Saul to Paul (Part 6)

I received an email this morning requesting me to move my trailer from the parking I put it in because there was consternation amongst the students as a student uses that parking bay. The number was 10 and in a similar email I was told to use bay 10 for my trailer. After pointing this out, the person who allocated the parking bay to me realized he made a mistake and ought to have typed bay 12 and not bay 10. I followed instructions correctly but the instructions were incorrect and this is the reason for the consternation. The one thing you and I can believe and trust as never incorrect, confusing or contradictory is the Bible … the Word of God. It is inerrant, inspired, authoritative and never changes. People might get it wrong as the person allocating me a parking bay, but it is never ever wrong. I get the impression from what we know about Paul (still known as Saul) is that he fully understood what I have just said about the Bible. Notice today …

1) Ananias does four things.

Ac 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

(a) He went to the house where Saul was staying.

(b) He entered the house

(c) He placed his hands upon Saul.

(d) He spoke to Saul.

Although these steps might seem trivial, they are important because this man followed Jesus’ instructions fully and obediently. This is what God requires and expects from you and me. After placing his hands on Saul he says: “Brother Saul”. This is significant. He is not using the word “brother” in the context of Judaism. He is using it within the confines of the Christian Family. Whether Saul was aware of the change that happened in his life at this very moment, Ananias was because of what Jesus has said to him about Saul. Ananias now sees Saul not as the destroyer of the Church but as part of the Church of God! He then tells Saul what happened to him … that Jesus met him whilst on route to Damascus. This is quite miraculous for Saul because how would a Christian know this and at that, no one but those with Saul knew what had happened! The same Jesus who knocked Saul to the ground blinding him is the Jesus who informed Ananias! The purpose was twofold. The first was that Saul might see again and the second that Saul might be filled with the Holy Spirit. The seeing must be seen as physical and spiritual because once being filled with God’s Spirit, one’s spiritual eyes and ears come alive as the person is Born Again. Once alive to God through Jesus you are spiritually and eternally alive. You are saved. This is what happened to Saul.

Ac 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Whatever the scales were that fell from his eyes were, it symbolized salvation through the New Birth and being baptized was the sign of identification with the Lord Jesus, whose Church he had tried to destroy. Often we get lost in the real meaning of baptism. It is both identification and initiation. And although it does not say it was a public event, we may safely believe it was as Saul had men accompanying him. Whether they themselves believed or not we don’t know, but they saw what happened to this villain of the Christian Faith, this destroyer of the Church of God … in a flash he was brought to his knees and for three days he remained in prayer unable to see. We might safely assume that during these three days God was working in his heart, reminding him of passages of the Old Testament that referenced the Messiah.

(1) A lesson in salvation. There are two fundamental issues regarding salvation before the Holy Spirit can work. The first is hearing the message. In Saul’s case he knew the Scriptures and the Messianic Message thoroughly. Today a person needs to hear the gospel message but this message needs to be the full message which starts at Creation showing the goodness, greatness and profound holiness of God. Then the message needs to work through the Fall into sin in Genesis 3, showing how utterly hopeless we are, unable to save ourselves. This is proved throughout the Old Testament and with the arrival of Messiah, who is God Himself and only He is able to deal with sin because of His sinless state. He does this through His substitutional sacrificial death at Calvary. The point is that faith in Jesus is incomplete unless it is faith in the complete gospel message. Saul knew the complete gospel from his learning. Then there is prayer. Paul labored for three days praying. Once the gospel is understood academically and then prayed through spiritually, can a person grasp how sinful they are to enable the Spirit to convict leading to true faith and repentance to being Born Again.

(2) A lesson in baptism. As stated and implied above, many have various ideas about baptism. When we say baptism is identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection we actually imply more than those two elements. We actually identify with everything the Bible has to say about God and His holiness and man and his sinfulness that caused our Saviour to be punished (penal) for us (substitution) so that we might be pardoned and enter into the grace of God (acceptance, adoption, redemption), being Born Again by the Spirit of God.

(3) A lesson in acceptance. Like Ananias accepting Saul’s profession of faith, we too need to do so. Sometime we are slow to receive a testimony, maybe because we know the person’s past history … but only time will tell whether it’s genuine or not. As people accepted you and your testimony, so we need to be generous until proven wrong.

(4) A lesson in fellowship. Saul was received as a Christian brother, not just to Ananias, but to us too, for that is how we receive him and the letters his authored under inspiration. All men and women saved by grace because of Jesus’ blood sacrifice are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lord Your family is so huge and precious. Help us to knit neatly into Jesus’ community. Amen.

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