In verses 6-11, he says, "Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus."
Is there any doubt that Paul believed in Jesus from the point that Jesus spoke directly to him? is there any doubt that he was repentant? His encounter with Jesus had turned his world upside down. If anyone could have had his sins taken away just by believing in Jesus and praying, it would have been Paul.
In verses 12 and following, Paul hears from Ananias, the teacher sent to him by God, what God's purpose in saving him was. “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard."
Paul received a specific calling from the Lord. Yet, even at that, Paul was still lacking something crucial.
Therefore, as noted in verse 16, Ananias said to Paul, "And now, what are you waiting for? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’"
It was only in baptism that Paul's sins were washed away. Here, the Bible links baptism with calling on the name of the Lord.
Of course, baptism (from a Greek word for immersion) would mean nothing without the grace of God through the blood shed by Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. It would mean nothing without Jesus' resurrection, which makes it possible for us also to have a new life. And, it would not save without faith and repentance. We also need to follow this by being taught to obey Jesus' commands. Matthew 28:18-20. However, the Bible connects baptism with the point at which our sins are cleansed and we receive grace and the Spirit of God.
It is the point at which we are buried with Christ and raised to a new life in him. Romans 6:1-10 says, 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,a]">[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God."
It is also the point at which God circumcises our hearts. Colossians 2: In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised byc]">] Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
What a marvelous work God does in us when we are baptized!