Paul’s Conversion

I think I actually once told someone I didn’t have a testimony, because I’d grown up in the church. I was wrong, of course. But I think we all know the really successful testimonies are the ones that go something like this:

  • Things were really bad.
  • I got saved.
  • Things got really good.

I was thinking about this recently when I read the account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. It doesn’t really fit the pattern. In fact, you don’t even really get the impression that Paul was all that thrilled about “getting saved.” He was terrified, knocked blind, and didn’t eat or drink for 3 days afterward. It wasn’t too long before he was having to flee for his life, a pattern that continued for the next three decades.

Paul’s conversion seems to have been a whole lot about the fear of God and not very much about him being at the end of his rope and Jesus making things better.

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Comments

  1. Yeah, this is true of many OT believers as well.

    However, looking back on his life from a later date is when Paul starts to sound more like the modern evangelist, particularly with his discourse in Romans 5-8 where he highlights the life-changing power of the Gospel to free him from the Sin that was inherent in one who was formerly in Adam as opposed to now in Christ.

    I think it is his passages like this and others (Philippians and Ephesians come to mind) that led to the modern emphasis on the positive benefits and life-change aspects of the Gospel’s acceptance.

    My 2 denarii,
    JMS

  2. Oh yeah, we should definitely point to the good news of the gospel and its outworking. I’m just suggesting we’re a little one-sided. “Fear of God” passages sound strange to us because we don’t normally talk like that in the evangelical world. And our gospel presentations are a lot more “look at all the good things that will happen” (which is true) than “repent and believe.” I’m pushing for both-and, not either-or.

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