Used of God
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Used of God

Acts 9:10–20  (ID: 2019)

We don’t know much about Ananias of Damascus, whom the Lord used in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the apostle Paul. He was chosen not because he was particularly renowned or popular but because he was open to the Lord’s call, obedient to His command, and ready and willing to serve. Through this study of Ananias’s faithfulness, Alistair Begg examines how God continues to use seemingly insignificant disciples today to do great work for His kingdom.

Series Containing This Sermon

Jars of Clay

Selected Scriptures Series ID: 22501

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to open your Bible there. And we’ll pay particular attention to the section which begins at the tenth verse.

Tonight, and on each of the evenings that we open the Scriptures together, we’re going to look at a number of characters. And as we do so, it’s a reminder to us that each of us is forming a character, one way or another. We’re forming reputations and recollections that other people will bring to their thinking when they recall us, either in the immediacy of these days or in later days. And there will be certain things that attach to who we are and to what we’ve done that will be at the forefront of people’s thinking. That is one reason why it’s so important for us to live with short accounts and to continually ponder the question, “I wonder what would be written about me if my epitaph were to appear in tomorrow morning’s newspaper? What would they say about me tomorrow morning if my life was over as of tonight?” It’s a sobering thought, it’s an important thought. And it’s the kind of thing that people have lived and died with.

For example, the man whose name was Mr. Odd. The lawyer called “Odd”—O-d-d—went through his life with his name being such a burden to him. People would call him on the phone and say, “Hello, is that you, odd boy?” and “oddball,” and “odd sorts,” and all kinds of things—so much so that, as he drew towards the end of his life, he wrote into his will that his name should not appear on his tombstone, but rather just the simple inscription, “Here lies an honest lawyer.” And that’s what happened; he died, and that was the inscription on his tombstone. And people would walk through the cemetery and stop and look at it and say, “That’s odd!”

There are just certain things about all of us that we won’t be able to shake. And as we look at these characters tonight, and then in the coming nights, having looked at Gehazi on Sunday evening—a character whose example we certainly don’t want to follow—we’re going to look at an individual tonight whose name begins with A, and then on the second evening one whose name begins with B, and then on the third and final evening—what will be our final evening—one whose name begins with C. Somewhat arbitrarily chosen, I confess, but maybe you’ll remember A, B, and C.

And tonight, the individual’s name is Ananias. Ananias. He’s introduced to us in the tenth verse: “In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.” If you have the King James Version, I think it reads, “There was a certain disciple … named Ananias.” And although I use the NIV now, nearly all of my Bible memorization has been done in the King James Version, and I find myself reverting to it with great frequency. And so, I’ll probably refer to Ananias as “a certain disciple,” and that owes to the time when I was reading the proper version of the Bible, before I got onto this one.

All of us, doubtless, have heroes in the Scriptures. If we ask one another, “Who would you like to meet first when you get to heaven?” somebody’s going to say, “Well, I’d like to meet Moses. I want to talk to him about crossing the Red Sea.” Someone says, “Maybe Joshua. I’m still intrigued by those walls of Jericho falling down.” Somebody’d say, “You know, I’d love to meet Ruth—such a special character and somebody whose life I have admired.” Someone else might say, “You know, I’d like to meet Martha or Mary,” “Silas, to find out what Paul was really like in the jail there in Philippi,” and so we would go on.

Probably, out of this group tonight, if I had given you sheets of papers beforehand, not a single one of us would have written down this character, “a certain disciple named Ananias.” Because he’s not a biggie. He’s not one of the big ones, as it were, from the human reckoning. He’s not somebody who immediately springs to our minds. He does not get great coverage in the pages of the New Testament. And yet, he was God’s man, for God’s time, to do God’s task. And what I want to suggest tonight, as the very drift of what we’ll share at the end of today’s worship, is just this notion: that despite our preoccupation with big names and big photographs and big deals, God does not have the same preoccupation.

