Throughout history Christians have used the refrain, “The Holy Spirit is at work!” to describe their excitement about what God is doing in their lives and those of their churches. This was certainly the case for the first Christians. Luke (in Acts — he’s the author) tells us of all the miraculous works of God in and around the lives of that small band of believers. God is advancing His kingdom through the proclamation of His gospel and the miraculous transformation of men’s and women’s lives for His glory.
Acts 9 contains several stories of these miraculous transformations. The first is perhaps the most familiar. Even if you have a cursory knowledge of the Bible and Christian history, you are somewhat familiar with the conversion of Saul on the way to Damascus. Two less known, but no less dramatic stories conclude the chapter in Peter’s healing of Aeneas and Dorcus in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Between these two miraculous transformation stories, we find Barnabas (perhaps as equally dramatic) bringing and standing with Paul (Saul) before the other apostles in Jerusalem. They were afraid of this man, but Barnabas wasn’t (or, at least overcame his fear).
I only want to focus on the first of these stories today.
God Takes Initaitive: Jesus approached Saul on his journey to Damascus with a blinding light and confronted him about his plans to persecute and kill Christians (Jesus literally says, “me.”). It was Jesus (the risen Lord) who initiated the interaction with Saul. It was Jesus who called to Saul. It was Jesus who said, “Follow me.” Saul action was to respond after Jesus came to him.
God is Sovereign: Jesus sent Saul into the city with a change of orders. Instead of persecuting Christians, he would be preaching the gospel of our resurrected Lord. Jesus had chosen to use Saul for this divine purpose. He was to be transformed for that purpose.
God’s Call is Irresistible: When Saul received the call from Jesus, he couldn’t refuse it. He couldn’t reject it. He couldn’t walk away from it. Jesus took hold of Saul’s heart and transformed it. Saul could not resist the dramatic call of God on his life.
God Takes the Initiative: Ananias was a faithful man. He was a disciple in Damascus when he had a vision from the Lord that told him to go and help Saul. Ananias wasn’t looking for this call, but God sought him out.
God is Sovereign: Ananias had a divine appointment. He had been selected by the sovereign and gracious hand of God to go to Saul, to minister grace to Saul. He didn’t want to go at first, but God sent him anyway.
God’s Call is Irresistible: Ananias couldn’t say no. He had received call from God. He had to answer the call. He didn’t have an option to walk away. His heart wouldn’t let him. He didn’t want to resist the call after he had an encounter with Jesus. He was chosen by God. He was sent by God. And, he went.
The Same is True for Us.
This story is normative in the Bible and in Christian experience. God is the one who initiates His interactions with us. It is God who comes to us in our need. It is God who seeks us out when we wander from his fold. It is God who rescues us with his own blood. It is God’s Spirit who arrests our hearts. It is God who comes to us in our times of need and rebellion from him. He does it because he loves us and has sovereignly chosen us to be his. And, the advances of his sovereign and electing grace in our lives is irresistible. When he transforms our hearts for his glory and purpose, we cannot resist him. Resistance is simply impossible.