This isn’t regular news today, folks. The following is a message I wrote on the Messages page a number of years ago. This is a summary of Lee Strobel’s testimony of his conversion and of some facts he wrote about in his book, The Case for Christ. May it bless you as much as it does me.
Former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, wrote a fascinating book, The Case for Christ.
Lee Strobel earned his Bachelor of Journalism degree at the University of Missouri and his Master of Studies in Law degree at Yale Law School.
Needless to say, the man is astute, articulate and amassed with knowledge, most specifically in the areas of law and journalism.
Strobel was an atheist, as many well-educated individuals are. It seems that frequently, once people acquire a certain higher level of worldly knowledge, ego can be an enormous hurdle when it comes to the basic understanding of God and the fact that we are His creation. This understanding brings us down to square-one, because humility is the premise in coming to know who God really is. The Biblical principle of having child-like faith and humility in order to be accepted of God (Matthew 18:3-4), can be difficult for those who believe they have accomplished great feats on their own.
As an atheist, with a law degree and the propensity to unearth truth and weigh evidence, or the lack of it, in the balance, Lee Strobel set out to prove the case for, or against, Christ.
In his quest for truth, Strobel studied ancient history, archeological data, historical archives and he interviewed many scholars.
I will never forget one part of the evidence he brought forth in his personal testimony. Strobel said that among the strong evidence for Christ was the fact that many suffered martyrdom for Him. The apostles knew Jesus personally and most of them died a martyr’s death because of their faith, which is strong evidence indeed that Jesus was the Christ. Strobel’s point was, who would die for a liar and a fraud?
I had never considered those facts, until I heard Lee Strobel’s testimony.
The Apostle Paul’s conversion and martyrdom is most compelling. Paul didn’t walk and talk with Jesus in person, as did the other apostles. In fact, he was “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6), having studied at the feet of Gamaliel, a renowned teacher of the law in the first century. Gamaliel’s rulings appeared in the Mishnah (Jewish law) and the Paul was his student.
Paul was a devout Jew and subsequently persecuted and killed Christians, believing himself to serve God in the matter (Acts 26).
One day, as he traveled the road to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them to Jerusalem for persecution and to be killed as heretics, Jesus appeared in a great light to Paul and He said, “Saul (his name being Saul at the time), Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9)
Paul answered Jesus and said, “Who are you, Lord?”
Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.”
Paul said, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”
Jesus said to him, “Arise, and go into the city and it will be told you what you must do.”
Paul entered the city, being led by hand because he was blinded by his vision.
At that time, the Lord spoke to a certain disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Lord called him, “Ananias;” and Ananias said, “I am here, Lord.”
The Lord told Ananias, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight and ask in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for he is praying and has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”
The street called Straight still exists in Damascus today. It is called Al-Shari in Arabic and it is the very same street Paul visited and where Ananias lived during 33-36 AD approximately.
This occurred only within approximately one to several years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. As we look at the ancient street called Straight in the picture above, which has been modernized to a certain degree (close-up original shows brick road and dirt sidewalks), it seems it wasn’t so long ago that Christ walked the earth. Having the ability to look at the very same street brings to life the encounter Paul had with our Lord and Savior.
Paul was converted on that very street. He went on to be an overseer of the early church, which is amazing.
Paul was a very educated man and a devout Jew. He was killing Christians, but after his experience with Jesus on the street called Straight, he was not only converted, but became an overseer of the church. What else, besides this miraculous event, would cause such a conversion?
Paul went on to teach, preach and oversee the church, until he was arrested and finally beheaded for his faith by Nero Caesar.
Certainly this man, Saul of Tarsus, a devout Jew, later to become the Apostle Paul and overseer of Christians, did not lay his neck on Nero’s chop block for any possibility of a deceitful lie and deception.
The Apostle Paul went through a powerful, Spirit-filled conversion and confirmation in the early church, because Jesus Christ is Lord.
Interestingly enough, even Gamaliel, a great leader of the Hebrews, astutely said,
“You men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men (the apostles); for before these days, rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves, who was slain, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to naught. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of taxing and drew away much people after him. He also perished and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel, or if this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest happily you be found even to fight against God” Acts 5:35-39.
All of the counsel with Gamaliel at that time ended up agreeing with him, believing him to be wise.
It is most notable that the followers of Jesus Christ the Savior did not diminish, as did the others, and many, many more after them; but the followers of Christ grew to profound numbers. In fact, the following of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, without television, radio or internet, grew the world over, only starting with 12 men on foot!
The Word of God tells us,
“For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16.
If you haven’t already, will you believe and receive the Savior of our souls today? The one who died in our place, to redeem us from sin and pave the way for our entrance into a holy heaven, to be with our most Holy God forever, throughout eternity?
There is only one of two places we will go for eternity, friend, heaven, or hell. Jesus spoke of the punishment of hell for those who refuse to receive His death, His atonement for our sins.
Are you prepared to stand before God and give an account of the life you have lived on this earth? If not, please visit the How Can I Be Saved page of this website. Your eternal destiny depends on it. God bless you.