1. *((illus))* Vladimir peered out of his office window onto Red Square on a cold grey November morning and stared at the Cathedral of St. Basil's.
He imagined it on fire and smiled.
He caught sight of his own reflection.
As a KGB agent he held in his hands he held a thick file containing the names, addresses, photographs and anti-state offences of the five leading religious dissidents active in London.
Within an hour he was on a scheduled flight bound for Heathrow.
He took out the photographs again, memorizing their features.
*His assignment* was to locate and neutralise another cell of émigrés, and entice, blackmail or drug them to the London embassy for interrogation.
From there they would be brought home to be.... Diplomatic baggage... diplomatic garbage more like... he smiled.
Suddenly the smile froze on his face as his heart stopped, and he gasped for air.
*The plane was dropping like a stone*.
A sudden violent electrical storm had engulfed the plane causing total electical failure, and the engines had stalled.
Vladimir began to sweat, his past flashed by,
- his childhood memories of the orthodox church,
- his parents simple faith, his rejection of religion at school,
- his admiration for Lenin,
- his membership of the Party,
- his acceptance by the KGB,
- the searches, the interrogations, the trials, the psychiatric clinics, the camps...
*Unconsciously Vladimir heard himself praying*, prayers he had memorized as a child and forgotten until now.
When he came round, the plane had made an emergency landing at Heathrow airport, and he was being driven to the embassy.
Unable to settle, he *telephoned one of the dissidents* he had come to interrogate.
- *Ivan, the pastor of a small Ukrainian Pentecostal church* in East London could not believe his ears.
- Against his better judgment he agreed to a meeting with Vladimir in a near by park that evening.
They walked and talked till morning.
That Sunday morning he was a rather unexpected speaker giving his testimony of his new faith in Christ as his Savior at their church.
Within a week, Vladimir was back in Moscow, but not at his old office desk.
He was at the other end of Red Square, kneeling in the confessional at the Cathedral of St. Basil, asking a surpised priest about the possibility of a job....
When I read this story I asked myself the same question I would ask you as well - Could it happen today?
My friend, *the Lord did it to Saul, and he has been doing it ever since.*
Some of you could give testimony of having been a religious skeptic or an agnostic or even an atheist.
And you can identify with this story – of God’s mighty salvation.
3. Lets look at the story together in Acts 9:1-31 *(page 934)*
a. Paul tells his *testimony in three parts*.
i) 3 places in Acts where his testimony is given.
ii) Here; 22; 26 (see sermon notes)
iii) Each gives additional details.
In each part Paul’s testimony is in 3 parts.
i) The *form a good general approach* of how we should think and use our testimony as the occasion warrants.
ii) We each come to the Lord in a unique way, but its important in sharing those facts we explain how others can know him too.
4. The order is simple:
a. *Before* – What Paul was like before he met Jesus :1-2
b. *During* – How Paul came to trust Christ :3-9
c. *After* – Some of the results and consequences of salvation :10-22ff
*5. **Acts 9:1-22 (NLT)*
*/1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath.
He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest./*
*/2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there.
He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains./*
*/3 As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him!/*
*/4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul!
Why are you persecuting me?”/*
*/5 “Who are you, sir?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!/*
*/6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”/*
*/7 The men with Saul stood speechless with surprise, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice, but they saw no one!/*
*/8 As Saul picked himself up off the ground, he found that he was blind./*
*/9 So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus.
He remained there blind for three days.
And all that time he went without food and water./*
*/10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied./*
*/11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas.
When you arrive, ask for Saul of Tarsus.
He is praying to me right now./*
*/12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him so that he can see again.”/*
*/13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!/*
*/14 And we hear that he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest every believer in Damascus.”/*
*/15 But the Lord said, “Go and do what I say.
For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel./*
*/16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for me.”/*
*/17 So Ananias went and found Saul.
He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you may get your sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”/*
*/18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight.
Then he got up and was baptized./*
*/19 Afterward he ate some food and was strengthened.
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days./*
*/20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”/*
*/21 All who heard him were amazed.
“Isn’t this the same man who persecuted Jesus’ followers with such devastation in Jerusalem?”
“And we understand that he came here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests.”/*
*/22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah./*
Now you can understand why this was an eye opening experience.
For many, if not most of us, coming to Christ was an eye-opener.
b. *((illus))* For me it was the eye opening truth that God doesn’t have any grand children and that I could not come to Christ because my parents were Christians.
It was a personal faith.
*AN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE*
*Acts 9:1-31 (page 934)*