And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him” (Acts 22:20).This is Paul; recounting his former deeds. You admire Paul right? Before he became Paul, he was Saul: a murderer and hated believers with all zeal. He has blood on his hand. Today, if you are looking for the equivalent of Saul(Paul), look at the most gruesome terrorist group around: Saul(Paul) could could be a leader of any one of them.
You will understand it better when you consider the believers response when they heard of Saul's conversion. They didn't believe it. They took it to be a scam, another strategy to get believers. Ananias even had guts to question Jesus' instructions: "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name." (Acts 9:13-14). Hear more: "But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (vs21). This guy Paul doesn't belong in the fold of God's people humanly speaking. He unleashed terror on God's people yet he was a chosen vessel of the Lord. In response to Ananias who had questioned the Lord earlier, Jesus said "... he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:" (Acts 9:15).
If you still don't get the terror of the guy I am writing about, this would be helpful. I believe Saul's terror rose up to heaven and broke the very heart of Jesus. I am speculating on this one: I believe Jesus stood up and said "I must stop this guys, enough is enough"...so on his way to Damascus to unleash more terror, the Lord brought him low on his feet: "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."(Acts 9:3-6).
Saul the terrorist "trembling and astonished"...the rest of his life he became a disciple of the Lord and what a gift he was to the body of Christ. If you are a believer and you don't admire Paul then you have no good role models. But, before your admiration goes overboard, note that Paul was a work of grace: Total Grace. No wonder he wrote so much about grace than any other. He was a Scholar, he has rights to boasting, but knowing who he was, he said "by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."(1 Corinthians 15:20).
What have you done that you think you are beyond the reach of God's grace? Grace gives a Total Transformation