Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 3p (sermon at 3:45); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022.06.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:6–19

Read Acts 9:6-19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus tell Saul to do (Acts 9:6)? Where does He tell Saul to go? What does He say will happen to him? Who else was there (Acts 9:7)? What did they do? What did they hear? What did they see? What does Saul do in Acts 9:8? What does he see? How does he get to Damascus? What was his condition/conduct for how long (Acts 9:9)? Who was where in Acts 9:10? Who addresses him? How does Ananias answer? To what street does He tell him to go (Acts 9:11)? To whose house? To ask for whom? What will that person be doing? What had Saul “seen” (Acts 9:12)? How? What is Ananias’s concern in Acts 9:13 about Saul’s past? What is his concern about Saul’s present (Acts 9:14)? How does the Lord answer about Saul’s future (Acts 9:15)—what does the Lord call Saul? What will Saul bear? Before what three groups? What will the Lord show him (Acts 9:16)? Where does Ananias go in Acts 9:17? What does he do to Saul? What does he call him? Whom does he credit for his action? What two things will the Lord do? What happens, when, in Acts 9:18? What does Saul do? What else is done to him? What does he receive in Acts 9:19? With what effect? 

How does a sinner become an ordained servant of the gospel?  Acts 9:6-19 looks back to the morning sermon on yesterday's Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord makes His ordained servants by subjecting them to dependence upon His Word, subjecting them to the authority of His other servants, subjecting them to His plan, and subjecting them to dependence upon His grace for their part in it. 

The Lord had convinced Saul about Himself and brought him to saving faith. Now, the Lord designates and prepares Saul as an ordained minister of the gospel—indeed, that great class of gospel minister that is limited to twelve: the apostles. How does the Lord do this?

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon His Word. The person that Saul had been is undone by his encounter with the Lord Jesus. Far more arresting than the blindness (Acts 9:7-8) was the new sight: Jesus is the LORD God. Now what will Saul do? The answer is pretty clear: whatever Jesus says. And the first thing that Jesus says is to go somewhere to receive the next thing that Jesus says. “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). 

Jesus could have given him complete instruction then and there. But, it is the Lord’s way to make us dependent upon His Word in a continual way, and to make us dependent upon His own way of giving us that Word. Since the new apostle would himself be one of the main ways that Jesus spoke to others, it was important for him to be brought into subjection to the Word Himself. The fasting in Acts 9:9 (combined with the praying mentioned in Acts 9:11) seems to be an acknowledgement of the fact, and embracing of the fact, that he needed to wait upon the Word of the Lord—upon which he was now more dependent than food and drink.

The Lord subjected Saul to the ministry of His other servant, Ananias. We don’t know what Ananias’s office was in the church at Damascus. Acts 9:10 simply calls him “a disciple.” But Ananias is the one that Jesus has chosen to lay hands on Saul. This isn’t up to Saul, and it isn’t even really up to Ananias; his objection in Acts 9:13-14 is not sustained. 

The same is true for each of us. Everyone in the church has those whom Christ has assigned to be over them. And those who have authority receive it as an assignment from Christ (cf. Acts 20:28Hebrews 13:17). One of the first things that happens to a man when he is being called into office in the church is that the Lord provides recognition by others for the man’s calling.

The Lord subjected Saul to His plan. It’s the Lord who chooses the vessel (Acts 9:15). He chose Saul. The minister of the Word is a vessel, a container. The main thing is not the container but the contents: the Name of Jesus. Who He is and what He has done. 

It’s the Lord who chooses before whom this vessel will bear the Lord’s Name (verse 15)—Saul was to preach before Gentiles, kings, and sons of Israel. For every believer, and especially for the minister of the gospel, the Lord Jesus has already decided what our opportunities and audiences will be for telling about Jesus. There is great comfort and power in this. We need not fear the hearer, when it is the Lord Himself Who has decided who will hear us and when. And there is great privilege in this: every opportunity to tell about Jesus is a specially designated assignment from Him.

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon grace. The apostle’s role and privilege would take the form of suffering (Acts 9:16), and much of it. “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” In order to go and preach and suffer, there is much that he would need. Eyesight would be a plus! So Ananias lays hands upon Saul to show that what is being given is being given from Christ, and he says that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul might receive his sight (Acts 9:17). To that, Ananias adds that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately, there is a physical sign (the falling of the scale-like things) of Jesus’s mercy to restore Saul’s vision, and a spiritual sign (baptism) of Jesus’s mercy to save and sanctify Saul by the Spirit. His fasting and prayer have been answered by the Lord’s own testimony of His saving and sustaining grace, so now the new apostle is free to eat (Acts 9:19).

All ministers (and all Christians) are entirely dependent upon grace. They must be strengthened by Christ, for they will suffer much. They must be nourished by Christ, for they have much work to do. They must be forgiven and cleansed by Christ, for they are sinful. And they must be empowered by the Spirit of Christ, for their ministry seeks that which only divine power can accomplish. The ministry is not a place for super-men. It is a place for super-dependent men, who have an almighty Savior and Lord.

How does your routine/habits show dependence upon the Lord’s Word? What difference does it make for your responsibilities that they have been appointed by the Lord? What difference does it make for your troubles? Where do you get endurance and strength for the Christian life?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for saving us for Yourself and for calling us into Your service. Grant unto us to be instructed and directed by Scripture, and to receive the reading and preaching of Your Word as Your personal address to us. Give us endurance and strength for all that You have called us to do, and make us to see the roles and events of our lives as assignments from You. Wash us by Your blood and feed us by Your body, for we ask it in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23A “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

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