The apostle Paul entered the pages of Scripture as Saul, the self-professed Pharisee of all Pharisees and the most religious man in town. But all his scruples and law keeping hadn’t made him a better person. He was bloodthirsty and angry, determined to extinguish anything and everyone Christian.
His attitude began to change on the road to Damascus. That’s when Jesus appeared to him in the desert, knocked him off his high horse, and left him sightless for three days. Paul could see only one direction: inward. And what he saw he did not like. He saw a narrow-minded tyrant. During the time of blindness, God gave him a vision that a man named Ananias would restore his sight. So when Ananias did, Paul “got up and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).
Within a few days he was preaching about Christ. Within a few years he was off on his first missionary journey. Within a couple of decades he was writing the letters we still read today, each one of which makes the case for Christ and the cross.
We aren’t told when Paul realized the meaning of grace. Was it immediately on the Damascus road? Or gradually during the three-day darkness? Or after Ananias restored his sight? We aren’t told. But we know that Paul got grace. Or grace got Paul. Either way, he embraced the improbable offer that God would make us right with him through Jesus Christ. Paul’s logic followed a simple outline:
Our debt is enough to sink us.
God loves us too much to leave us.
So God has found a way to save us. . . .
What a gift God has given you. You’ve won the greatest lottery in the history of humanity, and you didn’t even pay for the ticket! Your soul is secure, your salvation guaranteed. Your name is written in the only book that matters. You’re only a few sand grains in the hourglass from a tearless, graveless, painless existence.
This is the message of God, the promise of grace. The declaration Paul preached with unwearied enthusiasm: “What we cannot do, God has done. He justifies us by his grace.” Grace is entirely God’s. God loving. God stooping. God offering. God caring and God carrying. (From Unshakable Hope by Max Lucado.)
Max Lucado, Life Lessons from 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: Ageless Wisdom for Young Leaders (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on the book of 1 Timothy.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.