How To Start Well
Running the Christian race has been likened to a boy learning to ride a bicycle. If he gets a good shove at the start it is a great help toward his continuing without falling. For those who have recently trusted Christ, great importance is placed on the early formative years, because they affect the whole future life of the Believer.
One is impressed with this in considering the case of Saul of Tarsus, who rose to become the great Apostle Paul, a chosen vessel who became a mighty influence in the Church, whose written ministry, inspired by the Spirit of God, has been of such priceless import to the saints all through the ages.
The account of his conversion, given in Acts 9, follows the pattern of Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord (Revised Version), and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Stricken on the road to Damascus, Saul realized that the One Whose Name he had sought to blot out was even then living in Heaven, for God had raised Him from the dead. When he heard the voice of Jesus speaking to Him, all unbelief vanished in a moment.
Seeing Him as seated on the throne of Heaven, Saul readily owned Jesus as his Lord, as revealed in his words, “Who art thou, Lord?” Thus the once-blaspheming persecutor of the Church was saved and became himself a part of that Church.
Saul bowed to the Lordship of Christ not only in word but also by deed, for he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Here is one of the first marks of a truly saved person. His heart desires to do that which will be pleasing to the Lord, whereas once he went in his own way, according to the dictates of his own heart.
For a good start in the Christian life it is important for the young convert to seek always to learn the will of the Lord for him. This will necessitate a careful and prayerful reading of the Bible, for within its pages is revealed the will of God for all who are His own. Even though Ecclesiastes 12:12 says that much study is a weariness of the flesh, patient persistence will pay good dividends. Heed the exhortation of 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.”
When Ananias was sent to the street which is called Straight (Acts 9:11) to enquire for Saul, he was given evidence of the reality of his conversion, for the Lord said, “Behold, he prayeth.” It is as natural for a newborn soul to want to pray as it is for a tiny infant to cry. Indeed, what a privilege to be able to talk to our Heavenly Father at any time, and at all times, knowing that He tenderly bows His ear to hear and to give answers according to His will.
The habit of prayer must be developed, and nothing of the world must be permitted to hinder that regular daily bowing of the knee when alone in the presence of the Lord. If this line of communication be broken, the strongest saint will become as weak as any other man and the Devil will have opportunity to make him fall.
Another evidence of divine life in the new convert is seen in Saul’s desire for the companionship and fellowship of ethers of like precious faith. (See Acts 9:19). This agrees with the words of 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” On the other hand, one who is saved discovers that there is a division between himself and those who are unconverted, and his newly-begotten love for Christ leads him to separate himself from all those who are the enemies of the Gospel of His grace.
When Saul was persecuted, he left Damascus and went up to Jerusalem. There, once more, he sought out the saints and desired to become one with them. However, they did not readily receive him until they were satisfied that there had been a change in his life, for they had known him previously as a persecutor of the Church. Any young believer seeking fellowship should be content to wait until all in the assembly are convinced that he has been delivered from his former sinful ways.
Finally, it is shown that Saul had a desire to spread the Gospel in order that others might be won to the Saviour. This is indeed a true mark of a child of God. You will recall reading of the Thessalonians, of whom it was written, “From you sounded out the Word of the Lord.”
It is the moral obligation of all who have heard the Gospel to pass on the glad tidings that others too may come to know the blessing of sins forgiven. More than that, to witness for the Lord gives one a happy heart and there is a great joy in being used to bring someone to the Saviour.
To summarize, four things have been noticed as being marks of divine life in Saul of Tarsus. First, he owned Jesus as his Lord and sought to learn His will for him. Secondly, he became a man of prayer and was found upon his knees in supplication. Thirdly, he sought to associate with the saints and to enjoy fellowship with the local church. Finally, he had a warm gospel spirit and desired to spread the Gospel to others that they also might be saved.
In reading the Acts and the Epistles, it will be observed that these points were uppermost in his life to the end of his days, so that his good start carried him on to a glorious finish. May such be the case with those who read these lines, may they have a deep desire to study the Bible so that these spiritual traits may be developed for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.