The Review and Herald


March 23, 1911

From Persecutor to Disciple—No. 2


The conversion of Saul was marked with heartfelt repentance, thorough confession, and an earnest longing for pardon of sin. Prior to his conversion, Saul had been proud and self-confident; now he was bowed down with sorrow and shame; he abhorred himself because of the suffering he had brought upon the disciples of Jesus. In the light of the revelation that had come to him, he began to see himself as the chief of sinners. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 1

Saul yielded himself fully to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. With eyes anointed by the grace of God, he saw the mistakes of his life, and recognized the far-reaching claims of the law of God. He who had been a proud Pharisee, confident that he was justified by his good works, now bowed before God with the humility and simplicity of a little child, confessing his own unworthiness, and pleading the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Saul longed to come into full harmony and communion with the Father and the Son; and in the intensity of his desire for pardon, he offered up fervent supplications to the throne of grace. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 2

The prayers of the penitent Pharisee were not in vain. The inmost thoughts and emotions of his sin-corrupted heart were transformed by divine grace. The nobler faculties of the soul were brought into harmony with the eternal purposes of God. Christ and his righteousness became to Saul more than the whole world. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 3

The conversion of Saul is a striking evidence of the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of the error of his way. Saul had verily believed that Jesus of Nazareth had disregarded the law of God, and had taught the disciples that it was now of no effect. But at the time of his conversion, Saul recognized Jesus as the divine One who had come into the world for the express purpose of vindicating his Father's law. Saul was convinced that Jesus was the originator of the entire Jewish system of sacrifices. He saw that at the time of the crucifixion, type had met antitype; in Jesus had been fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Redeemer of Israel. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 4

Jesus, whose name above all others Saul had most hated and despised, revealed himself to Saul for the purpose of arresting him in his mad career, and of making, from this most unpromising subject, a powerful instrumentality by which to bear the gospel to the Gentiles. When Saul perceived that in opposing Jesus of Nazareth he had been arraying himself against the Messiah, he was overwhelmed with horror, and in the agony of his soul he cried out, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Jesus did not at once tell him of the work that had been assigned him, but sent him for instruction to the very disciples who had been so bitterly persecuted. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 5

The marvelous light that illuminated the darkness of Saul was the work of the Lord; but there was also a work that was to be done for him by the disciples of Christ. The answer to Saul's question was, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Jesus sent the inquiring Jew to his church, to obtain from them a knowledge of his duty. Christ had performed the work of revelation and conviction; and now the penitent was in a condition to learn of those whom God had ordained to teach his truth. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 6

While Saul in solitude continued in prayer and supplication at the home of Judas, the Lord appeared in vision to “a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias,” telling him that Saul of Tarsus was praying, and in need of help. “Arise,” the heavenly messenger bade Ananias, “and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 7

Ananias could scarcely credit the words of the angel messenger; for the reports of Saul's bitter persecution of the saints at Jerusalem had spread far and near. He presumed to expostulate. “Lord,” he answered, “I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” But the command to Ananias was imperative: “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 8

The disciple, obedient to the direction of the angel, sought out the man who had but recently breathed out threatenings against all who believed on the name of Jesus. Putting his hands on the head of the penitent sufferer, Ananias said: “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 9

“And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 10

Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independently of his recognized followers on earth. But in the history of the conversion of Saul, important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. He was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a “chosen vessel” unto him; yet the Lord did not immediately impart to him the lessons of truth. He arrested his course and convicted him; but when asked by him, “What wilt thou have me to do?” the Saviour placed him in connection with his church, and let them direct him what to do. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 11

Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of his organized church, and placed Saul in connection with his representatives on earth. All blessings flow from Christ, but he had now established a church as his representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 12

Jesus is the friend of sinners; his heart is touched by their woe; he has all power, both in heaven and upon earth; but he respects the means that he has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; he directs sinners to the church, which he has made a channel of light to the world. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 13

Saul was a learned teacher in Israel; but when in the midst of his blind error and prejudice, he is given a revelation of the Christ whom he is persecuting, he is placed in direct communication with the church, which is the light of the world. In this case Ananias represents Christ, and also represents Christ's ministers upon earth, who are appointed to act in his stead. In Christ's stead, Ananias places his hands upon him, and, praying in Christ's name, Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and by the authority of Christ. Christ is the foundation; the church is the channel of communication. RH March 23, 1911, Art. A, par. 14