"B'twixt Saddle And Ground"
"Yep," an old-timer tells me; "the light hit him, and he was converted b'twixt the saddle and the ground."
Believe it or not, we are talking about the conversion of Saul (later the Apostle Paul) not a western movie. No amount of Bible reading can change my friend's conception either. With him it is "b'twixt Saddle and ground" or nothing. I try to tell him the Bible says nothing about a saddle, but he replies, "Any fool knows he'd have a saddle on his horse." I surely hate to admit that this fool can't even find the horse.
The text is in triplicate: Acts 9:1-18 22:1-16 26:12-20; and one must assemble the facts from each account to get the full story.
It pleased God to make Paul an Apostle (Gal. 2:15) and this required witnessing the resurrected Lord. Paul did not see Him at the "due" time, i.e., before the ascension; (1 Cor. 15:4-10) but the Lord appeared unto him to make him "a minister and a witness," not to save him. (26:16)
The Lord spoke to Paul, not to assure him of salvation, but to send him to one who would tell him what to do. (9:6 22:10) This does not refer to his preaching mission, for Jesus had already told him of this.(26:17f)
Some say the light, the appearance of the Lord, the voice, etc., all are assurances that Saul's (Paul's) sins were forgiven. If so, he is the most dejected and sorrowing "saved" man of history. "He was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink." (Acts 9:9) During this time he was praying. (9:11) And Ananias said, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Even the old-timer should admit this is hardly the thing to say to one who is saved -- with sins forgiven. (The old-timer is quiet at this point.)
Saul's conversion, like others in the early days of the church, was surrounded by circumstances related to the times. Because of his appointment as an Apostle, there are elements in the account not directly a part of the conversion itself. Remove these, and his conversion was not unlike any other "turning to the Lord" recorded in New Testament history.
He had to learn of the Lord, (note Acts 7:58); believe in Him, repent of past sins, and obey Him in baptism. He placed his trust in Christ and the salvation made possible by His death; and this faith was such as to lead him to "obey from the heart that form of doctrine" (the death, burial, and resurrection) "being then made free from sins--." (Rom. 6:16-18, 3-5)
Remember, it was this same Paul who wrote Rom. 6:3-f. "so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death."
But my friend, the old-timer, is not yet convinced. "Don't talk to me about baptism," he shouts. "How in this wide world are you going to baptize a horse??"
Hmm! I'm going to study on that.