Every now and then, even after all these years of knowing the Lord, I am still in awe and amazed at how and why he redeemed a lot of the people in the Bible. It even surprises me in our times how he takes seemingly lost causes and leads them to do a complete 180° from where they were heading. And, yes, a lot of times I wonder why he even puts up with me. Out of the multitude of salvation accounts in the Bible, I chose 15 of my favorites which have impacted me the most.
1. Saul/Paul: God took a man who was one of the greatest persecutors of Christians, who even consented to and caused their deaths (Acts 22:4), and made him into the greatest preacher of the gospel who wrote most of the New Testament. Amazing! If this guy can get saved, it’s no wonder there are reports of Islamic persecutors of Christians who end up saved.
2. Abraham: a wealthy pagan man who was raised in a society totally given to paganism in a prominent pagan family (Joshua 24:2-3) is told by God to leave his paganism and his pagan family behind so he can be blessed, and he simply obeys God and believes what God tells him–then becomes the father of not only the Hebrews but of everyone who has ever come or will ever come to faith in the Lord since his time on Earth, establishing the bloodline of Jesus.
3. Ruth: a pagan woman in a pagan society encounters a Hebrew family that’s down and out, marries one of the sons who ends up dying, then despite all the sorrow she sees her God-worshiping mother-in-law go through, decides to forsake her Moabite gods and family for Jehovah, moves to Israel with her mother-in-law, and becomes an ancestor of King David and ultimately Jesus.
4. Man possessed by Legion: a man with at least 1,000 devils inside of him and is influenced by them to the point of being a suicidal cutter, encounters Christ and is restored to complete sanity and normalcy. Wow!
5. Mary Magdalene: a woman who had seven devils cast out of her (Mark 16:9) by Christ becomes one of his most devoted followers, one of the first to see him resurrected, and one of the first to spread the news of his resurrection.
6. King Manasseh: the most evil, bloodthirsty, murderous king of Judah who did much worse things than his pagan counterparts (2 Chron. 33:1-9) gets deposed from the throne by God (who used the king of Assyria) and ends up crying out to God in repentance.
7. 144,000 Jews in the great tribulation: Even after the church is raptured and the worst period ever unfolds on Earth, God will set aside a remnant in Israel that will get saved and spread the gospel (Rev. 7).
8. Philippian jailer; 9. Cornelius and his household; 10. Sergius Paulus in Cyprus: powerful, well-connected government leaders knew there was still something missing in their full lives and ended up getting saved, thanks to the apostles.
11. King Nebuchadnezzar: For years the most powerful man of his time just acknowledged that Jehovah was “a god” and held on to his pagan Babylonian system. Then he got so proud that he worshiped himself, but God punished him for it by causing insanity to overcome him so severely that Nebuchadnezzar looked and acted like an animal for seven years. He repented and called on the name of the Lord after the Lord restored his sanity at the end of those years (Daniel 4:29-34).
12. Samaritan woman at the well: an adulterous fornicator was confronted about her lifestyle, tried to change the subject of her conversation with Christ to religion, and Christ showed her her lack of understanding in that area also, convicting her enough to repent and tell others about Christ.
13. Job’s friends: These three men acted as if they were close to God and condemned Job in their self-righteous judgmental attitudes when they had no relationship with God. When God told them how they were way off-base concerning both him and Job, he ordered them to repent and they were humble enough to admit their mistakes and seek God’s forgiveness.
14. Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude: You would think that those who grew up with the Messiah would know who he was and believe, but as Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house,” (Mark 6:4). Even into their adulthood Christ’s brothers made fun of him in their unbelief (John 7:3-5), but they changed their minds after he resurrected and became well-known leaders in the church, writing one book each in the New Testament.
15. Zacchaeus: a greedy tax collector encountered the Lord Jesus and became generous enough to voluntarily give out reparations to those he harmed.