“Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you.” When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. “While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great Light from Heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a Voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the Light but did not hear the Voice of the One who was speaking to me. I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that Light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.
“A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will, to see the Righteous One and to hear His Own Voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on His Name.’
“After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw Jesus saying to me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You. And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.’ Then He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” Acts 22:1-21
Paul is speaking quickly and concisely because of the shortness of time he expects to be allowed by those who hate him. Paul’s learning from Gamaliel was once a source of pride and confidence for him— it provided him with many arguments against the Gospel and built bonds to pursue and persecute Christ’s believers. Now Paul is solid in Christ for the Gentiles. He has traveled extensively for Christ and been persecuted himself as he’s offered salvation’s Holy anointing in Christ. Because of Paul, beginning with his personal testimony of Jesus knocking him off his high horse on the road to Damascus, thousands upon thousands have repented, been Baptized, are living Christ-like lives, have received miracles and healings, and hundreds of Churches started.
In making this legal defense before Roman and Jewish authorities after his arrest in Jerusalem, he cites his past persecution of Christ’s believers to confirm his identity to them. He continues, it was the overpowering Light of Christ carrying the Grace of God visually and internally which convinced his heart and mind Christ is alive, Resurrected. Paul explains so that they may understand that his prior accomplishments have become Damascus dust. He speaks about just how merciful Jesus Christ is to him, the famous persecutor of Christians. Paul’s haters know him and despise him for his love of Christ.
Paul tells that Jesus presented Himself to him in brightest Light (the sum of all colors) and Voice (speaking within him and consuming all of him). Paul is completely transformed, born anew in the personal Holiness of Christ Jesus, and Christ’s new creation Paul (formerly Saul) stands before them giving his best defense.
What a witness Paul gives to us through Scripture. And each of our witnesses to salvation’s moment is equally powerful. Conversion to Christ is for us to receive New Birth (John 3). Our Lord is Light and Voice, like with Paul, and transforms each of us. I remember my Light and Voice experience of Christ.
For you see, I am a Jesus believer from before my birth as my mother committed me to Christ and as I committed my daughter to Christ in the same manner. I was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico under the teaching/preaching of J. Lemuel Fenn and Harry Vanderpool. Jesus called me to preach while I was in regular Sunday morning worship sitting beside my mother and Dr. Fenn was preaching. I read through the Bible twice before I reached the 8th grade, and used Norman Vincent Peal’s Scripture study guide first and then Billy Graham’s Bible Study. These teachers and my folks and family are my solid foundation, Christ is my all.
When I was in my first year of college Light and Voice bound me in covenant with God to Preach and God gave me covenant name, Paty. I had preached some but not led a Church as pastor yet. When I was in my early thirties, out in my garage one night, our Lord set me on Holy Ground. Jesus said, “You are ready.” He then showed me three things: the New Revised Standard Translation of the Bible truer to the original Greek (and inclusive to women as Jesus) had just been published, Spirit had readied me with knowledge and abilities to pastor Churches, and I had been Licensed to Preach while in College. Jesus said, “Get up, Preach My Words.” Conformed to Christ, I went to work for Him.
From birth I have listened to the Holy Spirit speak and direct. I listen and obey now. Even if His instruction does not make sense to me I obeyed, and during my obedience I have been shown why Jesus needs me to act. Jesus uses us. All believers. This is normal for every believer to be used by Jesus for His work. Holy Spirit speaks to each and every person who is Baptized into Christ Jesus our Resurrected Lord.
The book of Acts is the great revealing of Holy Spirit’s activity. Paul’s words today are Spirit given. And just as you see the Spirit’s activity in Paul’s life so it can be in your life– just as strong and powerful to lead you and guide you.
Spirit gives us words, Spirit language (tongues), encouragement, confidence, and opens our eyes to see Christ’s activity right before us. Just as Paul’s eyes were opened by Ananias’ use of Jesus’ Name, so Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see clearly the joyous things Christ is actively doing in us, around us, and through us. Use Jesus’ Name. Spirit gives us healing, Jesus miracles, and the fullness of Jesus Christ’s Love. These have been given so that we may give similarly to others. Christ’s Love and forgiveness is the Source of all that is worth anything and the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Alive Presence in us. To God be the Glory for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.