Saul, Saul
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 15 September 2013
Part 3 of 3


We are continuing in our study of Acts 9:1-19 where we find the name of Saul being repeated by our Lord. Thus far, we’ve seen Saul’s encounter with Jesus (vv. 1-9) and Ananias’ encounter with Jesus (vv. 10-16). But now, we will look at Saul encounter with Ananias (vv. 17-19) and conclude with some lessons.

Verse 17 tells us that Ananias went his way and entered into the house of Judas where Saul was. Ananias’ faith was greatly strengthened by the words of Christ. His fears were overcome and he did as he was told.

After entering the house, he found Saul, just as the Lord had told him, and he placed both his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Isn’t it wonderful that Ananias, without any hesitation or reluctance, acknowledged Saul as a brother in Christ and a fellow Christian? These two men, who were poles apart just a few days ago, now belonged to the same household of faith, to the body of Christ and the family of God. That’s what the gospel of Christ does!

Ananias then told Saul that the same Lord Jesus who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus earlier had also sent him to him. And the purpose for his coming to Saul was twofold – both outward and inward or both physical and spiritual.

The physical effect was the restoration of Saul’s sight, while the spiritual effect was that Saul might be filled with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit was already active in Saul’s life convicting and converting him. But in addition to that, Saul was to be filled with the Spirit in a way that would uniquely empower him for service as an apostle.

And so immediately after Ananias laid his hands on Saul and declared those words in verse 17, there fell something like scales from his eyes and he was able to see once again. Luke only records the physical effect of the restoration of his eyes, but the spiritual effect of being filled with the Holy Ghost is certainly implied.

Then, according to Acts 22:16, Ananias exhorted Saul not to wait any longer but to arise and be baptized and so Saul was baptized that very day, and in all probability, it was Ananias himself who baptized him. Saul was now officially a member of the visible Church of Christ.

Verse 19 tells us that he received some food, having not eaten for three days, and was strengthened in his body, and he remained for a few days with the disciples at Damascus. No doubt, Ananias would have been very instrumental in bringing the other Christians into contact with Saul, and testifying to them that he was indeed a totally changed man, and thus that there was no need to be afraid of him anymore.

Those must have been days of rejoicing and praising God among the Christians at Damascus for His marvellous work of converting this great persecutor and delivering them from what appeared to be certain and terrible persecution at his hand.

As for Saul, he enjoyed his first taste of Christian fellowship, and indeed one of the marks of a transformed life is the desire to be with fellow Christians.

Lessons

Here are two lessons that we can learn from this passage.

First, we learn that the God whom we worship is a God who can do great and unexpected things. God is powerful and He does wonderful works. That must have been something that Ananias would have testified for the rest of his life. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is a miracle that stands alongside the most amazing of all the miracles in the Bible. Who would have ever thought that such a thing were possible?

If ever there was such a thing as an unconvertible enemy of the gospel, it was Saul of Tarsus, the zealous and murderous persecutor of Christianity. But God showed Ananias and He shows the rest of us that nothing is impossible with Him. If the Lord would but put forth His divine power, then the work will be done.

Dear brethren in Christ, do you believe that? Oh how often we need to be reminded that the God whom we worship and serve is a great and mighty God. Very often, we pray for something or someone but we don’t really think that God can do it.

We pray for the conversion of a relative or a friend but we wonder if that could ever happen. Perhaps, we may even say to ourselves, “I just can’t see him or her ever coming to Christ.” Or perhaps we are praying that the government of this land would rule the nation according to the standard of God’s justice and righteousness, but we just can’t see things changing for the better. Or maybe we are praying that God would stir the hearts of more to come to worship and seek Him, but in our hearts, we don’t really believe that very much will change. Or perhaps we are praying that a particular brother or sister in Christ will be delivered from his backsliding ways but it seems so impossible that he’ll ever be restored and you are ready to give up praying.

And like Ananias, we too may suffer from a weakness of faith. Ananias’ lack of faith was so great that he was even prepared to object to the Lord’s clear instruction for him to seek out Saul of Tarsus. But the Lord dealt gently with him and helped him in his unbelief. And eventually, Ananias had the privilege of being the first Christian to extend the right hand of fellowship to the leading Apostle of the New Testament.

May the Lord use His Word to strengthen our faith too, and may we be found persevering in prayer, believing with all our heart that God can do and indeed He does do remarkable things even in our time. And may we give all the glory to our great God of wonders.

But second, we learn the lesson of obedience. Verse 17 says, “And Ananias went his way and entered into the house…” True faith always works itself out in obedience to the Lord’s command.

I’m sure that as Ananias made his way to the house of Judas, the devil would have tried to cast doubts in his mind concerning Saul’s conversion in order to turn him around. “Was he really converted? What if the whole thing was really a ploy to lure the Christians out of hiding? Don’t be a fool, you’re walking into a trap and exposing the rest of the Church to unnecessary risk.”

Since the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden, the devil has always had something to say to turn us away from obeying the Lord. “Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?...Ye shall not surely die…

It is only through faith in the Lord and in His precious word that we will overcome the world and the evil one. And remember that this faith is not alone, but is accompanied by obedience, for faith without works is dead James says.

Despite all his feelings of reservation and perhaps even fear, Ananias believed the word of the Lord and he did what the Lord required of him. And he did it willingly and cheerfully. Notice how he embraced Saul as a brother in Christ and counseled him to be baptized without delay. This is a wonderful example of what it means to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength.

And so, may we marvel at the power and grace of God in converting such a great enemy of Christ, and may we love God above all by believing and obeying His commands, however difficult or contrary to our feelings they may be. Amen.

—Linus Chua