BIBLE READING: ACTS 22
19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Paul was giving a “defense” to the chief captain there in Jerusalem after he had been arrested. Everyone had begged Paul not to go because of the dangers he would face, but Paul went anyway, and Paul was arrested. As Paul was giving his testimony to everyone that was gathered, he recalls something and someone that had impacted his life greatly before he became a follower and minister of Christ. He speaks of the murder of Stephen.
Paul was on top of the world at that time. He was a successful enforcer of spiritual law. He had created havoc in the early church, persecuting and imprisoning Christians. Paul had quite a reputation. All the followers of Christ feared his total commitment to the cause of capturing believers. Paul could not be stopped. That is, until he was traveling the road to Damascus. And then Paul came face-to-face with God. As Paul was humbled and changed by the grace of God, he was also impacted by the death of Stephen. Paul was there in person and witnessed as Stephen was murdered for the cause of Christ. Paul was pushing for his death as much as anyone. Paul even kept Stephen’s garment as a trophy that day. But there was something about that dedicated, humble servant of God, Stephen. Paul saw something real in him that deep down he knew was not in himself. Now, after all that has happened, Paul is the one now bound and testifying of Christ to others.
Paul was a living example of a heart that was changed. Paul was a living example of a mind that was changed. Paul was a living example of a life that was changed. Just imagine the change from cheering on the death of a Christian, to being willing to give your life for the cause of Christ. What kind of change has God brought into your life? How far has the Lord brought you? It would do us all good to remember today all that the Lord has done in our lives. Paul says, in verse 19, that he told the Lord all the bad that he had done, and yet the Lord in verse 21 calls Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles. May we thank God today that he takes us from where we were and changes us into what he wants us to be. That’s why the Bible calls it “so great salvation”.