When I really think about the gospel spilling out into the world, I think of the dusty feet walking miles of roads and the only thing the early Christians surely carried was a powerful message. And I wonder, what is it like to be bound so tightly to Jesus where nothing else matters but persevering for His name, nothing else matters but knowing Him?
Paul is a man I think of when I think of the gospel being let loose like that onto the earth.
Full of grit and valor. Bold and Unshakable.
I imagine him to be every bit of these words. A man so adamant, so fiercely held captive by one mission. One moment, every breath he breathed was a war to end the threat of Christianity and the next breath nothing could shake the gospel out of him.
Acts 9:1-3 says “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” and he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The very road Saul meant to take to tear at the glory of heaven, Jesus redeemed to bring glory closer than Saul dared dream. Things always change when we encounter Jesus. The road we are walking always has a different look, a broader perspective, a more purposeful mission when we come face to face with the presence of God.
A little further in Acts 9, Ananias, a disciple of Jesus in Damascus, was commanded to find Saul and lay his hands on him so Saul would regain his sight. Ananias, though faithful, was incredibly nervous considering Saul’s reputation. But you know what Jesus said?
“Go, for [Paul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
What catches my breath every time I read this story is that God would have plans to use a cut throat, ruthless enemy of His Kingdom to change the trajectory of those who could come in into it! God used this man to bring more and more people to redemption, to His love.
I think it’s important to remember Paul’s story. It’s important to remember the kind of God we serve. Paul was the kind of man that bound himself completely to the mission he believed most in. And God’s the kind of Father to save His child from complete darkness and bring him into the light. God had a bigger plan for Paul than just encountering him on that road- Paul’s testimony would draw even the hardest of hearts to Christ.
Acts chapter 26, Paul is defending himself before the king as he has been kept in custody. Paul’s defense is his testimony of encountering God, and he recounts what God told him on the road to Damascus:
“Get up and stand to your feet, for I have appeared to you to reveal your destiny and to commission you as my assistant. You will be a witness to what you have seen and to the things I will reveal whenever I appear to you. I will rescue you from the persecution of your own people and from the hostility of the other nations that I will send you to. And you will open their eyes to their true condition, so that they may turn from darkness to the Light and from the power of Satan to the power of God. By placing their faith in me they will receive the total forgiveness of sins and be made holy, taking hold of the inheritance that I give to my children!” Acts 26:16-18 TPT
The entire new testament is full of letters inked with words that represent this testimony. A testimony full of grit, valor, boldness, and unshakable faith. Paul laid everything on the line for the sake of knowing Christ and preaching His name. He didn’t quit, he was a man who took God’s word and ran with it with his whole heart.
Praise God we get to share in these letters he wrote to the early church! They are written for us to glean from and learn from and be filled with. Jesus told Paul, “And you will open their eyes…” that’s what scripture will do for us when we read it- our eyes are opened to who God is and we begin to make that turn from darkness to light.
As we dive into this series on Paul, my prayer for us is that our eyes would be opened even more, that our testimonies would become footprints in the sand propelled forward by a confident and passionate message. Would God fill us with a testimony of faith and boldness and may His word enlighten our hearts to the fullness of the gospel.
“Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!” -Ephesians 3:18 TPT
Author | Emily Goldin