Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
At present there are several religious groups that have outstanding charges from the government related to the ungodly mandates they imposed on religious groups. We have mentioned before that all my life time I have heard of the need of separation of church and state. The state does not want to be influenced by religion, although they do accept false religion. The state is run by the religion of humanism. Humanism has man as its highest authority.
Thus we see that the state does not really want separation of church and state. They want the authority to tell the churches how to operate. It is similar to feminists who claim they want equality between men and women. They are not interested in equality. The women who subscribe to feminism, want to be superior to men.
There has been a fight between God and man since the fall of man. The fight is on the side of man, not God. God is superior and He is all powerful. He is God and man was created to glorify Him. All people have lived in defiance of God at some point, and many remain in that state all their lives and they never accept the fact that they were wrong until it is too late. They shut out the truth that God has made available to all people. Ignoring or shutting out the truth does not remove the truth.
This week there was a continuing court case of a religious group in Edmonton that originally faced over 1 million dollars in fines, but now has had them reduced to over one hundred thousand dollars. This is still an excessive amount. There should be no fines levied to any religious group for meeting. As we have mentioned before, the government does not know the difference between one religion or another. Most people have no idea of the difference either.
The lawyer for this group stated that as he wanted to argue his case, he wanted to use the charter as the basis of his argument. The judge decided that she was not going to allow that argument to be used. As we have mentioned before, the governments and the courts do not care about the constitution or the charter. They are human documents and the current authorities believe they can interpret them as they please and they can ignore them if they want to.
Those who are saved need to understand that the authority we have to function as a New Testament church is from God, not from man. Man did not develop the idea of church. Many people have corrupted God’s design for a church, but Jesus Christ is the head of every true local church. We must understand this and we must learn to stand upon that authority. That does not mean the government will leave us alone. They are pagan and they think they have all authority. True churches must guard against giving the impression that the government has the authority over the true church. We must preach and teach that Jesus Christ is the head of any and all true local churches.
In our text, we see that Ananias was sent to Paul to pray for his sight to be restored. He was also sent to tell him what God’s call upon his life as a saved man was. We are reminded in this passage that when a person is saved they have come under the care and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been saved from being a servant to sin to being a servant unto God. We also know from the Bible that it is a good thing to be under the care and authority of God. God shows us in Genesis 1 that man needs to be under His authority. Man was not created to be his “own boss”. We see in Creation that all of God’s creation is under His authority.
Man chose to try to get out from under God’s authority in Genesis 3, but he discovered that is an impossibility. Man has been fighting against God since the fall of man and that has created many unnecessary problems for man. Those who humble themselves and trust in God for salvation and then for direction are blessed in ways that the ungodly will never know nor understand.
Paul was blessed in turning to God in repentance and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
In verse 16 of our text we see that Paul was commanded to get up and be baptized after he was saved. He had been given spiritual sight, and Ananias had been directed by God to pray for him to receive his physical sight again. God gave him his physical sight, but called on Ananias to be that human vessel through whom He would give Paul his physical sight.
Some people try to isolate this verse from the rest of the Bible and they suggest that Paul’s baptism washed away his sin. It is important once again to have the Word of God in hand. It is also important to read what is written. The word “and” is used two times in this verse. Paul was commanded to arise and be baptized by calling on the name of the Lord. That was a command of God. He was also commanded to arise and wash away his sins by calling on the name of the Lord. The structure of the verse shows us this.
Furthermore, we cannot isolate this verse from the rest of the Bible.
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
These are just two of many verses that clearly tell us that salvation is entirely a work of God. Baptism is a command of God for the person who turns to Him in repentance and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Salvation is God’s gift to man. Man must turn to God and ask for that gift. The truly repentant sinner will not ask for that gift in a deceptive manner. He or she will understand they are asking for that gift with no hesitancy. They have been convinced in their spirit by the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God, that this is their only hope. They know there is no other option. They may have tried many different things in the past, but when a person is drawn by God to turn to Him, they come without reservation.
Biblical baptism is a picture of what has already taken place in salvation. It is a command of God for all saints. It gives those who witness the baptism a picture of what happens when a person is saved. It is important that the pastor who officiates at the baptism, teach the Biblical purpose of baptism so that those who observe have the right understanding of what is taking place.
In the following verses Paul began to give testimony of the things he experienced as a born again Christian. We must keep in mind that there are things that happened to the apostles and others in the book of Acts, that were unique to that time. There are things that happened there that did not continue after the Scriptures were completed. It is important again to remember that God commands the saints to:
II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
When we humble ourselves and trust in God as the true God that He is, we will come before Him with awe and reverence. We will not try to force our finite views on His infinite Word. We will not be puffed up with pride and think we can pick and choose that which we like. This is why the Bible makes it clear that true saints need to be a part of a true local church. That is God’s design and He was preparing the apostle Paul to be used as one of the twelve apostles that would complete the Scriptures for mankind.
In verses 17-18 God spoke directly to Paul and warned him not to go to Jerusalem at this time. The saints at Jerusalem were not spiritually ready to receive Paul as a brother at this time. The ungodly would tear him apart when he would tell them that he was no longer a Pharisee, but was now a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God knew that Paul needed some teaching prior to being exposed to the wiles of the devil. He also knew that the saints at Jerusalem needed further teaching to receive Paul as a brother.
We learn in these verses that God has a genuine care for His saints. He does not save a person and then leave them to fumble around in the dark on their own. He provides the means for the true child of God to grow in Him and to be grounded in Him.
This again is the purpose of the true local church. The past two years have seen many splinter groups start up. Some of them started up because people were hungry for socializing and the established churches were bought by the government and thus they bowed to the ungodly demands of the government. There were groups that met “secretly” during the past two years and they have continued since that time. Most of them are not Biblically organized. Most of them appointed a “leader” or a group of leaders and they have met their social needs in that way. However, they have not met their spiritual needs. They have suppressed those needs by the activities they have developed.
Those that are genuinely saved, will not be content in those groups. They will know from the Word of God that they are not being fed as they need to be. God provides for His children through His Word and the Holy Spirit, Who indwells every true child of God. He will work in the heart of the true child of God to bring them into true fellowship with the God and Savour Who saved them.
Jesus Christ is the Head of every true local church and He has provided that place as the place for His saints to be trained to know how to walk faithfully with Him. God has given us His Word and no saint is left to be solely dependent upon the pastor of the local church. The pastor must be ordained of God and trained by God for the ministry. God appoints godly men to do the training. Those godly men will be identifiable by their testimony and by their obedience to the sure Word of God.
In our text, Ananias was such a man. He began the training in Paul’s life. However, Paul needed further training as an apostle. He needed that training directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 1 points out that Paul was sent into the desert of Arabia for three years to be personally trained by the Lord Jesus Christ. This again was unique to that time. This is one reason why we know there are no apostles today.
Every true apostle needed to be an eyewitness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul personally saw the Lord Jesus Christ and He was personally taught by the Lord Jesus Christ just like the other eleven apostles were. He was equipped for the work that God called Him to.
Every true pastor must be trained by other godly men for the work that God has called him to. The local church is under the Lord Jesus Christ’s authority, and the man that leads that work, must be trained under His authority. No true pastor will have seen the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be trained by other godly men through the Word of God. His training will be evident. The wise will submit to God’s way.