Just before Jesus ascended back to His Father, He gave these orders to His disciples –
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20 NLT)
The job of the church is to lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ. But it does not end there. Our job is also to lead them to a serving knowledge of Christ. We often call this ‘Discipleship.’
“The Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.” (Acts 9:15-18 NLT)
When the Lord told Ananias to go and pray over Paul, he was at first hesitant. The Saul he knew was an evil man and therefore Ananias was naturally a little fearful and perhaps somewhat prejudice. But when the Lord assured Ananias that Saul was now a changed man, Ananias went and did for Paul four things every church should do for every new believer.
- He Helped Paul with the Spirit
“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might …be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ananias did not give Paul the Holy Spirit. According to what Jesus told Nicodemus, except a person be born again of the Spirit, that person cannot be saved. Paul already had the Spirit, but now the Spirit needed to have Paul. To be ‘filled with the Spirit’ means to live under the Spirit’s control and power. Ananias needed to teach Paul that true godliness does not come from following the Law of Moses, but from yielding to the Spirit of God. How amazing it is that later, in many of Paul’s New Testament letters, he passed this same important principle on to others.
- He Helped Paul with Sight
“…so that you might regain your sight…” We know that when the light from heaven fell upon Saul, he was blind for several days. The sight Ananias helped Paul receive was physical sight. But I think that there is also another sight that Ananias helped Paul find. Ananias helped Paul to begin to see spiritual things as well. That’s what discipleship is all about. It’s taking the Word of God and explaining it to another believer so that they can see and understand spiritual truths.
- He Helped Paul with Strength
“Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.” Again, I am sure that this was physical food, for Saul had not eaten since he had met the Lord. But how well this illustrates the need for spiritual food, especially for someone who is a new believer. We need physical food to receive physical strength and we need spiritual food to receive spiritual strength. Ananias’ visit to Paul helped him get on his feet and begin a life of service for Jesus. Paul would need all the strength he could gain because throughout the rest of his life, he would have to suffer much for the name of Jesus.
- He Helped Paul with Service
“Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” Ananias could not imagine the great plans God had for Saul of Tarsus. Little did he know that God would use Saul to pen most of the New Testament. Little did he know that 2,000 years later, Christians would be reading Paul’s letters and studying about how the Lord sent him to help Paul get started.
In whose life are you investing the things someone has invested in you? Who are you helping make the transition from sinner to saint? Who are you preparing to go out into their world and make more disciples? Many of us cannot stand before a class and teach a lesson, but all of us can come along side of a friend and encourage them in the things of God. Are you God’s next Ananias to help develop the Lord’s next Paul?