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PAUL – THE MODEL CONVERT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 15, 2009

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16).


Many people think that the conversion of the Apostle Paul was so uncommon that we can’t expect anyone to be saved that way today. I think this error comes from the fact that so few church people, particularly in the Western world, have had a conversion like Paul’s. Therefore they think his conversion was exceptional, out of the ordinary. But my text completely contradicts them. It plainly says that Paul’s conversion was “a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on [Christ].” The Greek word translated “pattern” means “a typification…for imitation” (Strong). Thus, Spurgeon said that Paul’s conversion was “a specimen of those to follow…the model after which others are fashioned…Paul was the ideal [picture] of a convert…all [real] conversions are in a high degree similar to this pattern conversion. The transformation of…Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul is a typical instance of the work of grace in the heart” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Paul as Pattern Convert,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1979 reprint, volume LIX, p. 385).

In other words, if you want to become a real Christian, you have to have a conversion like that of Paul, because Paul’s conversion was given “for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him [Christ] to life everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16).

I think that is the reason Paul’s testimony is repeated six times in the New Testament (I Timothy 1:15-16; Acts 9; 22; 26; Galatians 1, 2; Philippians 3:1-14). God wanted you to hear Paul’s conversion six times in the New Testament so you would know how you must be converted. There is only one way to become a real Christian, and that is by following Paul’s example. The details may be somewhat different, but the main “pattern” of Paul’s conversion is repeated every time someone is truly converted and becomes a real Christian.

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
     (I Timothy 1:16).

Therefore I will give you a sketch of Paul’s conversion in four points.

I. First, Paul heard an evangelistic sermon.

Make no mistake here. Paul stood nearby and heard Stephen give a strong evangelistic sermon. We are told that in two places, in Acts 7:58, and again in Acts 22:20, where he said, “I also was standing by [there].”

What did Stephen preach? He preached against the sins of the people present that day. He said, “Ye do always resist the Holy [Spirit]” (Acts 7:51). He spoke of Jesus “of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). He said, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

Paul heard Stephen preach on his sin of rejecting Christ and contributing to His death on the Cross. He heard Stephen say that he had resisted the Spirit of God and broken God’s law (Acts 7:53). He heard Stephen say that Christ has risen from the dead and is now at the right hand of God in Heaven.

Those are great evangelistic truths that you also must hear if you expect to be converted the way Paul was, after his “pattern” and example. You have also resisted the Holy Spirit in your rebellious heart. You have also contributed to Christ’s death by your sin. You have also betrayed Christ again and again by missing church, by making your study-time more important than worshipping God on Sunday. Don’t you know that nearly all of us here this morning went to college? Don’t you know that we had to budget our time so we would have room for God on Sunday? I worked forty hours a week and slaved to go through college at night for seven years. But I never missed church. More than that, I taught Sunday School to Chinese children every Sunday. I preached to the children of the church after Sunday School. I picked up loads of Chinese children for church, took them home afterwards, and then taught them again on Sunday night. I didn’t do that for myself. I did it for Chinese children. And I slaved to go through college at night, and I worked 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. And you look at me and tell me you don’t have time for church. Shame on you! What it really means is that you don’t have time for God! You always resist the Holy Spirit! You have lived your whole selfish life neglecting God and crucifying Christ afresh by your selfishness! That’s the plain truth! That’s what Paul heard, and that’s what you need to hear! You are a sinner! You are under the condemnation of God! You are under the wrath of God! You will soon be judged by God,

“and in hell…lift up [your] eyes, being in torments”
       (Luke 16:23).

Someone may say, “You can’t say that to me! I won’t come back!” O.K., then don’t come back! But what I told you is the truth – the same truth that Paul heard Stephen preach. Paul's conversion is the model for all conversions.  Therefore you have to hear hard gospel preaching to have a real conversion like Paul's. 

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
     (I Timothy 1:16).

Take it or leave it! I told you the truth from the Bible. Take it or leave it! You have to hear that kind of preaching or you will never become a real Christian. You have to follow Paul’s “pattern.” That’s the kind of preaching he heard, and that’s the kind of preaching you have to hear! You are a sinner!  Take it or leave it!

II. Second, Paul came under conviction of sin.

When Jesus spoke to him, Paul fell to the ground. He trembled and was astonished (Acts 9:4, 6). He was under such conviction of sin that he fasted and prayed for three days in a darkened room (Acts 9:9-11).

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
     (I Timothy 1:16).

A 17-year-old boy heard a man preaching on the street. The man said the boy was a sinner, going to a fiery Hell. The man said he had to have Christ, or burn in flames for eternity. Just like Paul, the convert’s “pattern,” the boy ran home, went up into the attic of the house, and threw himself on the floor in tears of conviction, until he found Christ. That’s what Paul went through. And that’s what the 17-year-old A. W. Tozer went through. He became one of the great Christian authors of the twentieth century.  He became a Christian in the same way Paul did, after the same pattern. And that’s what you have to go through! When the Spirit of God comes to you, “He will reprove [you] of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

If you don’t come under conviction for your sin you will never become a real Christian. Oh, you may go to a church on Sunday morning. But you will remain just a nominal church person. You will never become a real convert. You will never repent and become a real Christian unless you are convicted of your sinfulness as Paul was!

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
     (I Timothy 1:16).

III. Third, Paul was born again.

After three days of weeping, fasting and praying, under deep conviction of sin, Paul received the Holy Spirit and was born again,

“And immediately…he received sight” (Acts 9:18).

The new birth is instantaneous. You might waver back and forth for a long time. You might sometimes feel your sin, and then lose your conviction. But when the moment of your real conversion comes, you will be saved as quickly as Paul was.

Joseph Hart rejected Christ. He hated to hear sermons that exposed his sin. He hated to hear that he was going to be cast into the Lake of Fire. He hated hearing that he needed the Blood of Christ to wash his sins away. But when God got ahold of him, he shook Joseph Hart and held him over the mouth of Hell. Joseph Hart was convicted of his sin. He came to Christ. In one moment of time he was saved by Jesus, his crucified God. Joseph Hart went on to write beautiful hymns. In one of those hymns he said,

The moment a sinner believes,
   And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
   Redemption in full through His Blood.
(“The Moment a Sinner Believes” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Or, as Robert Lowry put it,

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

Sing the chorus!

Oh, precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow!
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

IV. Fourth, Paul had a new purpose in life after he was born again.

After he became a real Christian Paul said,

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Now that he was born again, Paul said he thought that all his past ambitions and goals were nothing but dung. From the moment he was converted, Paul lived for Christ, and worked for Christ, and served Christ. Christ had saved him, and now Christ was his Master and Lord.

Paul’s conversion was given six times in the Bible “for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on [Christ] to life everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16). May you have the same kind of conversion Paul had – because that is the only way to escape from the fire of Hell, obtain everlasting life, and have your sins pardoned! 

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting”
     (I Timothy 1:16).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Timothy 1:12-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ye Must Be Born Again” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).


THE OUTLINE OF

PAUL – THE MODEL CONVERT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16).

(I Timothy 1:15-16; Acts 9; 22; 26; Galatians 1, 2; Philippians 3:1-14)

I. First, Paul heard an evangelistic sermon, Acts 22:20; 7:51, 52, 56, 53;
Luke 16:23.

II. Second, Paul came under conviction of sin, Acts 9:4, 6, 9-11; John 16:8.

III. Third, Paul was born again, Acts 9:18.

IV. Fourth, Paul had a new purpose in life after he was born again,
Philippians 3:7-8.