Many quickly say, "That is an easy question. Everyone knows he was saved in Acts 9." Let me ask you another question. Was it when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus or three days later on the street called Straight? Before you answer that question, you need to examine Paul's own testimony in the Bible. (Acts 22)
Several years ago as a young preacher, I preached a message on Seven Reasons Why Paul Was Saved On The Road To Damascus. Today I cannot even remember the seven reasons. The reason I preached that message was because I had heard someone else preach a similar message. From my thinking and understanding of the scripture at the time, I thought it was a good solid message that would help others. But since that time, I have studied the scripture and in so doing, I came across Paul's testimony in Acts 22 where he told about Ananias coming to him and what he said in verses 13-16: "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Take a careful look at verse 16. Ananias, who had been sent by the Lord to Paul, (Acts 9:10-12) told Paul (Acts 22:16) to "wash away his sins by calling on the name of the Lord." This verse reveals that Paul's sins had not yet been washed away. Therefore, by his own testimony, Paul was saved on the street called Straight in Damascus three days after encountering Jesus on the Damascus' road.
If we would be honest we must too admit most of what we preach and practice is due to tradition. Col. 2:8 warns not to be spoiled or captured by tradition. You may say, "But I have many reasons to believe he was saved on the road to Damascus. Let us look at some of them.
First reason: Paul called Jesus, Lord in Acts 9:5-6 and Rom. 10:13 states that "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." "Lord" can be used as a respectful title. The same Greek word "kurios" was translated "Sir" in John 4:11,19 as the Woman at the well gave Jesus a title of respect. Also Paul called Jesus "kurios" (Greek). Many use Rom. 10:13 as a basis of salvation without understanding what it means "to call Jesus Lord." I Cor. 12:3b states, "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." This means that the Holy Ghost must work His work of reproval (Holy Ghost conviction, John 16:8-11) which brings a person to the end of himself thus working repentance so the individual worked on can repent. At this point "Lord" is no more a title of respect, or just a word, but a commitment to Jesus as his Lord (Master; controller). This did not happen to Paul on the Damascus road.
Second reason: When Ananias came to Paul, he called him "brother" (Acts 9:17), because he was saved. Paul in the synagogue in Antioch addressed those present as "brethren" and they were not saved. (Acts 13:26) The same thing occurred in Acts 22:1 where he gives his testimony to a multitude of Jews and they were not saved for they rejected him when he mentioned going unto the Gentiles in Acts 22:21-23. Again he called the Sanhedrin "brethren" in Acts 23:1 and they were not saved. His use of "brethren" was in the sense of them as well as himself being a descendant of Abraham. Ananias could have called Paul "brother" for this same reason or he could have done so knowing the Lord was going to save him because of what He had already told him in Acts 9:15-16. But by Paul's own testimony in Acts 22, Ananias called Paul "brother" in verse 13 before his sins had been washed away (verse 16).
Third reason: He had to be saved before he was baptized. I agree. Paul fills us in on what Ananias said in Acts 22 while Acts 9:18 leaves out the details. Paul was saved before he was baptized and his baptism did not wash away his sins.
The Word of God destroys a lot of tradition. I have no problem (now that this Scripture has been opened to me) with when and where Paul was saved. It was on the street called Straight three days after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. You may ask, "What was he doing those three days?" Just what our Lord describes in Luke 14:25-33--counting the cost.
Paul tells us of this in Phil. 3:4-8. For three days after he came face to face with the reality of who Jesus was, he had to count the cost. He knew what he had inflicted upon the followers of Christ. Some he had killed. Some he had put in prison. He was a great persecutor of the followers of Christ. As he sat there in Damascus on the street called Straight, he had to decide whether he was willing to suffer as a follower of Christ. Was he willing to go to prison? For three days he counted the cost and came to the conclusion that Christ was worth more than all his Jewish pedigree. Let me say, the only way he came to that conclusion was by the work of the Holy Spirit. And just at the right time God had His human instrument, Ananias, come with a message from Him. (The human instrument has to cross every person's path that will be saved. This is God's way. (Acts 8:31; Rom. 10:13-15; I Cor. 3:5)
The cost must be counted. In John 6, Jesus placed demands upon a large multitude and they were not willing to pay the price. They walked off and we never find a place where they were saved. (John 6:53, 60, 66) Also the rich young ruler was not willing to sell his goods and give to the poor. (Mark 10:21-22) He rejected the Lord Jesus, because he was not willing to pay the price. But Paul was willing and he got saved. What about you? Are you willing to count the cost and forsake all that Jesus may be your Lord and Saviour? Notice I said Lord and Saviour, not Saviour and Lord. He must be your Lord before he will be your Saviour!
When and where was Paul saved? He was saved on the street called Straight in Damascus three days after his Damascus road experience. You do not have to take my word but you need to believe God's Word!!!
THE PERSUADER - February-March, 1996