Believing in Jesus Transforms People
Few encounter Christ as vividly as Paul did on the Road to Damascus. But some do. In the early twentieth century, Sundar Singh was bitterly hostile to the gospel. One morning while praying to his Hindu gods, he saw the form of Christ.
A voice said in Hindustani, “How long will you persecute me? I have come to save you. You were praying to know the right way. Why do you not take it?”1 Singh fell at Jesus’ feet. He received a wonderful sense of peace. Extraordinary signs marked his life thereafter.
Believing in Jesus transforms people. Transformation is marked by a changed attitude toward sin and self, changed character and conduct through the Holy Spirit’s power, and a longing to be like Jesus. Part of being transformed is encouraging other believers.
Ananias confirmed Paul’s Christian experience (9:17). He called Paul “brother.” A student leader of a Christian group once challenged me to lead a Bible study. He said he believed that I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure I was. But his encouragement made me want to be filled with the Spirit!
Suppose someone visits your church whose past sins are as numerous as seeds on a strawberry. He professes Christ as Savior and Lord. Will you immediately accept him as a brother or make him prove himself for a year or two?
The disciples in Jerusalem feared Paul and didn’t associate with him (9:26–27). Barnabas came to the rescue. He confirmed Paul’s Christian experience.
Like Paul, you’re saved to serve and tell others. At his conversion Paul totally changed his mind about Jesus. Previously, he tried to stamp out the heresy he believed Jesus had started. But in 9:20 he preached in the synagogues that Christ was the Son of God. That totally amazed the Jews who heard him. What happened to this guy? Jesus was transforming him.
Years ago in Chicago, a drunken man headed toward Lake Michigan to drown himself. Somehow, he stumbled into Pacific Garden Mission. The superintendent cared for him. The next morning, he explained the gospel to him.
That day God’s grace began to transform Harry Monroe. Eventually, he became superintendent of the mission. A newspaper editorial described him as one of the most useful men in Chicago. Conversion is becoming useful to God and others.
Paul was useful to God in Damascus. He wasn’t a flash in the pan wonder. He preached as fervently in Jerusalem as he had in Damascus (9:29).
A professing Christian who isn’t serving God and others is a contradiction. Christianity isn’t a private affair. Real Christians move from the private world of serving self into the public world of encouraging and serving others. Your testimony is your account of that ongoing transformation.
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