I*m borrowing the title of this study from a gentleman named Albert Hughes, late Author and Lecturer. I shall also include an article he wrote. Mr. Hughes article:
Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul is the foremost figure in the history of Christianity. Paul*s personality, his preaching, his writing -- all of it by the Holy Spirit -- has helped to make Christianity a world power.
It is an interesting fact that the library of the Theological School in Harvard University contains more than two thousand volumes dealing with the life and letters of the Apostle Paul, which averages more than one volume each year since Paul*s day. In addition to these two thousand volumes, there are thousands of histories and commentaries in which the life and teaching of Paul occupy an important place. From these facts alone it could be adjudged that here was a man who was tremendously influential and is worthy of our keenest attention. We might well ask what some of the elements were that made Paul so mighty in his own day, and even in ours.
Many Christians consider that conversion is the climax and consummation of Christianity. From the study of Paul*s life, we find this is not so. If ever a soul knew God*s salvation, Saul of Tarsus did through his supernatural encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. But accompanying his salvation came this other supreme step -- surrender. Saul saw what we all need to see: that Jesus Christ has gone on from the cross to the grave to the glory, and that he is the living Lord at the Father*s right hand. It is here that the majority of believers are spiritually myopic. Christianity is not a dynamic force in their lives because Christ is not a constant reality to them.
The demons also believe and tremble at the great objective facts of God and of Christ, but only those who daily apply Christ*s cleansing blood and depend upon his indwelling power rejoice in victory.
As the objective facts of the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ became experiential realities in Saul*s soul, he was completely changed. Seeing these wonders and claiming them for himself, Saul surrendered totally to the one who had forgiven and cleansed his past. He committed all he had and hoped for into the hands of the One he had been persecuting, and ever afterward called him Lord.
Saul*s surrender was two-fold: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? It was the surrender to a new mastery and to a new ministry. He got a new Captain and entered upon a new conquest. From henceforth he had a new Lord and a new life, a new Savior and a new service, a new Boss and a new business.
It came at high noon. Pressing toward Damascus with an impassioned haste, Saul would not permit his company to rest even during the intolerable blaze of the Syrian sun. But suddenly they were halted: a great light shining more splendidly than the sun smote them all to the ground. It was the splendor of the glory of God as seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
Out of that blaze of light came a voice -- the same Voice which of old Moses heard out of the bush that burned but was not consumed. Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me:
Who art thou, Lord? Did Saul suppose for a single moment that the answer could be given him in a sentence? A whole lifetime would not be sufficient for such a revelation. It can come only gradually, even as the dawn breaks over the wide-spreading landscape. Even an eternity would fail to make known all that he is.
I am Jesus was as complete an answer as Saul could perceive that day. We know in part and only in part. But Saul learned that the One he had seen in that effulgent glory was the Jesus of Nazareth who had been crucified and was dead and buried. To that One Saul supremely surrendered, and immediately declared him Lord and Master. From that decision he never deviated. The fullness of that conviction became the force for all his future life.
This yielding to the new mastery does not come easily. Only the might of God can accomplish it. Saul, the greatest living antagonist of Christ, was plunging madly, hotly, anxiously ahead on that Damascus road. He had to be halted, captured, harnessed, brought under control. He was by no means ready for it. But the inevitable surrender to the all-powerful Jesus of Nazareth took place, and Saul went on the rest of his journey calling him Lord.
This is the outstanding need in all our churches today -- people who recognize the Lordship of Christ and yield to his mastery. Give us Christians like these and our church problems are immediately solved. There is only one proper place for us to put Christ if we profess to love him, and that place is first. All the mischief of the devil and all the bankruptcy and heartache in our own experience come because we fail at this point. May the Holy Spirit convict us of that.
We have such superficial views of spiritual progress. There are numerous congregations who imagine that they could exercise a mighty influence over their area if they only had a better or larger building. They plunge themselves into a huge debt, only to discover they have no more attraction than before, but they have a much heavier burden.
Again, churches report progress when they have added a few people. What a fallacy! Adding people may be a great calamity. Adding soldiers does not always mean victory to an army; it depends upon the type of soldier you add, the equipment you give, and the training supplied as to whether you have added strength.
God has demonstrated that he can shake the world with a yielded man: a Moses, an Elijah, a Peter, a Paul, a Luther, a Wesley, a Finney, a Moody, an Evan Roberts, and he is waiting for another man. Who is that man to be? You or I?
Quit you like men -- not fops, dolls, dandies, prigs, hypocrites, or halfhearted pretenders! Give us men who know God and are known of God, and even yet a nation and an empire can be stirred from center to circumference. A Saul of Tarsus who yields to Christ can make kings murmur, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Let us see that the outstanding need everywhere is for men and women, boys and girls who will make Christ Master, Controller, Dictator, King. Right at the start Saul of Tarsus saw the supreme need for that and surrendered splendidly to the Savior who had soundly saved him. Until then he had been under the mastery of his own conscience, his own hot heart, his personal hatreds and prejudices, the dictates of the religious high priest. But now the die was cast, the Rubicon was crossed, and he went over for good to the opposition and made that the governing side of his life, proclaiming Jesus Christ absolute Master. Later on we hear him say, in triumph, To me to live is Christ. What he meant was: I want no thoughts but his thoughts, no plan but his plan, no will but his will, no hopes but his hope, no spirit but his Spirit. It is all Christ, first, last, and all the time. My time is not mine, my energy is not mine, my eyes are not mine, my feet are not mine, my blood is not mine, my tongue is not mine, my brain is not mine, my house is not mine, my business is not mine, my money is not mine. He created me, died for me, lives for me, keeps me, comes for me. O Christ Jesus, thine, only thine would I be now and forevermore.
Make Christ Master and he will make you master. Make him King and you will be a better grocer, a better butcher, a better baker, a better candlestick maker -- a better anything. In this way Christianity will become radiant and attractive. The lost will want a faith like this.
May God speed the day to us when whatever we do we do it to the glory of God. We can glorify him at the typewriter, at the beach, in the school, at home, at play, on the ladder painting the house, in the mine digging coal, or like William Carey, cobbling shoes. This will be possible the moment we make Christ Master. Are you ready?
From Renamed -- Saul Becomes Paul, by Albert Hughes, American Bible Conference Association, Inc.