Study 5 HOW THE LORD USED ANANIAS
STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 8 -11)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 9:1-17
One of the most humbling truths revealed in the Bible is that God uses men and women to accomplish His purposes. In this study we shall consider one man who was wonderfully used by the Lord – Ananias – who was privileged to seek out and lead Saul of Tarsus into fullness of blessing. We read of him only twice in the New Testament (Acts 9:10-17; 22:12-16), and he is presented as the type of Christian whom God can use. Consider the following points:
1. The man God uses must be a member of the Body of Christ
God works through Christians, through those who, by the miracle of the new birth and by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, have been made members of His Church, which is His body (John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13). In Acts 9:4 the Lord clearly told Saul of Tarsus that in persecuting Christians he had been persecuting the Lord Himself, because believers are members of the body of Christ. He is the Head, and they are members of the body – and so the disciples of the Lord and the Lord Himself are one. During His earthly ministry Jesus had an earthly body, and He lived and worked through that; but now His body is the Church, and from heaven He, the Head, works through the individual members of that body. Ananias was a member of that body, and if you and I are to be used by the Lord the same must be true of us.
2. The man God uses may be a very unlikely person
God reached Naaman through “a little maid” (2 Kings 5:2 KJV). When God wanted to lead Saul of Tarsus into the assurance of salvation He used Ananias. But who was Ananias? He is described in Acts 9:10, not as an apostle, not as an outstanding man, but as “a disciple”. God delights to use ordinary people and this should be a great encouragement to many – look up 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. You may be a very ordinary member of your church, but the Lord wants to use you as He used Ananias.
3. The man God uses must be living a devout life
In Acts 22:12 we read that Ananias was devout and highly respected. This means that his conduct was blameless and there was no unreality or insincerity about his testimony. Ananias was one who showed forth the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in his actions and in his words (Titus 2:10). God will use only those people whose lives are consistent and glorifying to Him. Is yours?
4. The man God uses must be utterly at His disposal
Some Christians are not available to the Lord. If God should tell them to go to their neighbour and invite them to attend church they would not be willing to do so. If He should tell them to leave their secular job and go to another place as a missionary they would be unwilling to obey. If He should tell them to give a certain amount of ‘their’ money to His work, they would not be prepared to do this. Ananias, however, was completely at God’s disposal. How do we know this? Verse 10 tells us that he was living in such close touch with His Lord that he could hear Him speaking to him. Read through verses 10-14 and notice the note of intimacy in this conversation between Ananias and the Lord. Ananias was on speaking terms with God. Are you? Then again, Ananias was willing to obey the Lord. It is true he asked the Lord some questions, but immediately the Lord emphasised that his job was simply to “go” (verse 15), Ananias “went” (verse 17). There was instant obedience. Sometimes to obey God means to incur the disapproval of men. Many young people today experience the disapproval and the misunderstanding of their parents when they obey a missionary call. How completely Ananias trusted and obeyed God!
5. The man God uses must be full of Christ-like affection
When Ananias went to Saul he did not say, ‘You scoundrel! You persecutor of the Church! You have done much evil!’ – compare verses 13 and 17. Notice he put his arm round Saul and said, “Brother Saul…” no doubt there were tears in his voice and compassion in his heart when he said these words! Here is a great test: when another Christian has harmed and hurt you, are you able to go to him and say, “Brother…”? Your answer to this question will determine whether God can or cannot use you.
6. The man God uses must be well-informed
We infer this from verses 13 and 14 (compare 1 Chronicles 12:32; Esther 1:13; Daniel 11:32). However, in 2 Timothy 2:15 we learn that we must know how to take our Bible and use it in pointing people to Christ. Do you know your way about your Bible? Can you turn to the verses which show why we need a Saviour?…why Jesus Christ is the Saviour we need?…why He is the only Saviour?…how and when and on what conditions He saves, keeps and satisfies…? – look up 1 Peter 3:15.
7. The man God uses must be able to lead others into blessing
On the very threshold of his new life Ananias led Saul into the fullness of spiritual blessing, because he showed him how to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (verse 17). Ananias was obviously in the enjoyment of this himself and knew how imperative it is for any Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit if he is to serve God effectively (Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18). We can never lead others into blessings which we have not experienced ourselves.