As a young Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus had organized and even led out in violent opposition to Jesus’ followers. Luke is the first to mention him, stating that he assisted those stoning Stephen in chapter 6. “While still breathing threats against the Christians,” Luke says in Acts 9, Saul headed out to Damascus with orders to silence Jesus’ pesky disciples when he was struck by the resurrected Jesus. By means of a supernatural encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul experienced something that would change everything in his life forever.
Paul’s Damascus Road encounter demonstrates in dramatic fashion what it means to know God’s grace. To know that life is more than merely existing or living out your days in hopes that it will all mean something in the end. It wasn’t the bright light from heaven that changed Saul that day, nor necessarily the audible voice of God’s only Son that made Paul’s story so unique. It was the radical transformation of his soul that not only captured the attention of those living in his day, but those of us living in our day as well. God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ changed everything for Saul that day and he would never be the same again.
But how do you tell someone that your life has been changed by God?
How do you communicate what you, yourself are not sure you understand?
Some 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection Paul attempted to just that when he wrote his letter to the believers living in the city of Rome. In what would turn out to be his final journey across the globe, the aging Saul (aka Paul), writes ahead to the Christians already in Rome spelling out God’s message of Grace that Changes Everything.
Paul was headed for the city of Rome because he knew that the people needed Christ. He knew that there were other believers like him in Rome who had been saved from pointless living and wanted everyone to experience the grace that had changed everything in their lives. Paul says in Romans 1:5, “Through Him—that is Christ—we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His—that is Christ’s—name’s sake.”