ONE CALLED SAUL
Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him 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. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Here we have the beginnings of the ministry of One Called Saul, whom we know came to be Paul, the Apostle. (Acts 13:9). He was of the opposite ministry of Abraham, (both mentioned in Stephen’s message of Acts chapter seven). Opposite in that Abraham was a Gentile, by whom the Lord raised up the Jewish nation. But Saul was a Jew, by whom the Lord raised up the Gentile church! Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Also, here we have the unique dealings of the Holy Spirit with Saul in the city of Damascus. He thought he chose this “strange city,” for the seeking out and executing the believers in Christ! Acts 26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
But neither Saul, nor any other man whom the Lord has chosen to use, belongs to himself, nor does he plot his own course even before his regeneration! Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Jeremiah 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. And we see also in verses fifteen and sixteen of our text, listed above, that God was in sovereign control of all of Paul’s future ministry.
So Saul thought himself to have chosen Damascus, requesting letters of authority from the high priest to their synagogues in order to bring those of this way, (a term used by unbelievers to denote Christians), bound to Jerusalem. But rather, it was Saul’s Lord who directed him there, for that is the time and place he had chosen to confront Saul with God’s glory! Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
And that was also the place where he had stationed one Ananias, a devout man, with a good report (Acts 22:12), to farther humble Saul and show him the importance of the benefits of the local church! He would later come to write of the blessedness of that benefit. Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Saul, like Naaman of old, (2 Kings 5) had to learn to receive help from the Lord in whatever form he deemed fit to provide! Naaman considered the river in which he was instructed to dip seven times to be cleansed from his leprosy, to be unfit for such a man of his importance. Not until his servants pleaded with him, did he finally agree to do so.
Saul did not resist like Naaman, but he, like Naaman, did have to face one that would have previously been “beneath his station!” For Ananias was not an apostle, not an evangelist, not a prophet, not a teacher, nor is it ever stated in scripture that he had the gift of tongues, or of healing! He was just a faithful servant of God, never to appear on the pages of the scriptures before, or after this event. (Paul refers back to him in the giving of his testimony concerning this event in Acts 22:12, partially quoted above.)
Saul had been used of the Lord to empty Jerusalem of the masses of believers, saved at Pentecost, by his severe persecution set forth by the martyrdom of Stephen. (Acts 8:1). This was to accomplish the judgment the Lord had pronounced against the city during his earthly ministry. (Luke 19:41-44). So with such demonic power behind him, which he erroneously assumed to be the Holy Spirit, he proceeds now to put out the light of Christianity wherever it could be found. John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
Therefore with what measure he mete, it was measured back to him, in that the Lord ‘put out his lights’ for three days, allowing only this “common little christian” to come to attend him. Some religionists will not yield to the doctrine of Christ’s absolute sovereignty and present reign, until they run headlong into the presently reigning Sovereign Himself! (Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;)
Now the Lord appears to both Saul and Ananias, in a vision to acquaint each of the other, and of his will for them both. And it is noteworthy that the Lord gives Ananias an insight into, not only who Saul was, and where he could be found, but he also informs him of that which he is presently doing. And that which he is doing is accepted by God as genuine! And just what was blind Saul doing? God said that he was praying! (Amazing that our God can listen intently to Saul’s prayers, while at the exact same time instruct Ananias as to his will!) And that means that the Holy Spirit and the exalted Christ were both involved, as they are both said to be intercessors for our prayer. (Romans 8:26, 34).
This should have been enough for Ananias not to have had sweaty palms, nor nervous anxiety, while he sought to locate Judas’ house on Straight Street! For the first indication that regeneration has taken place is the newborn infant’s cry! Psalm 116:10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: … Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Now let us consider that which is listed in verse twenty of our above listed text! The key word in that verse which sets forth Saul’s newfound calling is the word, straightway! It is the same Greek word translated in verse eighteen as, immediately! Wow!
The champion of the Jews, with letters in his mail pouch to destroy those ‘other guys’ is now proclaiming those ‘other guys’ to be right! It would be as if Goliath had quit fighting against David and Israel, turned around, and joined himself with David to fight against his own people, the Philistines! Wow! This experience causes him to write in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Listen to him tell of this to the Galatian saints: Gal. 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in me.
Wait a minute! Wait a minute!! Do you mean that he didn’t go to Bible College? He just started preaching? Yes! For God’s anointing was not that of a suggestive quality! It was, as always, that of an enabling quality! Peter didn’t go to Bible school! Neither did John, or any of the others. And even that which Saul had learned under the noted Rabbi Gamaliel, he had to go out to the desert and unlearn, having it made spiritual by the Holy Ghost. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
And did you notice our word, immediately in that sixteenth verse of that Galatians one passage? For that verse tells us what he immediately did not do! – He immediately did not seek out man’s approval, or instruction. And Acts 9:20 tells us what he did immediately do! – He immediately did began preaching Jesus Christ, whom Israel crucified, to have been the Messiah!
The Apostle Peter had walked with the Lord Jesus for his entire ministry. Saul did not! Peter was with the disciples in the upper room when the Lord Jesus opened their understanding! Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, … Saul was not!
Peter watched as they took the life of the Lord Jesus! Saul watched as they took the life of the first martyr, Stephen. They both denied the Lord prior to their public ministry! Therefore both were prepared for the honor of bearing the gospel by previous, deep personal humiliation! Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
And as stated above, from Galatians 2:7,8, they both had different assignments from the Holy Spirit. But both did the same thing within those assignments! For just like Philip, they both preached Christ out of the Old Testament prophet’s writings! Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Listen at Peter on Pentecost; the first public, Christian message after the Holy Spirit had fallen, and his first message since his denial of Christ: Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Then Peter clearly writes to us that the apostles received the gospel from the prophets by the Holy Spirit. So he and Saul, along with all the apostles came to faithfully preach the one and only truth – Jesus of Nazareth is very God! 1 Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Pastor Gene Breed