And just as we often say, “When we get to heaven, there will be many surprises,” and in the back of our minds, we hope we won’t be one of them—at least, that we won’t be in the “shock” category… Usually when you hear people say, “Oh, there’ll be great surprises in heaven,” what they mean is, “And I’ll be one of them!” Let’s beware of that nonsense! For God is not stuck with the personality syndrome which pervades so much of our thinking. And I want that to be an encouragement to many of us tonight who find ourselves at a gathering like this, and we may not have done tremendous things, we may not have been amazing places, we may not be well-known in human terms. And yet God is in the business of searching throughout the earth, looking for those upon whom he may set his hand, to use them in the way that he desires. And Ananias is just such an individual.

What we’re going to do is this: we’re going to discover what we’re told about Ananias in the New Testament, and then we’re going to summarize the account here in 10–20 in three statements, and then we’re just going to wrap it up with a couple of practical applications.

A Description of Ananias’s Character

So, first of all, then, what are we told of this character, Ananias, in the New Testament? Well, actually, we’re not told a great deal. Indeed, here in Acts chapter 9, as we’re introduced to him, we’re simply told that “there was a disciple named Ananias.” He is introduced in this way in the tenth verse.

Now, there is a great wonder contained in the fact that there was “a certain disciple” named Ananias in Damascus on this occasion. It is as a result of God moving by his Spirit, giving a birthday to the church. And following the day of Pentecost, as believers scattered throughout the regions of that time, the gospel began to be planted in all kinds of different places. And now, some two hundred miles northeast of Jerusalem, in this location, there were a group of disciples of the Lord Jesus who had begun to gather. And out of that group of disciples, there was this individual called Ananias.

Now, it was because there was a group of disciples in this area that Saul of Tarsus, who wasn’t particularly keen on Christians at this point in his life, was making his way with the express purpose of dealing with these people—dealing drastically with them. He had already supervised the destruction—cruel destruction—of Stephen. He’d been prepared to allow people to throw their coats down so that they might be freed up to throw the rocks with a more vicious expression of their hatred. And now he was on his way to carry out a further purge of these Christians, who were such a threat to the monotheistic Judaism which Saul of Tarsus held so dear. And he was “breathing out threatenings,” and he was breathing out “slaughter against [those] disciples of the Lord.”[1]

“The disciples of the Lord.” Now, these last three words are very important. Because they were disciples of the Lord. They were not disciples of a church, first of all. They were certainly not disciples of a denomination. They were not disciples of a peculiar theological point of view. They were disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ! And what marked them out was that they had been with Jesus, and they had been changed by Jesus—that is, by the Spirit with him and by the Spirit by him—and now they were becoming like Jesus. And Ananias was one of the group.

You and I are not disciples of Jesus Christ unless we have first said no to sin, said no to ourselves—and continue to do so on a daily basis—and are saying no to secrecy.

Now, they were individuals who had said no to sin, they had said no to themselves, and they had said no to secrecy. Incidentally, that’s a disciple—one definition of a disciple. You and I are not disciples of Jesus Christ tonight unless we have first said no to sin, said no to ourselves—and continue to do so on a daily basis—and are saying no to secrecy.

These people were known. That’s why Saul was going to be able to get ahold of them. And I want to say tonight, to some of us who vacillate in our approach to these things, who tend to mention the fact that Christianity can be seen in our actions, as of course it must be, and who use that as a cloak for allowing us never to verbalize our faith, I want to say this to us: either our discipleship will destroy our secrecy, or our secrecy will destroy our discipleship. But if you and I are in love with Jesus Christ, if we know that he has taken hold of our lives and has changed us, then we will be prone, within ourselves, to seek the opportunity to speak concerning this same Lord Jesus.

Now, Saul of Tarsus, realizing that this was going on, had a mission for Damascus. If he’d been successful, then Ananias would have been a convict. As it was, he was unsuccessful, and Ananias became a counselor. And God was at work in all of this.

