Real Faith of a Forgotten Saint
October 19, 2012, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

A. A Real Man with a Surprising Commission
The Command (10-12) to test the genuineness of Ananias’ obedience. In the New Testament times, the name Ananias was a common name among the Jews. It is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Hananiah”. In the New Testament, three lives are recorded of men named Ananias. The first Ananias is found in Acts 5:1-11. He was a member of the assembly of believers who made up the first church in Jerusalem. Along with his with, Sapphira, Ananias sold a piece of property and lied about the amount, bringing a smaller portion as a gift to the church. Before Peter, Ananias lied and was rebuked for his sin. Immediately he fell down dead. Later, the same fate came upon his wife. Forever, he is a picture of hypocrisy within the church.
The last Ananias was the high priest and president of the Sanhedrin at the time of Paul’s arrest as recorded in Acts 23:2. He was appointed high priest in A.D. 48 and remained until 58. His arrogance at the time of Paul’s arrest was characteristic of his whole tenure. His apparent cooperation with the conspirators who were seeking to assassinate Paul (23:12–15) further reveals his unscrupulous character. In A.D. 66, when the Romans came to subdue the Jewish people, Ananias was himself murdered by assassins for his collaboration with the Romans. He is an example of the emptiness of a life founded on the practice of legalism and the worthless traditions of man.
The most important of the three was the disciple from Damascus whom God used to minister to Saul (Paul) after his conversion. Paul describes him as “a devout man according to the law,” with a good testimony before others (22:12). As Ananias laid hands upon Saul, he was showing the love of God. He called Saul, brother, as a way of showing acceptance. Saul received his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. The apostleship of Paul wasn’t founded on the ministry of another apostle, which could have been assumed if an apostle was the instrument God used. It was founded on Christ, who used this forgotten disciple to love on Saul. It is also striking to see that God used this average disciple to tell Saul that he would undergo great suffering for the cause of Christ. Little else is known of Ananias. There is nothing else revealed about him in the Bible. Tradition says that Ananias later became bishop of Damascus and died a martyr. He is a picture of the grace of God toward sinners. Jesus is the friend of sinners and He wants us to be the instrument He uses to show sinners today, that He is gracious. Interestingly, the name Ananias means, “The Lord is gracious”.

a. Notice that the Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision, but Ananias knew it was the Lord Jesus Christ. To me this indicates that in order to have God speak to you, you have to have a personal relationship in which He talks to you and you talk to Him. The word “disciple” indicates his unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ. The Greek word here is “mathetes” which means “to learn”. This was a part of the process Ananias was going through to learn spiritual maturity. We often think that a relationship with Jesus Christ is only based on what Christ can do to make our lives better. The other part of the story is what He can do through our obedient lives. We are His hands, feet, and mouths. He loves others through us. Here Ananias is told to do the following:
i. Arise
ii. Go to Straight Street (or Avenue) where he hadn’t been before
iii. Go into a house he had never visited before belonging to a man named Judas who he didn’t know
iv. Look for Saul of Tarsus, the murdering butcher who came seeking to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem to be tortured or killed for their faith, who was “PRAYING!!!”
v. Greet Saul, who is looking for you. He saw a vision that you would come, place your hand on him, and restore his sight.
Notice that God gave Ananias a simply task, but that this task was of amazing importance. Maybe Ananias understood the significance of his faithfulness and maybe he didn’t. The thing for us to understand, is that when we are asked to do something by God, it doesn’t matter if we understand it or not, we are to obey. God’s will is known by God and that’s all that is important. We are to be faithful in surrendering to God’s will.

b. The Argument (13-14)
Ananias responded like many of us would; he questioned the word and will of God. To make sure that Jesus knew who He was asking him to visit, Ananias wanted to tell the Lord Jesus Christ, all about Saul. His argument could have gone like this:
“Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”
Here is Saul’s resume:
1. He is the object of everybody’s conversation.
2. He did a lot of violence and evil to Christians at Jerusalem
3. He was the attack dog of the chief priests to arrest Christians, with their full authority and permission.
Reluctance to do God’s will is purely an earthly and a human response. Heaven knows reluctance to do the will of God.

