conversion of Saul is that sincerity alone is not enough to make us right with God. Being a pastor I often come in contact with people who refer to their spirituality in a variety of ways. For some their beliefs seems to be something that they have developed on their own. Often such people say to me – “God and I have it all worked out.” It’s as though they think that God gives to each of us the option to pick and choose what we will believe. There are others who refer their spirituality as a tradition taught to them by their parents. Such people may say -“My parents believed such and such and therefore that’s just the way I was raised.” It’s as though what their parents believe is more important than what God has said.
A person may be very sincere about what they believe, however, they may be sincerely wrong. Jesus said – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6) Sincerity alone is not enough to take us to heaven. We must receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.