Now, you need to turn forward, then, to Acts chapter 22 to find out the couple of other things that we’re told about Ananias. First of all, we’re told that he was “a certain disciple,” one of the group who was following the Lord. In Acts chapter 22, as Paul gives his testimony, which begins in the first verse, by the time you get to verse 12, he’s explaining what happened to him after he had seen this great light. And in verse 12, he tells his listeners, “A man named Ananias came to see me.” And now we find out two further things about him: one, he was “a devout observer of the law,” and “highly respected by all the Jews living there.” So, two further things concerning him. His description is that he was a fairly anonymous character.

His devotion was found in that he was committed to the Scriptures as he had them, in the Old Testament. He would be the embodiment, if you like, of the man of Psalm 1. What is the man in Psalm 1 like? At least the character that God commends:

Blessed is the man [who] walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law … he meditate[s] day and night. … He shall be like a tree planted by … rivers of water, [which] bringeth forth [its] fruit in … season; … whatsoever he doe[s] shall prosper.[2]

And Ananias is described as that kind of man—a fruit-bearing man, a devoted man, a man who loved the Word and loved God. What a beautiful description! A man, if you like, of the Book. A man for whom the Scriptures were opened, and a man for whom the Scriptures were being digested.

And consequently, we’re told that he had a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there. That is still in 22:12. That kind of reputation, I suggest to you, is not gained in five minutes, nor is it gained even in a few days, but it is only in the daily ebb and flow of life, as we go in and out of our houses. For Ananias, as he went about his business there in that region, as he was known within the structure of his family life, as people came over and spent time in his home—just in the flux and flow of life as we know it, people will build a picture of who we are and of what we hold dear. And they’ll be able to tell. We won’t need to placard it. They’ll just be able to tell by watching us. And when people watched Ananias, he gained a good reputation.

You know, tonight you and I have a reputation. Tonight you and I are

writing a “gospel,”
a chapter each day,
by the deeds that we do,
and the words that we say;
And men read what we write,
Distorted or true;
So what is the “gospel”
According to you?[3]

What are we told about this man? Well, he was “a certain disciple,” he was devout concerning the law, and he had a good reputation from the Jews that lived around him. That’s pretty good. There’s a lot of other things that could’ve been said that might not have been as commended. That’s the description.

An Ear Open, a Will Ready, a Life Used

Secondly, then, let’s try and summarize the events as we are familiar with them, many of us, in Acts chapter 9, concerning the nature of what this certain disciple was doing.

I want to suggest, first of all, that it is important we realize that he was open to the Lord’s call. Verse 10: “The Lord called to him in a vision.” Now, the important thing is not that he called to him in a vision. God could have called to him any way he chose. The important thing is that when he called to him, Ananias was unmistakably and clearly aware of what was going on. His ear was tuned to the voice of God.

Is your ear tuned to the voice of God tonight? Do you hear God speak to you through the Word? Does he speak in that unmistakable still, small voice, saying, as the Word is opened up and as people share it, “That’s true, that’s for you, take hold of that, eat that, this is my Word to you”? This is a mark of discipleship. This is the mark of those who are walking in the pathway of Jesus. What did Jesus say? “My sheep hear my voice. I call them by their names, and they follow me.”[4] And God has never spoken audibly to me. I never, ever heard him say, “Alistair,” in the way my father would. But there have been many times in this kind of context, many times on my own in the car, many times in prayer, many times in listening to someone sing, that God has spoken clearly—when our ears are unclogged and open for his voice.

I can still recall the thrill of the Sunday school lesson on 1 Samuel chapter 3. How I loved, and love, that story! How I wished that I could be in that temple! How I thought that Eli was a real dead-brain, you know, when Samuel kept going through to his bedroom, as the Sunday school teacher told me about. Keep going through, waking him up: “Did you call me, Eli?”

“No! Go back to your bed, son.”

