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The Saving Call – Acts 26:12-13


The Saving Call

Text: Acts 26:12-18 

Let’s remember what we have learned. Paul has already spoken about his upbringing as a Pharisee, and yet, as we learned, being a Pharisee did have a formative effect on his life, leading to his conversion.  As a Pharisee he had learned through practice that he was unable to perfectly keep the law of God; that he was guilty.  Now he goes to the next step and tells again the story of his conversion to Christ, how he met the Lord on the road to Damascus.  

1. The Journey.  V12 -13

Paul is journeying – a man on a mission.  His fanaticism against the church, and the burning hatred that he held for Christ and his church is evident in this verse.  Of course he has already spoken of this V11   He is travelling towards Damascus, seething with malice, and he is still on his journey, even at midday. Now that in itself has fed the sceptics and the Bible denying modernists.  Paul had a seizure, or heatstroke – that blinding light he saw was just the searing glare of the noon sun.  James Montgomery Boice quotes Harry Ironside “Would God that all modernists could be so sunstruck that they might begin to preach Christ, and so come back to the grand old gospel of redemption by the blood of Jesus!”  It It was the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus that struck home to the very heart of that man and gave him to see the One he had been persecuting—the Saviour of sinners.” 

He’s right of course – at least about this!  The evidence, is in the changed life of the one who was blinded by the light.

2 The Jabs! v14-15  

Let’s focus for just a moment on this line,  it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. People will equate this to the work of the conscience. But was a Paul a conscience stricken man as he travelled on to Damascus? We can safely conclude that there is no evidence of it!  Read again verse 11! What does Jesus mean, by ‘kicking against the pricks?’  The pricks of the conscience can be ignored, and the conscience become seared and dull.  But the Lord’s hand on Paul’s life was goading him, training him, forcing him, until this point. We have already seen how he was doing that, even when Paul was a Pharisee.  It is an example of God’s irresistible grace in the life of a sinner.  

3. The Job V16-17 

Another interesting feature of this story of Paul’s conversion as told to Agrippa, is the conflation of Paul’s conversion and his call.  He does the same thing in Galatians 1:15-16.   Paul was saved to serve.  We all are.  There are two other aspects to Paul’s call to ministry:-

  • He is an apostle.  There is a direct reference to his apostleship here.  He is told that he will be a witness of what he has seen.  That’s a common call to all of us, when God enlightens our hearts and opens our eyes.  Psalm 119:18. We bare called to tell what we have seen in the word.  But Paul is an apostle, so God will give him a form of revelation that we will not have!  He tells him, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.  God is going to use Paul as one of those who will bring his written word to completion.  We are NOT apostles! , 1 Corinthians 15:8  
  • He is a prophet!  Paul is given a promise that is amazingly like some of the promises that are given to OT prophets when they were commissioned by God to serve.  To Paul, Jesus promised deliverance and protection, both from the Jews and the gentiles, 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee. To  Jeremiah 1:8. Ezekiel 2:1-3  

Paul is commissioned! One commentator points out that when he left Jerusalem, on his way to Damascus, he was an apostle of the Sanhedrin.  In verse 12, the phrase with authority and commission from the chief priests, would indicate that he was an official ambassador of the Jewish council, – colloquially, an apostolos.  What a dramatic change, – the apostle of the Sanhedrin, becomes the apostle of Christ!

4. The Joy!  v18  

The final unique feature of this account of Paul’s conversion, is the joyful element of the gospel that is included.  This may be a testimony, but unlike many modern testimonies, it is not about Paul, it is about Jesus, and the wonderful effect, the change, that his encounter with Jesus had in Paul’s life…

  • He OPENS their eyes!  We dwell in the darkness of sin, and we are blind, unaware of our condition, and with no desire to look or seek for deliverance from that darkness.  It is a terrible, profound, wicked darkness.  John 12:46
  • He TURNS them!  This is the essence of conversion!  He turns us round, – we call it repentance, where we turn away from our sin and turn to God, and we often urge sinners, rightly to repent, but we do so, knowing that they will not, unless it is the Lord who turns them.
  • He TRANSFERS them.  He brings them out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light, from Satan’s kingdom, into God’s kingdom.  They have a new citizenship, and a new family and a new father!
  • He FORGIVES them.  All of their sins are forgiven, in Christ.
  • He ENDOWS them.  He gives them an inheritance!

Paul echoes this commission, this gospel message in Colossians 1:12–14. 

The Jews had a doctrine of the nation of Israel.  Israel, to them, the people called the Jews, were God’s people, by birthright.  They thought they were the sons of Abraham, and because of that, they assumed that they were the only inheritors of the promises made to the patriarch.  It was national salvation, and it was enacted in Egypt when God rescued the Hebrews from slavery under Pharaoh.  But the Jews were plagued with unbelief and false works. John 8:39-40.   That Jewish doctrine of national salvation was a deceitful misrepresentation of God’s saving work.  When Jesus called and commissioned Paul, he told him, them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.  Salvation is not dependent upon race or birthright.  Salvation is being set apart, called of God, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Galatians 3:28-29  

I wonder what Agrippa thought of all this, I wonder what Festus thought too?  We will find out, in our next study.

© Bob McEvoy January 2022

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