Reading: Acts 9-10
Summary: Saul of Tarsus rises to prominence among the Jews as a persecutor of Christians. God intervenes in this zealous Pharisee’s life and brings about a dramatic conversion. That event, along with the resurrection itself, serves as the greatest evidence for the validity of Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son. That this event is recounted three times in Acts (chapters 9, 22, 26) bears witness to its vast importance.
Also of monumental import is the gospel being taken to the Gentiles. This major shift also required God’s intervention to not only direct Cornelius’ actions, but also change Peter’s own attitudes and feelings.
Two Conversions Considered
All conversions are not the same, but then again they are. Is the stereotypical conversion one of a person who previously lived in rebellious defiance of God changing and now serving God in all humility? That’s true of some conversions, but not all. They are not all about a person changing from being bad to being good.
Think about Saul of Tarsus. Here was a man zealously devoted to serving God in the way he thought he should. How sadly and tragically mistaken he was. His conversion included a radically changed understanding of God’s will and God’s people. His zeal and fervor needed redirecting.
Think about Cornelius. This man is quite admirable even before his conversion. He’s a devout, benevolent, God-fearing man. Still, conversion was needed.
Neither of these men needed convinced to believe in God, to quit unrighteous living, or seek religion. Their greatest need was a changed relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That change was affected by their immersion into Christ (Acts 9:18; 10:48).
Not all men need radical transformation in their lives and conduct, but all do need a critical change in their standing with God.