“Oh, okay.” Samuel, away back through to his room. The voice comes again, back through. “Eli, what do you want?”

“I didn’t call you, go back to your bed.”

Back to his bed! Can you imagine, the kid’s going nuts. Samuel’s going, said, “I’m losin’ it! I’m hearing voices in the night!” Third time, back to Eli: “Eli!”

And then Eli says, “Oh, wait a minute. I’ve got it now. Sorry. Here we go. Go back. Go back, and when the voice comes again say, ‘Speak, Lord; for [your] servant heareth.’”[5]

Oh, to preach to congregations who come to the worship of God on the Lord’s Day with that as their theme! Not this scrambling, jambling horde of people, talking about where they’re going for lunch, and how they bought a new Caravan, and what happened to their grandchildren, and who knows what’ll happen in the next general election, and “Oh, wait a minute, I think I just heard the buzzer going; I think it must be worship beginning.” No, no. People who are coming to the Word of God, saying, “Speak! ’Cause I’m listening!” Not coming for entertainment. Not coming to give points out of ten for whether the guy’s funny, or long, or short, or good, or no good. But coming because they want God to speak! That’s discipleship! That’s Ananias. He had an ear that was open to the voice of God. God give us such ears!

But not only was that the case, he also had a will that was obedient to the Lord’s command. For many of us may have heard the voice but never obeyed the call. Some of us may be in this meeting tonight, and we heard the voice somewhere along the line, as someone preached or through the counsel and guidance of a loved one or a friend. And we made a commitment to the Lord; we told him we were going to do something, or we were going to go somewhere, or we were prepared to give or spend our lives in a certain way. And we were so sure, as that time came to an end. Well, years or months have passed; we’re no further down the line. Do you think God is gratified by the fact that we had an emotional surge at the end of a meeting somewhere? That we just heard his voice?

Jesus said, “I’ll tell you, the guy who really follows me is the one who hears my voice and puts into practice what I tell him.”[6] We’re back on the children’s Sunday school again, right? “The foolish man built his house upon the sand.” “Foolish man,” ’member that? Used to slap the person’s face next to you if you got the chance. Doing this … “the sand.” “Foolish man built the house upon the sand, sand, and, and, the rai—” And the Sunday school teachers are going crazy, you know; they tryin’ to teach Scripture with these songs, and you’re beating the person around you and stuff. “And the walls came tumbling down,” right? And “the wise man built his house upon the Rock.”[7]

Some of us are waiting until our fear is overcome to be obedient. And God says, ‘You be obedient, and I’ll help your fear to be overcome.’

Well, we know that, but what was the difference? The wise man and the foolish man both heard the same message. The difference was, one did what he was told, and the other one was contented just to have heard it.[8] And that’s what Jesus said: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all these things, and do this, and do that, and do the next thing?’” Jesus said, “You better get out of here; I don’t even know who you are!”[9] And then he asked them, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things I tell you?”[10] “If I’m Lord, you obey me. If you don’t obey me, I’m not Lord!”

And Ananias not only had an ear that heard, but he had a will that obeyed. And notice that he obeyed before he had the specific details of what he had to do. God spoke: “Ananias?” “Yes, Lord!” He knew who he was talking to. “Yes!” And then comes the instruction. Very, very clear: “I want you to go to Straight Street.” Well, everybody knew Straight Street. Everybody knows Straight Street in Damascus today; it runs three miles, from east to west. It’s still there—not exactly as it was then, but it’s still Straight Street. “I want you to go to Straight Street,” he says, “and you will ask for a man from Tarsus, he’s called Saul, for he is…” And how his ears must have been open now! “Ask for a guy called Saul.” Ding! Saul. Whoa! “He is praying!” Praying? “In a vision he[’s] seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

Now, I love Ananias because he’s so human. Verse 13: “‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’” The Lord could easily have answered, he said, “Ananias, are you trying to inform me of something? I mean, are you trying to tell me something that I don’t already know?”

