Good news—neither the apostle Paul nor the Holy Spirit left us to wonder about the conversion of one Saul of Tarsus. The initial record is found in Acts 9 with possibly the very first information found in a veiled reference (Acts 6:9). Saul was eyewitness to the preaching and stoning to death of Stephen the first recorded Christian martyr (Acts 7). He was a Jew of Jews (Acts 26:5), but needed the gospel of Christ to be saved from sin.
Notice when Saul met the Lord on the Damascus highway, he was not saved. He was not saved during the encounter, but was sent by the Lord to one who would instruct him (Acts 9:6; 22:10). All the way to the city and in the days following Saul had sin on his record. How can one know this? By what Saul [apostle Paul] said, it was Ananias who asked him why he [Saul] was waiting, “arise and be baptized and wash away your sin calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
What did Saul know? He knew something of Christ and the Gospel for his conscience was goading him, and the Lord knew it (Acts 9:6). He needed his sin forgiven, but obviously did not know how to do so (9:6, 22:10). Once given the information, he had no reason to wait, and didn’t.
In obedience to Christ what was Saul called to do? Leave his Jewish tradition (Acts 22:3-7, Mark 10:29-30) and come into compliance with the new covenant (Matt. 26:28) where remission of sin is found and the hope of glory realized. He was called by the Gospel to help those he had hurt—Christians. What a change repentance made (Luke 13:3) and does make in the life of an obedient believer. One day he’s killing Christians and the next seeking Christians desiring their fellowship.
What did it take to save Saul of Tarsus? It took recognition of Jesus as Lord (9:6; 22:8). It was not the sinner’s prayer, because he had been praying (Acts 9:11). Fasting didn’t get the job done, because he had been doing that following his encounter with Jesus (9:9). He wasn’t saved by a miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit. He was saved like all before him and after him in his humble obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ by water baptism (Acts 22:16). His obedience meant sins washed away, addition to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47), putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27), waiting was over, and the burden of sin lifted!
Why would anyone want to wait? I’ve never had a soul say to me after obeying the gospel, “I’m glad I waited!” To the contrary, I’ve had several say, “I don’t know why I waited so long!” Why would an accountable, rational person wait (II Cor. 6:2)? Why wait to save your soul (I Pet. 3:21)?
The Lord had plans for Saul (Acts 9:15; 22:21), and the Lord has plans for you if you’ll let Him direct your life. Why do you wait?