Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/ev/ev19971123.htm
ACTS: THE LOCAL CHURCH AS GOD'S AGENCY FOR DISCIPLING MEN
Part XIX: God's Sovereign Intervention To Unify Conscientiously Alienated People
Lesson: (1) God expects believers to heed Scripture in selecting the spiritual company he keeps. (2) If a godless party with whom no fellowship was once Biblically acceptable then REPENTS, it is GOD'S business to make that fact EVIDENT so that the godly can Biblically unite with the party, Mtt. 3:2-8.
- One of the marks of a godly believer is his capacity to separate in personal fellowship from ungodly people. This idea is promoted in 2 Timothy 2:20-22 with 2:16-18 and 3:1-5, and 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15.
- However, criticisms to the contrary abound, implying that people who are mutually godly are too separated from one another when they should not be. If this is so, how can these conscientiously alienated parties know when and how to unite in the spirit of Ephesians 4:3 without violating passages on separation?
- The answer comes in the account of the meeting of Ananias and the newly converted Saul of Tarsus.
- God's Sovereign Intervention To Unify Conscientiously Alienated People, Acts 9:6-19.
- When Saul of Tarsus was first converted to Christ on the Damascus road, there existed a huge problem -- the barrier between him and other godly people he had formerly persecuted.
- The solution was a divine intervention through use of a Biblically credible party to unite alienated parties:
- When Saul asked Christ on the road to Damascus what to do, Jesus told him to enter the city and wait for more instructions, Acts 9:6. He obeyed, and waited for somebody to approach him, Acts 9:9, 11b.
- Jesus then selected a reputable LINK in the man, Ananias to be that somebody to talk to Saul:
- Jesus appeared in a vision to Ananias, a believer in Damascus, and told him to make brotherly contact with Saul and to announce the reversal of his blindness, Acts 9:10-12.
- Now, Ananias was a very devout, reputable Jewish believer: (a) Paul later reports that he was a devout Jew, held in high regard by all of the city's Jews, Acts 22:12. (b) According to G. Campbell Morgan, (Acts, p. 231), this description pegged Ananias not as a Hellenistic Jew who would not have made him that respected by all the Jews, but rather as a conservative, Hebraistic one. (c) The fact that Ananias was held in high reputation with the Jews added credibility to Paul's testimony befor e the Jews in Acts 22:1 and in later making formerly persecuted believers accept his company.
- That being so, Ananias, as an upright, Hebraistic Christian, objected to Christ's command to meet with Saul due to the Biblically objectionable baggage Ananias understood that Saul carried with him, 9:13f:
- Jesus said Saul was from Tarsus, a learning center for secular Hellenists, implying non-Hebraistic trappings in Saul that would make the Scriptural Ananias want to shun him, Acts 9:11; Ibid., p. 229.
- Ananias also knew via many witnesses that Saul persecuted believers. From Deut. 19:15, the devout Ananias knew that the testimonies of these witnesses Scripturally obliged him to avoid Saul, 9:13.
- From Ananias' declaration to Christ in Acts 9:14, we see that he knew Saul to be in league with the Hellenistic, Sadduccean Jerusalem High Priest, making him opposed to the conservative Hebraistic stance of Ananias. This also marked Saul as a man with whom Ananias did not BIBLICALLY want to unite with in fellowship in any way, Acts 9:14.
- Accordingly, Jesus directly, clearly replied to Ananias that Saul was a changed man, a chosen vessel to testify and himself greatly suffer for the cause of Christ, Acts 9:15-16. We also know from Acts 22:14-16 that Ananias was told that Saul would see Christ, hear from Him, and witness of all that he had seen and heard, and that Jesus had appeared to Saul before this vision had been given to Ananias .
- Accordingly, Ananias obeyed Christ, reversing his former stance to unite with Saul, Acts 9:17-19a.
- Thereupon, based upon the credible witness of Ananias, Saul was received by the other Christians at Damascus, Acts 9:19b. Later, this testimony reached Barnabas so that he would feel conscientiously free to introduce Saul to the fellowship of the believers in Jerusalem as well, cf. Acts 9:26-28.
Application: (1) We should use SCRIPTURE to know when to SEPARATE from ungodly parties. (2) That said, God must CLEARLY reveal by reputable parties when people have CHANGED so that former alienations may REVERSE! (3) Otherwise, like Ananias, w e are to hold to our first stands!