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Saul becomes a Christian

Acts 8-9
Saul (later Paul) hears the voice of Jesus on the way to Damascus.
Contributed by Richard Gunther
1
You may have heard of Paul the apostle? He wasn't always known by that name. In his earlier life he was known as Saul of Tarsus and he was a Pharisee. This means he belonged to a religious group which did not agree with the Christian gospel. Saul first appears in the Bible as an enemy to Christians – someone who hates them. – Slide 1
2
The first time we hear of Saul is when Stephen the Christian was accused of causing trouble. Saul was there, watching and listening. When the accusers threw stones at Stephen, Saul was a witness to this dear man's death. – Slide 2
3
Stephen knelt down and cried, ‘Lord, don’t hold this sin to against them!’ and the stones knocked him down, and there he died. <br/>Saul thought the death of Stephen was a good thing. – Slide 3
4
But later, when Saul was busy hounding other Christians, he had an amazing experience. It happened as he was heading off to Damascus. His mission was to find, capture, punish or destroy as many Christians as he could. – Slide 4
5
Suddenly, a bright light appeared and Saul fell to the ground. He heard a voice speaking to him: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ <br/>Saul knew who was speaking to him and it made him very scared. – Slide 5
6
The voice was that of Jesus. Saul had heard about the resurrection, but he didn't believe it. Now he was confused. <br/>Trembling, Saul said, ‘Who are you?’ <br/>‘I am Jesus” said the voice, ‘The one you are persecuting! It is pointless for you to keep resisting me.’ – Slide 6
7
Saul knew he was beaten. He changed completely at that moment, from someone who wanted to kill Christians, to one who wanted to serve the Lord Jesus. <br/>‘What do you want me to do, Lord?’ said Saul. – Slide 7
8
Jesus told Saul to go to Damascus. ‘When you get there you will know what to do’ said Jesus. But when Saul tried to go there he discovered he was blind, so someone took him by the hand and led him along the road. <br/>For three days and three nights Saul did not eat or drink, but at least he was in the city of Damascus, and there he waited and wondered. – Slide 8
9
Meanwhile, a Christian called Ananias had heard from Jesus too. <br/>‘Go to the street called Straight’ said Jesus, ‘And when you get there you will find a man called Saul of Tarsus. I want you to lay your hands on him and pray that he may receive his sight.’ – Slide 9
10
Ananias wasn't too keen on meeting Saul, because he had heard a lot about him. <br/>‘Saul’s the one who has been making life miserable for Christians in Jerusalem!’ said Ananias, ‘He is a powerful man. He could have me bound with ropes, and thrown in prison!’ <br/>‘Don't be afraid,’ said Jesus, ‘I have chosen him to do great things for me. He will take the gospel to many nations, and to kings and rulers, and the people of Israel.’ – Slide 10
11
So Ananias set off, and sure enough, he found Saul. ‘Brother Saul,’ he said, ‘Jesus has sent me to you - the same Jesus you met on the road to Damascus. I have come to tell you that Jesus is about to heal your eyes, and also fill you with the Holy Spirit!’ <br/>He laid his hands on Saul and suddenly Saul could see again. – Slide 11
12
From that time Saul became a Bible preacher and a great leader among the Christians. He devoted his life to outreach, to church-planting, and to setting a good example to other Christians. He also travelled far and wide, suffering many trials, but his determination was to do as much for Jesus as possible before he died. <br/>And his name was changed to Paul the apostle. <br/>This story teaches us that through Jesus we can do great things for God, and leave our old life far behind. – Slide 12
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Slide 13