A THIRD LESSON FROM SAUL'S CONVERSION IS THAT FAITH, REPENTANCE, AND PRAYER ALONE DO NOT TAKE AWAY SIN FOR THOSE OUTSIDE THE BODY OF CHRIST.
Although many people in our world today think that they can be saved by just having faith, being sorrowful, and praying, this is not the case according to the Scriptures. I intend to show you that Saul had all three of these things, yet he still wasn't saved until he did something else.
First, let it be observed that Saul had faith in Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. When he spoke with the Lord in Acts 9:6, he trembled and said - "'Lord, what do you want me to do?' Then the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'" In verse 5, Saul didn't know who was talking to him, but after Jesus identified Himself, Saul asked Him what he should do. He was instructed to finish his journey to Damascus and wait for special instructions. There was something that Saul would have to do. Saul certainly believed in Jesus from this moment on. How could anyone have a heavenly vision and dialogue of this nature and walk away from it an unbeliever?
It must be understood that faith is necessary for salvation. Jesus affirmed in John 8:24 - "Therefore I said to you that you will die in yours sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Jesus also said in John 14:1 - "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." So, Saul began developing faith in Jesus on the road to Damascus, and without that faith he couldn't have been saved. But, that faith alone would not have saved him.
Second, we see that Saul manifested repentance. Although the word repentance is not used in the text, it is implied by Saul's actions. He followed Jesus' command to go into the city. Acts 9:9 reveals - "And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank." Why do you think Saul didn't eat anything for three whole days? Because he felt terrible! He had just come to learn that the things he had believed and practiced religiously, zealously, and in good conscience were wrong and that he had not been pleasing God but fighting against Him! This surely made him very sad. Saul felt remorse over his sins and certainly desired to change his life for the Lord. It must be understood that repentance is necessary for salvation (Luke 13:3), but it alone won't save you.
Third, Acts 9:11 teaches that Saul prayed. Surely he was pouring out his sorrow and begging for mercy for his sins. But, his prayers alone didn't save him. Many so-called preachers today instruct people to pray for salvation--pray the "Sinner's Prayer," they say. Friends, the Scriptures do not teach those outside Jesus' church to pray for salvation. Nowhere does the Bible teach that all a person needs to do to be saved is pray Jesus into his heart and ask for forgiveness. Such false notions originate in the minds of men, not in the word of God!
We have seen that Saul believed, repented, and prayed, yet all of these things were done before he was told what he "must do" (Acts 9:6). In fact, after all of these things were done by Saul, he was still not saved! He was still in his sins and in need of forgiveness. How do I know this? Because of Acts 22:16! Join us tomorrow for a fuller explanation.