It’s the same thing as Moses: “Well, you know, I’m not a very good speaker, God. Pharaoh’s a tough guy. I mean, we got big problems in Egypt. I mean, I’ve got a brother, he’s terrific, man. You should meet my brother. He can do the stuff!” God said, “Hey Moses, who made your mouth?” “Fine, okay. I got it clear.”[11]

And the humanity of the response here, the natural response of his heart: “Listen, I’m scared!” Kind of hard for us to grasp. Try and create the scene: The church in America is under persecution. Churches are being closed. People are coming with submachine guns and boarding up the doors. Anyone who shows up at church is herded into vans and driven away and incarcerated (i.e., put in jail). And that one of the biggest persecutors has just presided over the death of one of the key church figures in Chicago. And he’s on his way to Detroit, where he’s planning to have an even bigger celebration of his persecution. And as he makes his journey, something happens to him, and God speaks to you and says, “I want you to go and meet this fellow. He’s on I-96. He’s in a parked car, not far from the service area. Go there. He’s been praying. Lay your hands on him!” How do you think you’d feel? I think, if you’re honest, you’d feel perhaps two reactions: one, the reaction of fear, and two, the reaction of resentment.

And we can only assume that Ananias, being a human individual, knew something of that, and yet God overcame his fear. God proved in Ananias’s life what Paul later told Timothy: “Hey Timothy, God didn’t give you a spirit of timidity, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”[12] And some of us are waiting until our fear is overcome to be obedient. And God says, “You be obedient, and I’ll help your fear to be overcome.” And certainly, that was the experience of Ananias.

Also, he may well have felt a measure of resentment. After all, he was coming to destroy the Christians, of whom he was a part. The news of Stephen had already begun to travel. And yet, as Ananias was obedient to God, God gave him victory over any feelings of dislike that he may well have had in coming to this man, Saul of Tarsus. And he was able to bless the one who had cursed the Christians, and he was able to pray for the one who had despitefully used them.[13] I can imagine some of us arriving there, and we might have dealt with him very differently.

Verse 17. He not only had an ear that was open to Lord’s voice, he had a will that was obedient to the Lord’s command, and he was used in the Lord’s service. Verse 17: “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul.’” Now, that’s so familiar to us. I wish somehow it could not be familiar, so that it could strike us with freshness again. Try and think it out: this is like Colonel Gaddhafi becoming a Christian, and you being sent as the first Christian to pray with him.

And notice the courage of Ananias: he went in the house. Notice the love of Ananias: he called him “Brother Saul.” That’s heavy-duty, folks. That’s big-time. Sometimes our expressions of affection for those who are in the family of faith is an awful lot colder than the warmth that is displayed here by Ananias. I can imagine some of us—I can imagine myself—going along here, especially if people from the church found out that we were going, right? ’Cause you might have some kind of third-degree separation you’ve got to deal with or something—or fourth degree—because, after all, you know, Saul knew So-and-So, who knew So-and-So, who knew So-and-So, and since he knew So-and-So, you couldn’t speak to So-and-So, because the So-and-So, So-and-So, So-and-So, So-and-So problem is going to come up, you know, as a major issue. And we might have gone into the room and said, “Hey, you know, Saul, I want you to know, before we get started on anything at all, that I am here reluctantly. And I want you to know that I don’t approve of anything that you’ve been doing. And furthermore, I’m not even sure that you’re a proper Christian, Saul of Tarsus!” And so on and so on. Because we need to cover ourselves so that everybody back home didn’t think that somehow we had compromised the gospel, or we were prepared to welcome somebody who didn’t fit the bill.

Not for Ananias! God said, “Go.” Ananias said, “Fine.” He went in the room, he said, “Hey, if God spoke to me in this way, and this happened to Saul, Saul, you’re my brother.” “Brother Saul.”

