If anybody was in rebellion against Jesus, it was Saul. Acts 9:1 describes him as “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”. As he was traveling to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him and said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” If anybody was NOT worthy to receive a manifestation of Jesus it was Saul. If anybody was NOT worthy to be converted it was Saul. He admitted that when he wrote: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” (1 Timothy 1:15)
His conversion stands in striking contrast to the teachings of Mormonism. “You become converted as a result of your righteous efforts to follow the Savior.” (True to the Faith, p. 41) Saul was doing the direct opposite of trying to follow the Savior.
I have had some Mormons try to explain away Saul’s conversion as an exception to the rule because he became an apostle. But that wasn’t Saul’s testimony. After describing his conversion, he calls it not an exception, but a pattern. “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.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
I, for one, treasure the story of Saul’s conversion. I treasure it because it gives ALL the credit to Jesus and his mercy. I treasure it because it highlights the wonderful biblical teaching that when I was dead in sins God made me spiritually alive in Christ. I treasure it because it is another example of how my living eternally with Heavenly Father is all about what he does for me, not what I do. To God be the glory.