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The Signs of the Times

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    November 10, 1898

    The Conversion of Paul

    EGW

    In the conversion of Paul are given important principles which we should ever bear in mind. Many have received the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His acknowledged followers in the world. But Christ's manner of dealing with Saul at his conversion shows this to be an error.ST November 10, 1898, par. 1

    Saul had reasoned that the believers in Christ were ignorant and poor; that they were possessed of little intellectual culture, and were lacking in the high moral endowments which would enable them to succeed in difficult enterprises. He claimed that they were sustained by no special authority. But God, who looks into the tiny seed which He Himself has formed, and sees wrapped within it the beautiful flower, the shrub, or the lofty, widespreading tree, saw the ignorance of Saul in regard to the mission and work of Christ. He saw that he was conscientiously bigoted; that he was blinded in his misunderstanding of Christ and of His followers; that he needed another kind of education.ST November 10, 1898, par. 2

    Saul had an abundance of energy and zeal to work out an erroneous faith in persecuting the saints of God, confining them in prisons, and putting them to death. His hand did not do the work of murder; but he had a voice in the decisions, and zealously sustained them. He prepared the way, and gave the believers of the Gospel into the hands that took their lives.ST November 10, 1898, par. 3

    In doing this work Saul honestly thought he was prosecuting an ignorant, fanatical sect. He did not realize that he himself was the deluded and deceived one, and that he was ignorantly following the banner of the prince of darkness. “Yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against the disciples of the Lord, Saul appealed, not to the lower, ignorant class, but to the highest religionists in the world, the men who had acted a part in putting Christ to death, who possessed the spirit and sentiment of Caiaphas and his confederacy. If, thought Saul, these great men had religious, determined helpers, they would certainly put down this little handful of fanatical men. So to the high priest Saul went, “and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” In reference to this zeal Paul himself says that he was “exceedingly mad against them.” “I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.”ST November 10, 1898, par. 4

    But the miraculous revelation of Christ brought light into the darkened chambers of Saul's mind. Jesus of Nazareth, against whom he was arrayed, was revealed to him as the Redeemer of the world. Then Paul saw his mistaken zeal, and cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Jesus did not there and then tell him, as He might have done, the work that He had assigned him. Paul was to receive instruction in the Christian faith, and move understandingly; and Christ sent him to learn of the disciples whom he had been so bitterly persecuting. The very men he had been purposing to destroy were to be his instructors in the religion he had despised and persecuted.ST November 10, 1898, par. 5

    The light of heavenly illumination had taken away Paul's eyesight, and Jesus, the great Healer of the blind, did not immediately restore it. To the question of Paul He said, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Jesus could not only have healed Paul of his blindness, but He could have forgiven his sins and told him his duty. From Christ all power and mercies were to flow, but He did not give Paul, in his conversion to truth, an experience independent of the church recently organized upon the earth.ST November 10, 1898, par. 6

    Saul having been directed to go to Damascus, was led thither by the men who had accompanied him to help bring the disciples bound to Jerusalem. At Damascus he tarried with Judas, devoting the time to fasting and prayer. Here his faith was tested. For three days he was in darkness of mind in regard to what was required of him; and for three days he was without sight. In his uncertainty he cried earnestly to God. His pride was gone. A little before he had been self-confident, thinking he was engaged in a good work, for which he would receive a reward; but all was now changed. He was humbled to the dust in penitence and shame. His supplications for pardon were fervent.ST November 10, 1898, par. 7

    Then an angel was sent to Ananias, directing him to go to the house where Paul was praying. The angel informed the servant of God that Saul had seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand upon him, that he might receive his sight. “Go thy way,” said the angel, speaking in the name of Christ; “for he is chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”ST November 10, 1898, par. 8

    Ananias obeyed the direction of the angel. Upon the man so recently filled with hatred toward the disciples he laid his hands, saying, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales, and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”ST November 10, 1898, par. 9

    Jesus might have done all this for Paul directly, but this was not His plan. Paul had something to do in the way of confession to the men whose destruction he had premeditated. Paul was to take the steps necessary in conversion. He was to unite himself to the people whom he had persecuted for their religion; and God had a responsible work for His servants to do in His stead.ST November 10, 1898, par. 10

    Christ here gives all His people an example of the manner of His working for the salvation of men. The Son of God identifies Himself with His organized church. His blessings are to come through the agencies He has ordained, and He desires men to connect themselves with this channel of blessing.ST November 10, 1898, par. 11

    The light and power and glory that had arrested Paul at his conversion did not cease its operations upon him after he was converted to believe in Christ as the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. He became an effectual missionary worker. He proclaimed the truth as it is in Jesus. He was a clear, eloquent speaker, and could meet his adversaries on almost any ground on which they chose to approach him. He met every class of people, from men of renown to the heathen idolaters, setting before them the evidences of Christianity. His religion came from God, and no power on earth could extinguish the light of Heaven.ST November 10, 1898, par. 12

    Listen to the testimony of the persecutor, after his conversion. Addressing the church in Galatia he said: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But tho we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.... For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”ST November 10, 1898, par. 13

    Mrs. E. G. White

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