As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 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 9:3-6)
The Agency Of Teaching Is By Men
There are few stories as riveting as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. The early disciples were terrified of Saul, who participated in the death of an early Christian named Stephen and made havoc of the church, dragging men and women to prison from every city he could find those of the Way. Saul was relentless in his pursuit of the Christians. He was zealous toward God to destroy the church. His single purpose in life was to stamp out all that followed Jesus of Nazareth. With the authority of the Jews in Jerusalem, Saul chased down Christians in foreign cities, compelled believers to blaspheme Christ, and cast his vote against them when they were condemned to death. Saul of Tarsus was exceedingly enraged against the Christians.
One day, Saul was on a mission to find Christians in the city of Damascus when about noon, a bright light shone about him. Unknown to Saul, he was a chosen vessel for the Lord to take the name of Jesus to the world. The Lord appears to Saul on the road to Damascus and tells him to go into the city to the house of a man named Judas. Jesus came to Saul to appoint him as a minister and witness of the gospel to both Jew and Gentile. The Lord was telling Saul what his life would be in the service of the kingdom of God, but there was one thing the Lord did not do. He did not save the man from Tarsus while he stood in the road. Saul was going to become a great disciple for Christ, but the first thing that needed to be done was for someone to come and baptize Saul.
Jesus did not take away the sins of Saul. The Lord told Saul to go into the city, and it would be told him all the things he was appointed to do. Saul arose and went into the city. He found the street called Straight and then found the home belonging to Judas. It was quite a shock for Judas and his household to see Saul of Tarsus standing at the front door, considering all the things people knew about Saul. They would have known that Saul had come to Damascus to arrest all those who called upon the name of Jesus, including their household. By faith and trust in the power of God, Judas and his family accepted Saul into their homes, waiting for the word of the Lord. When the Lord appeared to Saul on the road, he had been blinded, requiring others to lead him by the hand. Now in the house of Judas, Saul was cared for by the very people he sought to destroy.
Shortly after the Lord appeared to Saul, the Lord also came to a man named Ananias and told him to find Saul and restore his sight. He would find him at the house of Judas. Ananias stood before Saul and, by the power of God, restored his sight to him. With everything that had happened to Saul from the Lord appearing to him, his blind walk to the house of Judas, and not eating or drinking for three days, one thing remained unresolved. Saul was still a lost sinner. The appearance of the Lord had not saved him. His belief in the word of the Lord had not saved him. Waiting three days without eating and drinking did not save him. It was not until Ananias came to the house of Judas and said to Saul, “Now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Saul arose and was baptized.
Saul was not saved on the Roman road to Damascus. The appearance of Jesus did not save him but the agency of a man coming to tell the man from Tarsus what he must do to be saved. This pattern of salvation is repeated throughout the story of the gospel. The gospel was given through the agency of men to the devout Jews gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit sent Philip to teach a man from Ethiopia. Paul and Barnabas, and Silas would travel many thousands of miles teaching the gospel to lost souls. Peter would teach a Roman Centurion and his household the saving gospel of Christ even though an angel had appeared to Cornelius.
The gospel is carried through the agency of men to other men. It is within the power of God to save any man with His grace and mercy without the intervention of human participation: but it is not His will! The gospel is carried by faithful men who teach other men. Our neighbors will not be saved by the appearance of an angel or intercession of the Lord in some bright light. It requires a man discovering the truth of God’s love either through his own study or a man like Ananias who will come and show the way of salvation. All the good feelings and signs a person will find in life will not save him. The idea that a man is saved because he feels saved is a lie. Faith comes from hearing the word of God and obeying that word. The agency of the gospel is through the interaction of men willing to teach other men redemption.