So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:6)
He Was Told What To Do
The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the great stories of grace. Paul will later admit that he considered himself the chief of sinners among men. He tried to destroy the early church with every means given to him. Men and women were dragged off to prison. Paul persecuted the followers of Jesus to the death, punishing them in every synagogue and compelling the disciples to blaspheme. On the way to Damascus to bring bound any he would find of the church, the Lord appeared to Saul and warned him against the purpose of his mission. A light shone around him and a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Trembling and astonished, he asked the Lord what He wanted him to do. The Lord told Saul to go into Damascus and he would be told what he must do. He obeys and is led to the house of Judas where he remains three days without sight neither eating nor drinking.
There was a disciple of Christ living in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord comes to Ananias and tells him to go to the house of Judas and talk to Saul of Tarsus. At first fearful of why Saul had come to Damascus, Ananias is reassured by the Lord that his mission to speak with Saul is a divine calling and the persecutor of the church will become a chosen vessel of God before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Obedient to the divine will, Ananias finds Saul in the house and tells him he would be a witness for Christ to all men. Then Ananias tells Saul to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins. Saul is obedient to the word spoken by Ananias and becomes one of the most influential preachers of the first century.
Saul of Tarsus would become known as Paul the apostle. He would author many letters the early church would use as a foundation to establish the kingdom of God among men. His missionary journeys would open the borders of the church to foreign lands reaching even to Rome itself. The work of Paul is foundational to much of the New Testament doctrine of Christ. His story of conversion is one of the greatest stories of grace. It would be difficult to find many early saints who would have thought Saul of Tarsus would become an apostle named Paul.
When Saul was approaching Damascus, God had a plan for him. The Lord appeared to him and told him he must go into the city and wait for someone to tell him what he must do. God could have told Saul at that moment what he had to do. Jesus could have appeared to Saul and like Nicodemus explained everything Saul needed to know about being a Christian. The Holy Spirit could have miraculously filled the heart of Saul with the power of the gospel. That was not the plan of God. Saul was told to go into the city and he would be told what to do. No angel told him. A man came and opened the word of truth and Saul obeyed. He was not coerced into going into the city. There was never a time he was forced to be baptized for the remission of his sins. Saul was told what to do and he obeyed the word of the Lord. Through his obedience, Saul of Tarsus became a Christian.
The pattern of faith comes from hearing the word of God is the fundamental character of conversion. The Treasurer of Ethiopia had a man called Phillip to come and open the word of God to him. Peter was sent to Cornelius and his household to tell him words by which he and his household would be saved. The avenue of words is how the gospel works. Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus. His salvation did not come until three days later when Ananias came and spoke words to him. The Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, and his household, and Saul of Tarsus were told words whereby they could be saved. They all obeyed the word of God because they believed and accepted the word as truth. No one forced them to obey the word. They were told what to do and with honest hearts, obeyed. Salvation comes through the teaching of God’s word. No angel will appear to tell you what you must do. Jesus will not come and speak to you in some small still voice. The Bible is the word of God given to you to read, understand, and obey. If you do not obey the word, you will not be saved. Like Saul, you must go into the city and be told what to do. Without faith in the word of God and obedience to the will of God, there can be no joy and no remission of sins.