The Gospel Call and Invitation is plain and simple. How the inner working of the soul responds to God and how the actual call becomes effective in the heart is not comprehendible to man. Take the call and invitation in Isaiah:
Isa 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This call is simple yet conditional! Seeking the Lord and calling upon Him for mercy, grace, forgiveness and salvation … very easy … but there are conditions! The condition is twofold … forsaking and turning. Both of these imply repentance. This means the condition of seeking and calling requires repentance for genuine salvation. The sinner needs to forsake his disposition to sin and for sin. Man’s ways are aligned to rebellion where God’s ways are higher and holy. Man’s thoughts are focused on self, the flesh and the world where God’s thoughts revolve around perfection, holiness and righteousness. The condition of salvation is radical change. It is leaving the ways of evil and rebellion and following the ways of God which leads to holiness. Too many believe that salvation is muttering a few words of prayer repeated after a counselor or pastor. Not at all! If there is no repentance (forsaking and turning) there is no salvation. That is why John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees:
Mt 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
By now we have a reasonable understanding of what salvation by grace is and what type of man Saul, the Pharisee was. Now let’s read further:
Ac 9:3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
1) Saul’s journey to Damascus. From Jerusalem he would have traveled 217 kilometers to reach Damascus, as previously mentioned, a city in Syria. On foot this would be a six day journey, though it is possible that Saul and those accompanying him might have used horses or mules. Older commentators say Saul was a “legate” of the high priest. That is, he was representing the high priest, with the authority of the high priest. The letters of introduction and extradition supports this idea. Suddenly, as he approached Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him. In speaking to the Roman Commander, Saul who is now Paul says:
Ac 22:6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me”
In speaking to King Agrippa, he says:
Ac 26:13 “About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.”
In each of the three verses (Acts 9, 22 and 26), reference to a light from heaven is made. In chapter 26 he says the light was brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. It is not surprising that the arrival of the Lord Jesus, coming in all His ascended glory and majesty, would result in such a light … such radiant splendor. The apostle John writes in Revelation:
Rev 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.
Note the end of verse 16.
2) This dramatic experience in the middle of the day caused Saul to fall to the ground. Some say he fell from his horse or mule, others feel that the language is saying he was on foot and fell to the ground. Whatever, the emphasis needs to be on him falling to the ground as John in Revelation 1 fell at Jesus’ feet as through dead. Apart from respect, reverence and honor, this was God appearing to him! Does the Bible not say:
Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear
Phil 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth?
What about Isaiah when he saw the Lord of Glory … the three times Holy God?
Isa 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Irrespective how important one is, even the great prophet Isaiah, sinners fall before the King of Heaven in reverence, and also in shame because of sin! Tomorrow we shall return to Saul, but for today consider this … How do I behave in the presence of God? No … I am not talking about being in Church! If we are a temple of the Holy Spirit, God is with us all the time … how do I behave in His presence all the time?
1 Cor 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
O God, forgive me for my sin and my shoddy behavior. As You indwell me cause me to live a life that celebrates Your presence in me all the time. Amen.