The apostle Paul’s journey did not begin on the road to Damascus but began long before he started on that road. There was much preparatory work done in the life of Paul to put him in place to hear the gospel and be used by God as a missionary to the gentiles. The journey took him to Damascus where a brother in Christ (Ananias) meet him for follow-up. Ananias said to Paul, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17, NASB) It seems to me that Ananias preached the gospel to Paul. He repented and believed, the scales fell from his eyes and he regained sight, was baptized by Ananias, was regenerated (filled by the Holy Spirit) evidenced by his strengthening. (Acts 9:18) Paul immediately began to bear fruit keeping with repentance, preaching the gospel in the synagogues. Paul was not a stagnant Christian. Like a new born baby, he was growing stronger all the time. Paul’s evangelistic preaching had become so strong that the Jews plotted to kill him. Paul returned to Damascus from Arabia likely to follow-up on those who had received the gospel during his stay there. (Gal 1:17) Had they persevered? Where they bearing fruit? Are they growing stronger in the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul then went to Jerusalem to consult with those who were Christians before him. (Gal 2:1-6)
What Can We Learn from The Spiritual Journey of The Apostle Paul?
We can take from the spiritual journey of the apostle Paul that one’s election, calling, conversion, regeneration, justification, and sanctification is a process. Yes, on a single day we repented and believed but there is much preparatory work done by the Lord to get us to the place where we will hear the gospel and respond to it in repentance and faith. I believe that those who are saved were predestined for salvation before the foundation of the earth. However, effectual calling precedes conversion which precedes regeneration.1 The journey does not stop at conversion or regeneration. Once converted and regenerated one is united with Christ, justified in the eyes of God and adopted as a son.2 The true child of God is being sanctified; and therefore, should be growing in godliness which means bearing fruit keeping with repentance.3 All believers should be associated in fellowship with other believers. Secondly, all believers should be growing stronger in holiness. Lastly, all believers should be sharing the gospel with unbelievers, not doing so is disobedience. C. H. Spurgeon said, “I do not want to be your pastor simply so that I may preach to you; I long to see souls saved, and to see those who are saved seeking to win others for the Lord Jesus Christ.”4
Donald S. Whitney said, “I’m convinced that the main reason many of us don’t witness for Christ in ways that would be effective and relatively fear-free is simply because we don’t discipline ourselves to do it.”5 Evangelism is expected: I think that most Christians understand this but are disobedient.6 Evangelism is empowered: Some understand this, but many do not know that we preach by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not up to us to when soles but to preach the gospel.7 Evangelism is a discipline: I think that few understand this. In fact, the concept is new to me and I am now embracing it. I think that Whitney is correct the reason that Christians are disobedient in sharing the gospel is that they have not disciplined themselves to do it.
1 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rded. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 863.
5 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for The Christian Life, 2nded. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014), 120.