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Monday, February 8, 2021

Saul's Spiritual Experience

By Clifton Angel

    “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” (Acts 9:3–4a). At his recounting of this occasion to King Agrippa, Paul (formerly Saul) said, “At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me” (Acts 26:13).
   Many religious organizations encourage the giving of “testimonies.” Generally, it is a “feel-good,” very emotional story told to show a particular person’s view of how they “experienced” salvation. Oftentimes, it is used for the purpose of discipling others to their religious organization, and I’ve even found record where the giving of testimonies can be a very “coached” event (they are told what to say, and what not to say).
   Without doubt, the process of salvation is a very emotional occasion. The Scriptures teach us that repentance unto salvation requires godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10). Also, it is logical and evident that one would be filled with joy, immediately following his conversion (cf. Acts 8:36–39). I distinctly remember the emotional feeling after rising out of the burial of baptism. It was a feeling of relief. It felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. The process of salvation is a very emotional occasion; however, we must recognize that our emotions are not earmarks for salvation.
   You see, some of the same emotions are felt at other times. I was extremely sorrowful at the untimely death of my father; however, it was not a sorrow over sins that leads to repentance. I was extremely relieved and filled with joy at the successful birth of my son (my wife had an emergency c-section because his umbilical cord was around his neck); however, it was not an occasion of sins being washed away. Again, an emotional experience is not an earmark of salvation.
   It is a devastating reality that many base their faith on feelings, and not the Scriptures. I’ve heard the likes of “I wouldn’t trade the feeling in my heart for any verse in the Bible.” Some give testimonies of emotional experiences, seemingly miraculous happenings, seeing light, etc., claiming these as the evidence of their salvation. If anyone has had an emotional experience in their conversion, Saul has. However, it was not his truly miraculous experiences, nor the emotions that he felt, nor the light that he saw that were the earmarks of the moment he was saved.
   In his words, Saul (Paul) tells us that faith comes from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), repentance leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10), confession with the mouth is necessary for salvation (Romans 10:10), and a person is not saved until he is baptized (Romans 6:3–4; Galatians 3:27; Acts 22:16).
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/


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