Paul, the great apostle, is bound with chains and under arrest in Jerusalem. He stands on the steps of the Temple and begins to speak to the angry, shouting mob. Motioning with his hand, he quiets the crowd. What he shares (in the Hebrew language) is his personal testimony — the purest sermon a preacher can preach. As has often been noted, Paul shared his story in three parts…
Paul’s life before he met Jesus
Paul’s credentials as a Jewish rabbi were impeccable. He was taught by Rabbi Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers of the Law in the history of Judaism, and groomed to become a Pharisee (v.3). He was a zealous protector of the Law, which is why he hated Christianity so vehemently — he considered Jesus and the followers of His “Way” to be heretics and blasphemers. In his zeal to rid the world of Christians, Paul arrested them, beat them, and put them to death. He even supervised (and enjoyed) the stoning of Stephen. Paul was an intelligent, religious, important man, but so blind and misguided.
How Paul met Jesus
As he was traveling to Damascus to hunt Christians, Paul met Jesus. It was a dramatic, life-changing encounter that he always looked back on as his salvation experience. Flat on his back and blinded by Christ’s glory, his only option was to listen to the Lord and obey His voice.
How Jesus changed Paul’s life
A man named Ananias, Paul’s first Christian friend, came and baptized him and delivered the orders that would determine the course of his life: tell everyone everywhere everything you have seen and heard about Jesus (v.15). Later the Lord gave him more specific instructions, sending him “far away to the Gentiles” (v.21). Obedience to that calling had brought Paul back to Jerusalem where he was arrested and had to appeal to his Roman citizenship to keep from being flogged (v.22-29).
Every Christian testimony is basically the same as Paul’s; only the details are different: “One day I was going somewhere and I met Someone. His name is Jesus. He changed my life, and He can change yours, too!”
Paul’s salvation story was a powerful thing — and so is yours. When you share it, God takes the words of your story and sets them on fire from heaven. Your testimony can change someone else’s life, but only if you share it.
Will you join me in doing something? I am about to stop and pray that God will give me an opportunity today to tell someone my salvation story. Then I am going to trust Him to give me exactly the words to say (and the courage to say them) when the time comes. Following the great tradition of Paul, let’s light up the darkness today with our stories of when we saw the light!