Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saul’s Conversion and Hearing God

Acts 9: Saul’s Conversion and Hearing God

During my journey through the Book of Acts I read through Chapter 9 a couple of weeks ago, I thought that I had posted this blog already but after talking with my friend Tony I discovered I missed it. So here it is.

The first part of this chapter deals with Saul and his conversion experience. While the conversion is important there are some other things that really stood out to me.  One of them is the difference in how God spoke to both Saul and Ananias, and their subsequent reactions. The other is how God used this situation to change Saul’s vision and perspective.

Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

·         There was something significant about the light. During those days people didn’t normally travel at night, this means that when Saul and his men had this encounter with Jesus it was during the day.  The light that came from heaven was so bright that it could be seen during the light of the day.

·         It would also seem that the light had some weight to it, it carried the heaviness of God’s glory.  Evidence of this is that Saul fell to the ground because of the presence of the light.

Acts 9:4-9

Saul even though he was a Pharisee and knew the letter of Law and the Scripture, did not immediately recognize the voice of the Lord. Even though he was knocked to the ground under the heaviness of God’s glory the recognition still wasn’t there. But when Jesus spoke and identified Himself, Saul did not question Him as He knew it was Him. Then Jesus set Saul up for some changes.

·         Jesus questioned Saul’s mission

·         Jesus identified Himself and expressed His pain that was caused by what Saul was doing.

·         Saul turned his heart to the Lord’s

·         Jesus removed Saul’s vision, so that it could restored with a new vision that came from Him

In verses 10-19 we are introduced Ananias and his ministry to Saul.

Acts 9:10 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.”

This verse shows that unlike Saul, who was a religious leader and scholar and didn’t recognize God’s voice, Ananias immediately knew Who it was that was speaking to him. This tells me that Ananias had, had previous conversations with the Lord and that he knew His voice. More evidence that Jesus and Ananias had a relationship was that Ananias questioned Him on His instructions.

Acts 9:13-14 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

At some level he was saying, “Don’t You know who this guy is and what he has done? Really? You really want me to go and see this guy? Are you nuts?”

Notice that Jesus didn’t strike down or even rebuke Ananias for this questioning.  The fact is that Jesus knew exactly who He needed to talk to, to get the job done, vs. 10 said “there was a certain disciple” He knew why He picked Ananias; He knew that he would be obedient to His request.  My guess is that he had a proven track record of doing what Jesus asked him to do.  The short version of Jesus’ reply to Ananias is “I have chosen Saul to reach many and he will suffer many things for My name’s sake.” (vs.15-16) I can almost guarantee that what Ananias heard in Jesus’ reply was “I have chosen him” and “he will suffer”, regardless he was obedient and went to Saul.

Assumed Expectations: So it says in Acts 9:17 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.”  Nowhere in the recorded conversation between Jesus and Ananias do He tell him to get Saul filled with the Holy Spirit.  However this is what I like to call an assumed expectation.  It was such a normal part of the conversion experience in those days.  People accepted Christ, were filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized in water. There were no special new believer’s classes that had to be attended and sometimes all three happened simultaneously in the same day even.

So here is a re-cap of Saul’s conversion experience:

1.      He was on the right road on his way to do the wrong thing

2.      He encountered Jesus and his vision was removed

3.      He accepted Jesus

4.      He fasted and prayed for three days

5.      Ananias cam and laid hands on him

a.      He received his sight and gained new vision

b.      He was filled with the Holy Spirit

c.       He was baptized in water

6.      Shortly after his conversion he started preaching Christ instead of persecuting the Church

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