Acts 9: 10-19Written by kathleen on May 10, 2015 in - No Comments
Now, as we look at Chapter 9 of Acts, we’re going to see the characteristics of a transformed life. And what is a pattern for all transformed lives; this is one of those chapters that give for us some great insights into the basics of the Christian experience.
It’s not a far out kind of thing or some obscure doctrine that you’re going to be finding here. It’s just some basic root, first floor kind of stuff. But it’s so important.
Four areas to look at this morning
1st. There are certain characteristics of a transformed life; and in Saul’s conversion we will see that at its core, salvation is something God does in us. What we do is only a response to His work in us.
2nd. Point is Saul’s conversion should remind us that God has a plan for us, even when we are not looking for him or even interested in him.
3rd. This text also shows us that God looks for people to cooperate in the conversion of others
4th. Saul’s conversion demonstrates to us that it isn’t enough that we be broken before God, though that is always necessary. God’s desire is to only use brokenness as a prelude to filling.
As this part of the text begins we know Saul was on his way to Damascus to capture Christians. And on the way, the Lord Jesus Christ stopped him just prior to coming to the city. At that point Jesus revealed Himself to him in a blazing light. Saul was blinded by this light; and he is like someone who stared at the sun and can’t see anything but the sun no matter where they look.
At that point, Saul believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be and his transformation took place. (That’s all we need to do!)
Eph 3:18-19 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The next thing Saul knows; somebody’s leading him by the hand as he goes into Damascus and he finds himself in the house of a man by the name of Judas (not Iscariot) but some Judas we don’t know anything about; and that he stayed there for three days and he didn’t eat or drink.. The Lord had told him to go there and wait and that’s exactly what he did.
10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
It’s interesting that the Lord used a man named Ananias to be the instrument of Saul’s recovery and that Ananias was to go to the house of Judas. Ananias and Judas are two names that are infamous in the New Testament.
Judas was the betrayer of Jesus. Ananias was the liar of the early church that was struck dead by God in Acts 5. And the name Saul doesn’t exactly conjure up images of God’s love and spiritual perfection! The Lord is doing something neat here as He’s redeeming names even as He continues His redemptive work in Saul.
There is an entirely different way God spoke to Ananias than in the way He spoke to Saul. Saul had a bold, almost violent confrontation from God, but Ananias hears the voice of God softly spoken in a vision, and when God calls; Ananias obediently responds.
As God gives Saul a vision and in his vision, he see’s a man named Ananias coming along and touching him and receiving sight the question becomes Why Ananias? Was he a prominent Christian? Did God need to use a human being to complete His plan? Not really
God used Ananias because God loves His relationship with people to accomplish His Plans and you can tell Ananias was a willing to do what ever god asked by the way Ananias answered the Lord and said “Lord, what do you want me to do? God’s instructions to Ananias were clear, but also He tells Ananias about Saul’s vision within his in own vision! (Maybe just to let him know he’s expected)
For all we know Ananias was an ordinary man – not an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, an evangelist, an elder, or a deacon. Yet God used him especially because he was just an ordinary man.
If an apostle or a prominent person had ministered to Paul, people might say Paul received his salvation from a man instead of Jesus. In the same way, God wants to use the ordinary person because there is special work for them to do concerning the gospel.
NOTE: Straight Street still is the main road that runs east to west through Damascus which is the oldest city in the world today.
13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
Certainly, Ananias had heard that this violent persecutor of Christians named Saul of Tarsus was on his way from Jerusalem. The Christians of Damascus must have been anxiously preparing for the persecution to come. Ananias’ objections are perfectly logical and well-founded; it’s almost as if Ananias is asking, “God, did you know what kind of guy this Saul is?”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
In V.15 the word GO is the fact that God demands immediate obedience and that God wants us to move for him when He asks.
Think about this: God must have a huge file up in heaven somewhere full of quotes under the category someday. Imagine how many times He hears, someday Lord once I get the fence painted and the garage fixed, I’m going to go witness that neighbor.
