It is believed by this student of the Bible that some of the conversion accounts in the book of Acts contain the entire Plan of Salvation in both inferred and direct statements. Last month we looked at the Conversion of the Pentecostians in Acts 2. In this study we will examine the Conversion of Saul (Paul) in Acts 9. As the chapter begins Saul is persecuting the disciples of the Lord indicating that he had heard at least some of the teaching of “that way” (9:2). As the light shined around him and in response to Jesus’ question, Saul asks “Who art thou, Lord?’ Saul is addressing the one in front of him with respect. The response comes to Saul “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…” Upon hearing that, the Biblical record says that Saul was “trembling and astonished.” This is surely belief on the part of Saul. Saul must have thought “These disciples of the one called Christ had been right. He had risen from the grave. He was alive. How could Saul have missed it?” In spite of all the eye and ear witness testimony Saul had been given he had persecuted these people and even worse Jesus said when Saul had persecuted them, he had persecuted Jesus. He had thought he “ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He had been sincere, but had been sincerely wrong.
The next words recorded from Saul were “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Saul this time undoubtedly uses the word “Lord” in an entirely different sense than he had previously. Before Saul had addressed an unknown stranger and had spoken respectfully. Now in the presence of the risen Messiah he uses the term in the sense of one with authority, my Lord and Master. This would indicate confession at this point, hard to miss with the resurrected Son of God standing before one. Saul additionally says “what wilt thou have me to do?” This indicates Saul’s readiness to repent, to change his will to the will of the Savior.
Before proceeding further I wish to make the following point. It is not my intention to imply that it would take a personal appearance of Jesus Christ today in order to bring about belief, confession, and repentance. The purpose of Jesus’ personal appearance to Saul was to qualify him as the last apostle of Christ, see Acts 1:22. In the other conversion accounts in Acts there is no personal appearance of Jesus to bring about conviction or conversion and in fact today we have even more compelling evidence of the Gospel message in the inspired words of the New Testament. Saul was convicted on the road to Damascus by the evidence before him confirming the testimony he had heard. Today we have the evidence of the multiple miracles and testimony of multiple eye and ear witnesses. See John 20:30-31.
Saul in hearing, believing, repenting, and confessing on the road to Damascus had surely been convicted, but he was not yet converted. Jesus said for Saul to “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” There was something more, a must, a requirement. Saul spends three days fasting and praying (again, penitence) and the Lord sends a man named Ananias to Saul and he “arose, and was baptized.” (9:18)
In this account we have the entire plan of salvation presented that all accountable people are required to obey to have their sins forgiven.
Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Be Baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
– Jerry Sturgill