What is having a conversion experience like? Randall Stroope. Saul of Tarsus is on a mission. He has obtained official paperwork from the high priest authorizing his journey to Damascus. He aims to find followers of Jesus Christ, capture them, and bring them to Jerusalem.
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Finally, we shall attempt to focus on the application of this passage to our own lives. Overall Observations The first thing we shall do is to make some observations on the passage as a whole to attempt to see the forest before we scrutinize the trees. Note the following impressions gained from a reflection on the passage as a whole.
We do not know the exact time when Saul was saved. It would seem not to be there on the road to Damascus. Here, Saul was only told that it was Jesus whom he saw, who was speaking to him, and whom he was persecuting. The details of what was said and done when Ananias arrived are fuzzy.
There is clearly no attempt to establish some kind of pattern or formula for evangelism here, at least as far as methodology is concerned. It almost seems harder to convince Ananias that Saul is or will be a Christian than it is to convert Saul.
In fact, more is written of what Saul said and did because he was saved than is written of what he said and did resulting in his salvation. In our text Ananias was instructed to go to Saul and to lay hands on him so that he might receive his sight The words which Ananias spoke to Saul indicate he was also to lay hands on him so that he would receive the Holy Spirit In spite of this, we are not told here that Saul did receive the Holy Spirit or what happened when he did.
I do not question that he did receive the Spirit, but merely observe that this receiving of the Spirit accompanied by the laying on of hands was not something Luke wanted to emphasize. This silence is instructive, in my opinion. Elsewhere in Acts, such as with the apostles, Stephen and Philip, the message of the gospel was underscored by signs and wonders which accompanied the message.
Nothing is said in our text about any miracles being performed by Saul, as yet. Paul would make much more of this point in the first chapter of Galatians. Saul saw and heard the resurrected Christ. When one looks at all the references to this event, it was, in fact, a personal appearance of the risen, glorified Jesus to Saul cf.
Saul was told at the time of his conversion that God had chosen him to bear witness to the Gentiles, to kings, and to the Jews Saul, like Stephen, was a Hellenistic Jew. Saul, like Stephen, spoke with such power and authority that his opponents could not refute him. Saul, like Stephen, had a ministry which focused on the Hellenistic Jews. Like Stephen, the enemies of the gospel attempted to kill Saul when they could not silence him by means of debate.
While Paul may not have brought about the execution of all those whom he arrested, including women as well as men verse 2 , verse 1 strongly suggests that this was his desire and ambition. Indeed, God would reveal His sovereignty by using Saul to further the gospel, first by his opposition which scattered the church and spread the gospel , and then by his conversion which resulted in his powerful proclamation of Jesus as Messiah.
This light would thus have been very bright indeed. It was bright enough to bring about a period of blindness. It was almost as though Saul had looked intently into the beam of an intensely powerful carbon-act light, the kind used as search lights. This light was more, much more, than just a bright light. Frequent biblical texts speak of God in terms of light: You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game Psalm He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent Psalm Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.
To him be honor and might forever. Amen 1 Timothy He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him Daniel In the end, God Himself will provide the illumination so that the sun and the stars will not be needed for this function: The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted Isaiah The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory Isaiah Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end Isaiah The light of a lamp will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray Revelation The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it Revelation There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever Revelation Israel was called of God and set apart to proclaim the way of salvation to the Gentiles. They too rebelled against God and forsook His word and persecuted His prophets.
What Israel failed to do, Jesus, the Messiah would do. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles Isaiah After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities Isaiah Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness Micah There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light Matthew In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world John , This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness John Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard Isaiah Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn Isaiah When Saul was confronted on the road to Damascus, he saw the risen, glorified Lord.
The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, … 26 Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.
Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. The blindness to which Saul was subject for three days provided him with much time for reflection, meditation, and prayer. But his blindness was symbolic of his condition. At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you Deuteronomy And look, you blind, that you may see.
Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead Isaiah Now they grope through the streets like men who are blind.
They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments Lamentations Leave them; they are blind guides. This blindness was only removed by faith in Christ, a miracle brought about by divine action: In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see Isaiah Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped Isaiah To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness Isaiah It was just such a miracle which gave Saul his spiritual sight, as he received back his physical sight.
This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician for thus his name is translated was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.
Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord Acts Just as Saul was stopped short by his blindness, so was Bar-Jesus.
In an electronic publication, Stroope states that even though he had dabbled in composition since the age of ten, it was not until he wrote The Cloths of Heaven, and Inscription of Hope, that he began to gain recognition. That sort of catapulted my career compositionally. I was soon being asked to write pieces and conduct those works with the groups that commissioned them. Through conducting, you learn about what works in composition. Mentors and contemporaries[ edit ] Cecil Effinger and Normand Lockwood , mentors of Stroope, are well-respected American composers. Normand Lockwood won the prestigious Prix de Rome , a scholarship given the select students within the arts, which allowed him to study in Rome. Nadia Boulanger, became one of the most influential music theory teachers of the twentieth century, one of her first pupils being American composer Aaron Copland.
Z. Randall Stroope
The Conversion of Saul
What is having a conversion experience like?