In Acts 13:6ff, we encounter the story of Sergius Paulus, a proconsul for Rome, in Paphos on the island of Cyprus.
The passage: Acts 13:6ff
Barnabas and Saul were on what has been called their first missionary journey, and the gospel is now going beyond the limits of Palestine and into the Greek and Roman world.
The proconsul was a man spiritually thirsty. He likely had heard about the goings on, and “because he wanted to hear the word of God,” he invited Barnabas and Saul to come.
Over the course of conversations, a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus tried to interfere with the conversations and tried to keep the proconsul “from the faith.”
Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, gives a powerful word to Bar-Jesus, that speaks directly to the power of sin. “Will you never stop perverting the ways of the Lord?” Paul pronounces that the judgment of God will come upon Bar-Jesus: blindness, and it happened.
When the proconsul saw what had happened, “he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”
Barnabas and Saul were busy “proclaiming the word of God in the synagogues” as they traveled around. Imagine that one after noon, a messenger comes and says, “The proconsul would like to see you.”
I believe that God allows people to come into our life for a purpose. The proconsul was stepping into the life of Barnabas and Saul, with a summons to come and explain the word of God. It was an opportunity that they didn’t have to seek or create, but rather one that fell into their lap.
Paul and Barnabas may not have known why they were being summoned. Could it be they would be persecuted as had happened to other Christian leaders? Would they be thrown in jail? Would they be beaten and deported?
They may not have known, they were just summoned. However, they went, perhaps wondering what God was up to.
The proconsul was a spiritually thirsty man. Something about what he was hearing gave him enough curiosity to seek after the truth. He is the one who made the effort to have Barnabbas and Saul brought to him.
When one is spiritually thirsty, one is self-propelled to find the water. We’ve seen that in some of the prior conversion stories. He is the one who takes the initiative to find the truth from Paul and Barnabbas.
However, there was a sorcerer around that sought to hinder the conversation.
I’ve seen plenty of times where a spiritually thirsty person has someone around them ready to drag them down, or away from the truth. Last weekend, I listened to a testimony from a man who had friends telling him that the Bible was full of lies during his search for Christ.
We don’t know what the content of their own coversation was, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power to confirm the word, Paulus believed. Paul addresses the sin in the sorcerer’s life, not in Sergius Paulus, the proconsul.
Some folks come to faith after a conversation, like the Ethiopian Eunuch
did. Others will come to faith after seeing evidence of God’s power after the conversation.
I have seen such conversions happen in my life, where visible manifestation of God’s power helps a person into belief. We could talk all we want, but not until the demonstration of power, did it click.
Finally, Paul and Barnabbas were doing their own thing when someone (Paulus) stepped into their life. I find that evangelism happens “easiest” when I pay attention to the people who come into my life, like a seat mate that talks to me on an airplane, or the hair cutting person who engages me in conversation. Often they are the ones themselves who open the door to a spiritual conversation.
Let me ask you this?
Do you to notice the spiritually people that God brings into your life? Ask God today to give you the eyes to see them.