Read - Acts 9v10-19
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Gospel can save the worst and most wretched of sinners but often the church struggles to believe such a truth. Saul had met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and now the Lord commands a Christian by the name of Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul so that he might have his sight returned (v10-12).
Ananias receives the Lord's command but is initially apprehensive. Isn't this the same Saul who has done much evil to the church? Isn't this the same Saul who has come to Damascus to have Christians arrested and sent back to Jerusalem? (v13-14) Ananias is right. The man now praying in the house of Judas in Straight Street (v11) is the same Saul who until recently wanted every last Christian stomped into the dirt.
It's easy to roll our eyes at Ananias but I suspect each one of us would do the same. Imagine an announcement this week that a famous atheist has come to faith and will be preaching at church the following Sunday. Imagine the news that a terrorist has turned to Christ and will be sharing the Gospel at the next meeting of his political party. Imagine a report that the entire leadership of a false religion had believed the Gospel and were not urging their coreligionists to do the same. Would you believe any of these reports?
Ananias wasn't sure but the Lord was clear. He had chosen Saul to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, to kings and to to his fellow Jews (v15) and he would suffer for the sake of the name of Christ (v16). Ananias had heard enough and went and did what the Lord had commanded (v17). Saul's eyes were opened, he was baptised and a good meal put strength into his body (v18-19).
It would be exactly as the Lord decreed. Saul's unlikely conversion would one day end with him being executed for his faith in the city of Rome. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he would be used to write fourteen (thirteen if you don't agree with me on Hebrews) books of the Bible. He would preach sermons across the known world declaring the greatness of Christ and indeed at every turn he would suffer for the Gospel that he now proclaimed.
Ananias and probably many like him couldn't quite believe that this was happening. They had no doubt discussed Saul's arrival and put plans in place to minimise his impact. Instead he was now to be welcomed as a brother and soon the Gospel would ring from Saul's own lips. An old hymn states that God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. Indeed he does.
Saul's conversion and ministry show us that the Lord's ways and plans are not like ours but He will indeed accomplish all that He plans in the way that He plans it. Rest in the sovereign God for He says "Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'" (Isaiah 46v8-10)
Q3 What do the Scriptures principally teach? The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.