"Thou wouldest fain make me a Christian" (Acts 26:28)
"I heard a voice saying unto me Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 26:14)
The above words, spoken to the same man - Saul of Tarsus, later Paul the Apostle - in the first case by a ruler under the Roman empire, in the second case by Jesus of Nazareth, contain the essentials of a true Christian experience. This Paul was a truly typical Christian, both in the way in which he became one, and in his life as one. While there may not be many who become Christians with the same form or accompaniments of their conversion: we may not have been smitten to the round by a blinding light as we went on some journey, and heard an audible voice from heaven called us by name: yet the principles are always the same. Let us look into these words for the principles.
1. Something Absolutely Personal
"I heard a voice saying unto me ... Saul, Saul ..." There were others travelling with Saul on that day; how many, we do not know. Paul speaks of them as "all" - when we were all fallen to the ground." It would seem that there is quite a number. But Saul was singled out, and what happened was so directly personal that it was as though he were the only man on the earth. He ever afterward spoke of his experience as something extremely personal. The amazing thing to him was that Christ knew him by name, and knew all that was going on inside him.
It is a fact, and a fact which we must realize, that God has a personal and direct interest in us, and a very personal concern for us. The writer had a friend who visited military hospitals. He always carried in his pocket texts to leave with men who might be in need of a little lit of God's Word. Before starting out he used to pray that he might be guided to give the right text to the right man.
On one of these visits, when entering a ward, he looked around, and up in the corner was a bed with a form bandaged so completely that only nose, mouth and ears were uncovered. He was about to approach the bed when the nurse said that it was useless - the man was too far gone to be spoken to. He paused a minute, and then decided to leave a text on the bandaged hands. This he did, without looking to see what the text was. As he was moving away from the bed, a muffled voice said,
"Oh," said my friend, "it is only a little bit of God's Word."
"What does it say?" asked the dying man.
"Let me see - yes, here it is, Proverbs 23:26. It says:
"My son, give me your heart."
"Who said that?" asked the soldier.
"That is from God's Word - the Bible!"
"Read it again," said the wounded man.
"My son, give me thy heart."
Silence for a moment, and then -
"Did you say that is in the Bible?"
"Yes, and God says it to you."
The soldier heaved a sigh, but there was a question in the sigh. My friend waiting a moment and then asked what was perplexing or surprising him.
"Look at the card over my bed," said the soldier.
My friend did so, and was amazed to read, on the card giving his army particulars, the name JACK MYSON
Do you say "accident!" "Coincidence!"" That man was about to pass into eternity, and God spoke to him by name. Again, it may not always be in just the same way; but the fact remains that God has a personal concern for each of us, and a true Christian is one who has come to have such a personal relationship with God as to make it possible for him - or her - to say, as did Paul:
He loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20
I heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul ...
(continued with # 5)