The Reluctant Evangelist (Acts 9:10-19)
Sadly, many Christians simply will not speak to anyone about Jesus.
Yet, the Scriptures still teach that Christians should be evangelistic. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] takes away” (Jn 15:2). Unless we are actively bearing fruit, the Father will remove us from the Son.
We need to be an evangelistic people. When people think of this church, they should think that we are a group concerned about sharing our faith. But, are we really concerned about sharing our faith? Are we being “reluctant evangelists?” This morning, we want to examine the case of one reluctant evangelist.
Evangelists Can Be Reluctant, vv 10-14
Earlier in this chapter, Saul of Tarsus had an encounter on the road to Damascus. When the Lord revealed himself to Saul, Saul asked what he should do. Here we see Jesus fulfilling that promise and sending one to Saul to tell him that he must do.
There was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. Ananias is a common name among the Jews and means “Jehovah is gracious.”
Since Ananias was a common name among the Jews, this could have been nearly any Ananias. The only distinction given for Ananias is that he was from Damascus. He is simply called “a certain disciple.”
The disciple who baptized Saul, the greatest missionary the church had ever known, was simply a certain disciple—he was no great leader in the church. One does not need to be a great leader in the church to do evangelism; he can simply be “a certain disciple.” God has called each of us to a certain area of service. Our service may not be great, but we need to fill our area of service faithfully.
The Lord called to Ananias in a vision, and Ananias said, “Here I am, Lord.” We here see a willingness on Ananias’ part to obey God. He said, “Here I am”—He was ready and willing to hear this message from God.
The Lord told Ananias to go see Saul of Tarsus. Ananias was to go to the Street called Straight, find the house of Judas, and find the one who called Saul of Tarsus. He was told to find Saul, for Saul was praying. After his encounter with Jesus, he had nowhere else to turn but to God in prayer.
Saul had seen a vision of one named Ananias coming and restoring his sight. Remember that Saul lost his sight in his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:9). Saul had lost one of man’s most precious possessions, and, no doubt, he was anxious to get it back—In his vision, he was promised his sight back.
Ananias was reluctant to go to Saul. Ananias had heard of the harm Saul had done to the church in Jerusalem.
Even in antiquity, news traveled quickly—Ananias knew about Saul. Saul had done much harm to the church in Jerusalem. He consented to the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Saul made havoc of the church and dragged men and women off to prison (Acts 8:3).
Ananias knew that Saul had authority from the chief priests to bind all who called on the name of Christ. In Ananias’ thinking, if he went to Saul, he would be bound, taken to Jerusalem, and executed. Ananias was, therefore, reluctant to go to Saul.
Ananias was a reluctant evangelist; we can be reluctant evangelists, too.
Ananias was scared for his life—Unless we talk about a cold-blooded murder, our lives aren’t going to be in any danger.
We might say that it won’t do any good. It doesn’t matter if it does good or not, God has commanded us to go. Jesus himself talked with individuals with whom he did not good—Many of those who heard Jesus’ message rejected what he had to say. God told Ezekiel to go to the wicked man whether or not the wicked man listened (Ezek 33:9).
We might say that we don’t know how. Evangelism is not a complex matter. Surely you could tell someone how much Jesus loves him and how to become a Christian. At the very least you could set up a Bible study to be conducted by someone who knows how to evangelize.
We might say that we don’t have the time—If we don’t have time for God, we need to make time for God.
Don’t be a reluctant evangelist! Be an evangelist who talks of what Jesus has done for him. If we are reluctant evangelists, we might miss opportunities.
Are you a reluctant evangelist?
Even Reluctant Evangelists Can Convert, vv 15-19
The Lord told Ananias to go to Saul.
The Lord simply told Ananias, “Go.” If Jesus could give us a message, it would be likely this—“Go.” He did tell his disciples to go into all the world (Mk 16:15).
Saul was a chosen vessel for Christ. Saul had been chosen by Christ for a special purpose. That purpose was to bear Christ’s name to Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
- Saul did go to the Gentiles. He is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. Throughout Acts we see Saul preaching to Gentiles, e.g., in Acts 17, he stood in the midst of the Areopagus and addressed the men of Athens.
- Saul did go to kings. Paul stood and made his case before King Agrippa (Acts 26). Paul appealed to Caesar and from what we know he made his case before Caesar.
- Saul did go to the children of Israel. Immediately after his conversion, he preached Christ in the synagogue (Acts 9:20). When Paul first went into a city, his custom was to go to the synagogues first (Acts 17:2).
Saul would suffer many things for the name of Christ—2 Corinthians 11:23-28 recounts Paul’s sufferings.
Ananias went to Saul—He went his way and entered the house. He was obedient to the vision he received from Christ. We need to be obedient to the Word of God, too.
He laid his hands on Saul.
Ananias referred to Saul as “brother.” Although Saul was not a Christian at this point, he was a fellow believer in Christ. However, Ananias likely called Saul “brother” because he was a fellow Jew.
The Lord sent Ananias to Saul so that—
- He might receive his sight. Verse 18 tells how that Saul’s sight was restored to Ananias. Since Ananias was not an apostle, apparently an apostle had laid hands on Ananias and imparted the miraculous measure of the Spirit to him.
- He might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul was an apostle and was, therefore, baptized in the Holy Spirit. However, this likely refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit which belongs to every believed (Acts 2:38).
Once Saul’s sight was restored, he arose and was baptized.
Saul received some food and was strengthened.
He stayed with the disciples in Damascus some days.
Even though Ananias was a reluctant evangelist, he converted Saul. This shows the power of conversion belongs to God, not to man. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). When Paul preached to the Corinthians, his preaching was in demonstration and of the Spirit and of power “that [their] faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:5). As we preach the Gospel, men will come to rely on it and not on us. We must help people place their trust not in us but in the Gospel itself.
Even reluctant evangelists convert when they preach the Gospel. Although Ananias was reluctant, he went and preached to Saul. Even though we might be reluctant, we need to preach to those around us.
After Saul heard the message from Ananias, he arose and was baptized (Acts 9:18). When honest individuals hear the Gospel today, they will arise and be baptized. Are you an honest person? Have you arisen and been baptized?
If you need to come, do so as we stand and sing.
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.