No Impossible Cases Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Ananias understands that Saul has come to him so that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Look what happened; immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales. The writer is probably speaking symbolically; Luke records here that finally after three days of temporary blindness Saul has now regained his sight. After being baptized, presumably at the hands of Ananias, Saul received strength and remained a number of days with the disciples at Damascus.
The meeting between Ananias and Saul must have been very tense at first, but when Ananias calls him “brother” he showed his willingness to receive him as a fellow believer and a son of God.
Now it is getting exciting because this man Saul will go into God’s school for training and he will become a great disciple of Christ; he not only ceases to oppose Him but devotes himself entirely to his service and honor.
By contrast, many religious people live dull, unblessed lives. Their sins are forgiven, but Jesus is not Master and Lord. By that I mean that they don’t depend upon Him; they don’t trust Him like they should. They cheat themselves out of blessings because they never try something that can’t be done without God’s involvement. And they don’t know the pure joy that is realized through obedience to the clear commands of God.
Our third lesson for today is this: DISCIPLING NEW CONVERTS IS EXCITING.
Paul spent the bulk of his life as a loner. He was one solitary man on a dedicated mission to the Gentiles. But when a friend was needed, God always saw to it that a friend was there. In Damascus that friend was Ananias.
Now it is Barnabas’ turn. It says in verses 26 and 27, “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
Like that of Ananias, the initial reaction of the disciples in Jerusalem to the presence of Saul was one of fear. Therefore, Barnabas presented Paul as one who had been genuinely saved by the grace of God and who had spoken boldly of the Lord Jesus in Damascus.
One thing missing in Acts is Paul’s journey to Arabia, which he tells us was immediately after his conversion (see Galatians 1:16-17). He spent three years there teaching, but not learning, so he returned to Damascus. There he met with difficulties and he had a narrow escape from death. He was in danger from the Jews, who had determined to kill him for preaching the gospel and because he was a deserter from the faith. They laid in wait for him, but he became aware of their plot, either by men or the Holy Spirit, and the disciples in that city helped him escape by lowering him down by the wall in a basket.
It was after this narrow escape that he went to Jerusalem. There Barnabus (whose name means “the encourager”) was a great mentor. Barnabus stuck to Paul like glue. He was always helping, and encouraging, as he traveled with Paul on his first missionary journey. Barnabus was willing to do whatever was needed to be done. I wonder what would have happened to Paul’s ministry without Barnabus’s willingness to disciple and to help him.
We can expect some hard cases to be broken down and to come to know Jesus. I could tell you about some who I have known personally. But let me tell you about just one. My father never went to church as far as I know. He cussed, drank and ran around on my mother. But despite that, my family stayed together, and my father and I had a very close relationship and I loved him very much. At different times, I spoke to him about Jesus and he was always proud of what I did in church.
When he was 72, he was told that he had lung cancer, and he lived about two years after that. During that time my pastor, Brother Joe, began to visit my dad. They both loved fishing and hunting and every week Brother Joe would come to the house and they would talk. One day my dad asked for prayer. I began to see a change in him. We both knew that there wasn’t much time left, but my dad was a very strong man and he never complained. One day we sat down at the kitchen table together and I asked if I could read the Bible to him. I read him the salvation verses and explained them to him.
Romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:9- that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13- For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
We prayed together and my dad asked God to forgive his sins and then he asked Jesus to save him. I believe that my dad, who was the toughest man I have ever known, was saved that day. He died shortly after that. He was like the thief on the cross. He was never baptized, never did a single work for God, never went to church; but today he is with the Lord and I will see him again.
Today, we need men like Ananias who will come and stand with new believers. We need some Barnabus-type people to rise up to guide these new believers into spiritual maturity.
Remember, there are no impossible cases with God. Let’s pray and ask God to use us to stand with our weaker brothers and sisters and to encourage them and teach them.