c. The Command (15-16)
Notice the word “but”. In spite of all that Saul was known to be, God had a plan for both Ananias and Saul. For Ananias, God wanted him to “go” and be his instrument to help and teach Saul. Through Ananias, the church would see a leader giving approval to Saul’s conversion. For Saul, God was going to use him as a chosen (or handpicked) vessel (or carrying case) for God and the message. Saul planned to use Saul to preach and teach the Gentiles about Jesus Christ, the Jews, and earthly kings. God also wanted Saul to know that there would be a cost involved with sharing the gospel, and Saul would suffer many great things for the sake of Christ. Paul was a chosen apostle to the Gentiles. In order for Saul to become what God planned for him to be required the complete obedience of Ananias in going to Saul. Remember, God uses us as His instrument to reach and teach others. Who is in your life because wants to use you as His intervention to teach him what God’s plan for his life? Ananias was the instrument used by God to turn the raging bull known as Saul, into the bleating lamb known as Paul. Though he didn’t know how God’s plan could possibly work, God had a key that would be used in the life of Saul and he would never be the same.

B. From Raging Bull to Bleating Lamb (17-22)
God was planning on using suffering to transform Saul. Suffering is Christ’s classroom where we learn humility, compassion, character, patience, and grace. Years later, the Holy Spirit had Paul recount some the tools used to transform him. In II Corinthians 11:23-28, we are given insight into the suffering experienced by Saul. Make sure that you remember, God will sacrifice your outward comfort for inward transformation. Paul’s body wore the enduring stripes of suffering that he had experienced in severe beatings, stoning, imprisonment, shipwrecks, disease, loneliness, disease, ambushes, robberies, starvation, insomnia as well as the stress involved with the planting of new churches and then dealing with the infant churches’ growth processes.

C. A Forgotten Hero (17) The great majority of God’s Servants are just ordinary people just like you and me. All we need to be are willing instruments, surrendered to the will of our Father. We need to be faithful.
Lives characterized by FAITHFULNESS
a. We are willing to go. “Went”
b. We are willing to do. “Entered”
c. We are willing to love. “Put hands on” (which was an act of love)
d. We are willing to accept others. Called him “Brother” (which was an act of acceptance)
e. We are willing to proclaim. Told about Jesus
f. We are willing to help. Helped (Notice that the healing was immediate and permanent)
g. We are willing to invest our lives. Later Saul was baptized, probably by Ananias.
h. We are willing to reproduce. Notice that Saul began to point people to Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer. Of special interest is verse 22. Paul was said to be proving that this is “very Christ”. Not only did Paul preach (proclaim) Jesus but the word “proving”, which means “to knit together from several different strands”, indicating that he share Jesus as Christ in a way that was knitted together, seamlessly delivered with compelling logic.
D. Some Surprising Elements of God’s Will (amazed- ecstatic)
a. God’s surprises are always a part of God’s leading! Take notice of the surprising elements in this narrative: “Light from Heaven”, “Life-changing transformation”, “illogical and unreasonable command given in a vision”.
b. Surprises always intensify our need for faith. God often calls us to do things that only total faith in Him enables us to do.
c. Stepping out in faith always brings the details of God’s plans into clearer focus. When we step out, God often gives new insights that put the finishing touches on His amazing plan
E. Obedience always stimulates growth because God allows us to be stretched beyond our limits and we will see God do amazing things in and through us.

F. Let’s Get Real- Right now, are you totally trusting Him with all of your life?

1. Have you ever been skeptical of whether God can really take care of you if you totally follow Him?

2. Why did you doubt the reality of a God’s ability or willingness to fulfill His will in and through you?

3. How has God stretched your faith through others?

4. Why does God sometimes put us into difficult situations which are beyond our abilities to solve apart from Him?

5. We pray for God’s will to be done in the Lord’s Prayer in earth as it is in heaven. When God shows His will to you, how does your immediate response compare to the angels’ response in heaven?


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