Cell phone technology is regarded as a miraculous achievement. Its impact has affected the fabric of all cultures throughout the world. I can think of no aspect of our modern world that has not been influenced or changed by it. As technology leaps forward, change is inevitable. Regardless of this fact, one thing has remained the same throughout the span of time. And that is human nature. Is there anything or anyone who can bring about real and lasting change in human nature?
The Scriptures reveal a compassionate Creator who promises to do exactly that — change our selfish human natures into loving, selfless natures, but ONLY with our permission. God’s success in doing so is nothing short of miraculous! People seem to be fascinated by miracles. Others simply do not believe there is such a thing as a real miracle. Is there sufficient evidence to bring deep conviction regarding God’s ability to miraculously change us from the selfish creatures that we are? And is there any way to discern between the genuine and the counterfeit signs and wonders so prevalent in the religious world today?
Let’s consider the case of a man named “Saul, who also is called Paul” in Acts 13:9. In Saul’s time, it was customary to have dual names. Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul was his Roman name. He was born and raised as a Jew in Tarsus, a province in Turkey. He described himself: “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4–6).
According to his own admission, Saul was, at least, a zealot. We are better acquainted with the word “extremist.” More than that, he was a terrorist: “A person using unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”¹ He was engaged in the killing of those who were perceived as enemies. So he was also a murderer. He was convinced that this ‘Christ’ and His followers were determined to overthrow his beloved Jewish religion. The Scripture record verifies that Saul was such a person. “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:9,10). This is verified again in Acts 22 verses 19 and 20, “in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death.” Saul was a hardcore hater of Christ and his disciples — rough material for God to work with. But God looked far beyond the unpromising exterior of Saul and saw what no human could possibly see; that Saul could become God’s premier “globe trotter” to bring the Glad Tidings of the gospel of Christ to Jew and heathen alike. We might reasonably react, “This terrorist? No way!”
Here are some details: When Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1) on the road to Damascus, he was confronted by Christ Himself. “Suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’” (Acts 9:3–5).
Saul was knocked down and struck blind for three days— a physical token of his spiritual blindness. As this miraculous event unfolded, God instructed one of His disciples in Damascus, Ananias, to go where Saul was staying. Saul prayed and Ananias came. He laid hands on Saul who then received not only his physical sight, but also his ‘spiritual’ sight. The Bible record says: “Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once, and he arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18). This intense, hate-filled murderer had a personal encounter with the God who loved him and longed for his whole-hearted acceptance. Saul would never be the same again.
“Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The fact is that Paul was re-born or “…born from above” (John 3:3 margin). He was supernaturally charged with God’s transforming grace and forever changed by a ‘new heart’ transplant performed by the Great Physician. His selfish human nature, which drove him to seek out and persecute the true believers in Jesus the Messiah, was replaced with a new nature, like that of His Savior. He no longer exercised his selfish, vindictive traits of character. He became a compassionate, gentle, and merciful Paul, longing only to serve God with all his heart and soul. Now God could personally teach him and open the eyes of his understanding regarding the true meaning of the Scriptures he was so thoroughly acquainted with.
Before, Paul knew just the content of the Scriptures. Now, he knew the Author of those Scriptures. God would use him to write 13 epistles or letters to the young churches that Paul would personally raise up and oversee. He went on to compose some of the most inspiring and outstanding writings concerning the Messiah and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ to all who would believe. Presently, untold millions are still inspired and encouraged to exercise faith in Christ by reading Paul’s letters. We can say absolutely that Paul’s conversion was a miracle in the truest sense of the word and that only an Almighty Savior could perform it.
This occurred 2,000 years ago. Can it still happen today? Absolutely! It is happening now. However, true conversion is not characterized by an overwhelming, sensational demonstration of signs, miracles, and wonders where the changed life character is ignored or neglected. There is a band of believers around the world who are experiencing true Bible conversion. This miracle of conversion is demonstrated by a deep heart brokenness and conviction by the Holy Spirit regarding the sins we have practiced. It is accompanied by a turning away from breaking God’s Law and, instead, following Christ’s example of obedience. We need to remember that it was our sins that crushed the heart and life of our precious Savior, Jesus, on the cross. Genuine conversion brings with it a changed life. Being truly converted means receiving a new nature from Christ.
Call to Action
The old, sinful nature must die, and
we must be surrendered to Christ as Paul describes in Galatians 2. This
surrender of self is the true sign of conversion—the real miracle of the 21st
century that all sincere believers must seek whole-heartedly right now. We can
be that living miracle to show the world that God is indeed the One True Miracle-Worker.
- Oxford Languages.https://languages.oup.com providing Google’s English dictionary.
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.