Acts 22:6-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.
7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’
8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid,[a] but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.
10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’
11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there,
13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him.
14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.
15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
Life is full of decisions! All are important.
--We make decisions; decisions make us. Choose well.
--The greatest decision - "be born again" in Jesus.
--This choice is for this life, and all eternity.
--It affects everything else we do. Will guide us.
--Will greatly determine our success, joy and peace.
The second most important, in my opinion, is the decision for a life's companion.
--The one you want to love, and live with, and make happy, "till death do us part," we vow before God.
--Marriage is for life. Jesus as Savior is forever.
--Then comes decisions for a career, place to live.
--And numerous other decisions that come our way.
You are loved of God, my friend. So special to Him.
--Be grateful for His love, and others, always.
--For godly, saved grandparents and parents, if so.
--I was baptized and confirmed by my grandfather.
--Later in the Navy in the war, Jesus was more real.
--I yielded all to Jesus, as my Lord, and Savior.
--A decision I could live with - and you could, too.
St. Paul had a religious life. A Pharisee. Strict.
--Well educated. Ritualistic. Most zealous.
--He was not a Christian. Was against His followers.
--He persecuted them. Imprisoned them. Intolerant.
--Paul helped put St. Stephen to death as the first Christian martyr, and heard Stephen pray, "Lord do not charge them with this sin" (Acts 7:59).
--It was like Jesus prayed on the cross, "Father for give them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23: 34). He needed to make life's greatest decision.
--Paul began to see the light. More was to come.
En route to Damascus to harass other believers, Jesus met Paul, and Paul "Saw a great light from heaven, he fell to the ground." That Light was Jesus!
--He heard the voice of Jesus, "Why are you persecuting Me?" He felt he was only harming believers!
--Asked, "Who are You, Lord?" "I am Jesus ..."
Three times in the Book of Acts Paul's conversion is recorded, a most dramatic life change, indeed.
--A decision He could live with - and I, and you.
--Paul saw he needed what only Jesus could do.
--What Jesus wants us all to do, "Be born again."
Paul saw the light, so bright; and followed Jesus.
--Listen to Annanias (22:16), "Be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
--So Paul did. Baptism follows forgiven, salvation.
Some may think, the Lord has not appeared to me.
--Nor has He come, and spoken, to me like that.
--Perhaps not in person. But God does speak to us.
--Through His Holy Word, the Bible. In a sermon.
--In a song. By His Spirit. Many ways, or kindness.
--Are we listening? Responding? Believing? As he?
--That great day, Paul listened. And he obeyed.
--Forever after, where he went, was a better world!
Mark your Bible in Acts 22:14-16, for six things:
1. "God has chosen you" - chooses all to be saved.
2. "You should know His will." Whose? God's will.
3. "See the Just One." Paul saw, heard - Jesus.
4. "Hear the voice of His mouth" - God's Word.
5. "Be His witness to all men" - to tell others.
6. "Be baptized" - like Jesus was. Pleases God.
Paul says, "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." He made a great decision. The right one.
God has many ways of addressing us. Many avenues.
--How many does it take for some of us to believe?
--To surrender all to the Lord Jesus, as Savior.
Over the world, John and Charles Wesley are admired.
--We've visited their churches and home, in Bristol, and London, England - worshiping, and touring.
--I was deeply impressed with those in Bristol.
I spent a good part of an afternoon, all around the inside, the altar, pulpit - and the outside.
--I felt, in a way, I was walking on holy ground.
--For the soul-winning, hymns, and life they lived.
--Over the sanctuary, in Bristol, are rooms for John and Charles Wesley; and for Adam Clarke.
--It was where Adam Clarke wrote much of his excellent Bible Commentary, that I recommend to students.
--In it, Clarke says that Paul's conversion is most remarkable. All are! But especially that of Paul.
--Why? Because of his background.. the manner it was brought about .. the change in his life .. and work he did so tirelessly in evangelism and missions .. as well as the valuable letters that comprise much of the New Testament. Amazing influence, even today!
All brought about by a changed life, By the Savior.
--Friend, no one can argue with a changed life.
--That is as near proof-positive as one can get.
--Yet a changed life, without Christ, means little.
--The key is "Being born again" by faith' in Christ.
It was a decision of which Paul firmly knew was real.
--There was no "hope so," or "maybe so." He "knew so!"
--Paul documents it precisely. A good thing to do.
--He tells when he was converted - "about noon" (v 6).
--He tells where it happened - "near Damascus."
--He tells how- "a great light from heaven" - Jesus.
--He tells who,- "I heard a voice, 'Saul, why are you persecuting Me .. I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom you are persecuting.' " He gives us the details.
God has so much love .. so many blessings .. in Jesus.
--To share with you. Beginning with our conversion.
Maybe you are not sure you are saved. Do make sure.
--My dear friend, if we are saved, I think we know it.
--If we are alive, we know it. Married, we know it.
--We know most everything else pertinent to life.
--Why not to be able to know we are saved? We can.
--Paul knew. "I know," he wrote, "whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (II Tim. 1:12).
All religions - especially Christianity - are coming under attack in a rash of books promoting atheism.
--An atheist is one who believes there is no God.
--It is not new, but it is gaining strength.
Atheists and unbelievers may doubt and reject the Lord.
--But they take an awful risk, of the consequences.
--To deny God is like a mouse denying the elephant.
--The more I learned of God's Word the stronger is God.
Let me share more of why it's life's greatest decision.
I. BECAUSE OF ITS INCLUSION - "WHOSOEVER WILL."
--The Gospel of salvation is available to everyone.
--Not many things are for everyone. But Jesus is.
--"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
--All races. Rich, poor; young, old, whoever believes.
--God can save anybody, but we must make the decision!
--We must pay for our sins, or accept Jesus' payment on the cross and resurrection, so all may live in Him.
II. IT IS LIFE'S GREATEST DECISION, FOR OUR SALVATION.
--Because, in Jesus, we have forgiveness, fellowship.
--We have salvation, assurance of life everlasting.
--No other Savior, or religion, compares with Christ.
Physical life, and birth, is God's marvelous gift.
--We are born .. grow up .. grow old, then what?
--God's salvation is for the here, and hereafter!
--What we go after, here decides where we go hereafter.
--The benefits of God's salvation are marvelous!
III. IT IS THE GREATEST DECISION FOR ITS DURATION.
--It is forever, and forever - life without an end.
--Some may think death ends all, but certainly not.
--It is life everlasting, at its best; never grow old!
--With no infirmities! No, medications. No deaths.
--My friend, the older one gets the better it is!
IV. IT IS THE GREATEST, BECAUSE OF ITS DESTINATION.
--There are two places we go, make sure of heaven.
--It is a place "Jesus has gone .. to prepare for us, and He will come again and receive us" (John 14).
--I want to be sure to go there. I want you there.
--Revelation 21 says of it, "No more sin, sufferings, sorrows, separations." All the things we'd like!
The decision is yours. What'll it be? Follow Jesus.
--May God's love lead us!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 819