Has God Changed You?

Can the Gospel of Christ
accomplish the impossible? Let’s talk about it in the life of Paul. So Paul, it’s Saul, and
later changed to Paul. So I’m going to just refer
to him as Paul from now on. So Paul is a believer in the true God. He followed Judaism to the nth degree. It says he excelled above his peers. He was the Jew of Jews, basically. He’s like this super-Jew. Everybody, he wouldn’t have
been fun to hang out with. I know that for sure. And he followed all the rules. And he did all the right things. And he was zealous for the truth in purity. And to get rid of anything that is bad. And anything that is muddling
the truth of God in this world. So he was very, very serious about it. And then, to this point. So the Christian church, right
around this time, Pentecost, gets 3,000 new believers. This is a big deal. So we have Jesus rises from the dead. And then 50 days later there’s Pentecost. And it says, at Peter’s sermon, right around that time,
3,000 more believers come. This church is getting bigger
and bigger and bigger. And to the point that it’s going out of Jerusalem to other different places. And how does it go out to
other different places? This is how. So right around that time, they
elect different people to help out. The disciples are doing
all kinds of different stuff. The apostles are doing
all kinds of different stuff to help the widows and things like that. One of the guys they
elect is a guy named Stephen. Well Stephen was a righteous man and upright. The Bible talks about what
an amazing guy he is. And he’s before the authorities, and it’s right there he goes on trial. And during this trial, he
gives this whole history from Abraham all the way to that moment. And he calls him on the carpet for,
basically, you killed the Messiah. He calls them on the carpet that
this is what has happened. They get infuriated and his face is glowing like an angel, it says, and they got so angry that they picked up stones. And they start to, like literally, kill him, or lynch him with these stones. And what happens, is they said they laid
their coats down next to a young man named, you can guess it, Saul or Paul. Here’s a couple other quotes about him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he
dragged off both men and women. Meanwhile, the other spot. Saul was still breathing out murderous
threats against the Lord’s disciples. And to the point that the church starts to spread because there’s persecution in Jerusalem after this first martyr named Stephen. And this church starts to spread
and Paul sees this, right? Just imagine, like, you’ve got a computer
virus on one of your files and it’s like somehow spreading to another file and you’re like,
“I’ve got to contain this.” And that’s what he says. So he gets permission from the High Priest. He’s going to go all the
way to the city of Damascus. And he’s going to chase down these
believers, the followers of The Way. And he’s going to get rid of them. You know, drag them back to prison. So he’s on his way there. This is the most zealous
guy you can imagine. And on his way there, I don’t know if he’s thinking
about like Ezekiel, and this picture of what
does God look like. But, either way, he is there. And he sees Jesus before him. And Jesus asks him a simple question, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” And like a flip of a switch, it’s not really a conversion
in a traditional sense. Right, when I go through
and I teach people the Bible, I see people who don’t understand, maybe they’re agnostic or
maybe they have no idea, or maybe they’re atheists. And they now understand
that Jesus is the Savior. Here’s a guy who would say
he believes in the true God. But now God is going to change him. And so he goes to a guy named Ananias. And Ananias is like,
“I don’t want to talk to this guy. This is Saul, right? The guy who kills people. And he’s chasing after people.” And God says,
“I’ve changed him.” All right, so he’s baptized immediately. And this gives you an idea
of what kind of guy he is. Immediately, he goes out into Damascus and starts preaching
that Jesus is the Messiah. Well, people don’t like this. We don’t know the exact order here. But he preaches immediately. This is the order I like. He goes to Arabia for a while
and he comes back to Damascus. And he starts to teach. So much so that the Jewish people there don’t like it and so they say, “We’re going to kill you.” So they have to let him down in a basket during the night. So he goes to Jerusalem. What do you think he’s
going to do in Jerusalem? He starts preaching that Jesus is the Messiah. And he starts arguing
with these Hellenistic, that means like influenced
by the Greek culture Jews. And he wants to change who they are. And so they get mad and they say, “We’re going to kill you too.” So the Christians now, in Jerusalem, with all this tension of
persecution going around say to Paul, “Listen. You got to go.” I mean, just imagine if like your worst enemy right now became the best friend. Or on the other end, your
closest ally right now becomes one of the enemies. This is like the story of Star Wars, right? The one who is closest becomes the enemy. And how hard that would be. That’s what is happening in Jerusalem. So they send Paul away to a place called Tarsus, his hometown. And we’re going to talk about that tomorrow. And how that really changes. That time is significant. It’s almost a decade
that he spends in Tarsus. What’s our takeaway? Two things. Number one is, and on a lot of levels, it can feel
like God kind of owes me a favor. But it doesn’t matter if you
were persecuting the church or where you’re at. Our own sinfulness means that the only
reason we have a relationship with God is because of straight, his grace. Here’s how Paul says it. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism. How intensely I persecuted the
church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism
beyond many of my own age among my people. And was extremely zealous for the traditions of the fathers. But when God who set me
apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace God has called you by his grace. That’s one. Number two is there is nobody in this world that you know who is more adverse to the Christian faith than the Apostle Paul. And God did the impossible
and changed him around. Let’s pray. Dear Lord, You changed
Paul through your grace. You changed us through your grace. Give us his zeal, his passion, to reach not just the
people that are close to us, our best friends, but instead
let’s reach out into the world where it seems like only your Word can change hearts and see those lives changed
around through the Gospel. So that they, then, just like Paul, can be
missionaries in the world. Amen.


  1. I know that when Jesus changed Saul to Paul, He didn't only change his name but He changed his Life and His way of thinking. I also know that Jesus changed me and y way of Life and thinking too. Thank You Jesus.

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