God Knows…When I Wonder if I can Change – Part 3
Because of the trouble in Jerusalem, the gospel message spread quickly. Some who believed in Jesus moved to Antioch, a city in Syria, about 480 km north of Jerusalem. They preached to whoever would listen. “A great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” When the disciples in Jerusalem heard this good news, they asked Barnabas to visit the new believers. So many new believers had joined the church in Antioch that Barnabas realized he could use some help. So he traveled over to Tarsus to recruit Saul. Saul agreed to help.
For a year Barnabas and Saul worked together, teaching many that Jesus of Nazareth had opened the way to salvation. Antioch was the first place where the believers were called Christians. They were given the name because Christ was the center of their lives. They talked about Christ. They prayed to God in Christ’s name. They followed the example of Christ.
A New Name for a New Man
As Saul worked in Antioch, he became positive that God wanted him to specialize in working for the Gentile world—the many people in many places whose roots did not go back to Jacob and Abraham.
Not very long after this Saul became known by another new name. Beginning in Acts 13:9, the Bible calls Saul by the name of Paul. In those days, most Jews had a couple of names. One was Hebrew name used at home among friends—Saul was the son of Jewish parents. The other was a Greek or Roman name, used in the wider world—Saul was a Roman citizen by birth. Now that he was embarking on his mission as God’s messenger to other parts of the world, perhaps he decided that using his Roman name would be an advantage. At any rate, it helped mark the complete change that had come over this man.
Paul’s direction had changed 180 degrees. The One he had persecuted he now loved. Instead of trying to blast Believers out of existence, he was now devoting his life to increasing their number.
Following Christ makes bad people good. A bad person can never change himself into a good one. But what he or she cannot do, Jesus CAN. If God could change Saul, He can change you and me too!
Where to find the story: Acts 9, 11, 13, and 22
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