Saul knew the scriptures from a legalistic point of view, but he had no spiritual understanding. Upon encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus, he was physically blinded, but that was when Saul began to “see” truth.
Following the Lord’s instruction, Saul went to Damascus, where for three days, he prayed and fasted. During this time the Lord gave him a vision that a man named Ananias would come and place his hands on him, and his sight would be restored.
While Saul was praying, the Lord was already working out the answer. He called to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to Saul. When Ananias “reminded” the Lord that Saul was persecuting His people, the Lord told him He had chosen Saul to carry His name before the nations.
Ananias was obedient and went and found Saul (in a city with a population of approximately 80,000!). When he placed his hands on Saul, the Holy Spirit completely convicted Saul, scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. Then, he got up and was baptized.
Saul, who later became known as Paul, then spent several days with Jesus’ disciples; and, to everyone’s astonishment, he began preaching in the synagogues and “baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” (v. 22)
Brother Larry Odom used this passage of scripture to lead into his message about the kind of baptism Paul preached. He first explained that three major events in the Old Testament teach us what spiritual baptism should be. They are God’s covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In each of these covenants, God called, He separated, and He gave new life.
As Saul/Paul prayed and fasted for those three days, his pride was broken and his spirit was crushed. As his mind searched for the truth, his heart sought out the reality of Christ. He realized that God had called him to leave his past of hate, murder, blasphemy, and unbelief. He came to the understanding that all his former accomplishments meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was that he needed the Lord’s mercy. As soon as he cried out for mercy and salvation, the Lord heard his plea and began the answer while Saul was still praying!
In 1Corinthians:10, we are warned that God was displeased with the majority of those who passed through the sea with Moses because they failed to demonstrate separation in their lives. An effectual baptism will transform the way a person lives his or her life. It will cause that person to desire to do the will of God and to know Him personally and in such a way that he or she can grasp an eternal view.
God has a plan with a timetable, and each of us is going to be a part of that timetable, for good, or for bad. Those who have been circumcised in our mind and heart will turn away from the world and follow the Lord. It is not a denominational thing. It is a thing of faith, exercising faith, obedience.
Therefore, we must learn how to pray. This means talking and listening, communicating with the living Lord, so that we can discern His will for our individual lives. He loves and cares for His children and wants to help each one of us be the best we can be. Obedience means living under His direction and guidance.
Brother Larry Odom and the members of Choate Baptist Church invite you to join us for Sunday School at 9:45 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., and our Sunday and Wednesday Evening Services at 7 p.m.