Lord, I’d like to teach a class of people or I’d like to start a Bible study, but you know some day as soon as I get over the hump on this new job, and!!! I can only imagine how many of those someday things it takes to fill all of eternities someday file! NEWS FLASH!!!!! God isn’t interested in some day. IN FACT, Did you know that from a certain perspective God doesn’t care about your future?
You say oh that’s heresy. No, it isn’t, because you’ll never live in your future. The future is always tomorrow and we live in today and even the moment! So why should He care about it? We live right now.
Therefore should we go to God and say some day God I’m going to do this, someday I’m going to do that!; because that some day will never happen. You never get there. Satan will make sure of that! God wants your love and the investment of your life now.
In verse 15 God said. “He is my chosen vessel to bear my name in other words “he’s saved and his direction is settled” just as ours is who are saved!
Jer 29:11-14 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord,
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
God had a call for the life of Saul. At this time, God had not even revealed that calling to Saul, but He tells Ananias first. God considered Saul His chosen vessel long before there appeared anything worthy in Saul to choose. God knew what He could make of Saul, even when Saul or Ananias didn’t know. Even if Saul was going to leave a life of privilege to embrace a higher call, but it will be a call with much suffering.
There wasn’t any difference between his salvation and his call. It happened bang, just like that. You see faithfulness and service are all part of the salvation by grace that we have received as a gift from God for us to enjoy!
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Put yourself in Ananias’ shoes for a minute? Here he is standing before the man who has authority from the priest to arrest him and all of those that call upon the name of Jesus and to take them as prisoners back to Jerusalem. And he looks at this guy and says, Brother Saul not “Brutal Saul” or “Bruiser Saul,” he called him “Brother Saul” because he accepted the fact that Saul was a brother regardless of his previous spiritual blindness, and actions regardless of his present physical blindness and he offers him the right hand of fellowship,
Now up until this point, as far as the record is concerned, the Holy Spirit was imparted to the believers by the ministry of the apostles. Even Philip, one of the deacons, did not administer the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When he had this great revival in Samaria and the church in Jerusalem heard of it, they sent Peter and John for as yet the Holy Spirit had not come upon them. And when Peter and John came they laid their hands on them that they might receive this empowering of the Holy Spirit.
Now here is just a disciple, Ananias, who is sent to Paul to pray for the healing of the blindness and for Paul’s receiving of the Holy Spirit.
When Ananias laid his hands on Saul there was an impartation of the Holy Spirit as in Acts 1:8 empowering him for his ministry; and was then followed by his immediate obedience in baptism.
18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
This was real: Saul had been so impacted with the brightness of the light that it is possible the globe of the eye, and particularly the cornea, had suffered considerable injury and was made opaque, and incapable of permitting the rays of light to pass through to the retina
The Greek word used to describe these scales is also used for the flaking of skin such as in leprosy (cataract)
With the laying on of Ananias’ hands in obedience and in faith a miraculous cure happened and the opaque matter separated from the cornea, in the form of thin scales and his eyes were restored to original condition.
Saul’s baptism would prove his own sincerity, and the deep and thorough conviction he had of the truth of Christianity.
Now all of a sudden this person who hated Jesus Christ is rejoicing He was absolutely and totally transformed. In fact, Christians fell in love with him. Later on when he left Ephesus they fell all over him and cried like babies because they loved him so much.
19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Saul immediately began to be strengthened both physically and spiritually and began ministering and being ministered to through fellowship of the believers at Damascus. (He got involved with what God was doing at the local level in the church)
Saul’s conversion reminds us that at its core, salvation is something God does in us. What we do is only a response to His work in us.
Saul’s conversion reminds us that God finds us, even when we are not looking for Him or maybe in rebellion towards Him.
Saul’s conversion reminds us that God looks for people to cooperate in the conversion of others,
Saul’s conversion reminds us that it isn’t enough that we be broken before God, though that is necessary. And that God’s desire is to only use brokenness as a prelude to filling that we may follow His plan for our lives.