Can you imagine how Saul felt? He sees a blinding light at the time of the noonday sun. So it wasn’t the sun; it was brighter than the noonday sun. That’s the last thing he sees. And now as he sits in the darkness… Do you ever try that, sitting in the darkness with your eyes closed? And having one of your children lead you around the room? It’s scary! Especially if your children are like my children, ’cause you never know where they’re going to lead you! And Saul of Tarsus is sitting there in the quietness of the room—undisturbed by aeroplane noise, nothing at all, just in total silence. There he is. The door opens; who knows if Ananias let himself in or not? And a man comes up to him and puts his hands on him. It’s going to be real important what the fella says. He said, “Brother Saul.”

That’s discipleship: an ear open, a will ready, a life used.

Ah, what a lovely example this is—of compassion, of obedience, of gentleness, of discipleship. How prone some of us are to the pharisaical spirit. We would have stood, and stood with the Pharisees, and said of Jesus, “This is ridiculous. He’s going in and spending time with people like Zacchaeus! What’s he doing going into a house like that? Doesn’t he know who Zacchaeus is?” And Jesus comes out and says, “I know exactly who Zacchaeus is. And that’s why I was in his house.” Because “it is not those who are well who need a doctor, but it is the sick.”[14] “For the Son of man [has] come to seek and to save that which was lost.”[15]

Some of our church fellowships, loved ones, need a jolly good shake, don’t they? We need a shake from the inside out. We need a shake by the Spirit of God, to take us back out into the highways and byways and the thoroughfares of our lives. How quick we have been to condemn. How quick we are to tell those young people that their records are all a load of nonsense. How quick we are to condemn the homosexual population. Well, who’s going to go to them? Jesus went to the lepers. Who are the twentieth-century lepers in our Western culture? Would we go to them, would we touch them, would we put our hands on them, if Jesus said we had to? You see, that’s discipleship: an ear open, a will ready, a life used.

The humility that he displays is equally marked by the loyalty that he shows. He doesn’t come in and give a speech about who he is. He doesn’t come in and tell Saul who he was or what he’d done. No big introductions, no fanfares. He was just “a certain disciple,” doing what disciples should do—that is, doing what they’re told. What a curse we suffer from with the preoccupation with personalities in our day. How easily we fall into the trap. What a challenge to live a humble life. How quick we are to want to write the book Humility, and How I Attained It! How quick to put on the noticeboard of our offices: “No, I am not conceited, although I have every right to be so!” Alas, how seldom do I find in my own life the grace of humility, which is the very soil in which the seeds of God’s manifold goodness grow. “This is the man or the woman,” says God, “to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my word.”[16] May the Lord be merciful to the church congregations, to the search committees of our land, that can’t find a pastor because they can’t find a big enough name. Wherever did you learn in the Bible that God somehow had pledged himself to big names and big guys and big shows? So what happened to us? Are we rewriting the Bible, before the century closes?

God loves to use “certain disciples” like Ananias, with three lines in the whole of the New Testament to his name, but a “Well done!” in the kingdom of heaven.

Do you believe that, loved ones? Do you see what that does? I’m going to wrap it up now, you’ll be pleased to hear. What this says to me is this: Listen, you just concentrate on doing what disciples do, which is having an ear that is open to God’s voice, having a will that is obedient to God’s command, and having a life that is sacrificed for usefulness in his service. Don’t you worry about where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do, how you’ll manage to do it. You don’t worry about any of that stuff. You just trust your heavenly Father!

Just do what Corrie ten Boom did, as she describes it in The Hiding Place. She tells how her dad told her that she would go on a train journey, and that she would have the ticket on the day of the journey. And do you remember how she tells, she kept going back to her dad, saying, “When will I get the ticket?” This was two weeks before the journey. And her father said to her “On the day the train goes, you’ll have the ticket.” And she said, “And so it is with God. We’re so busy going back, worrying about the tickets. God says, ‘On the day the train goes, you’ll have the ticket. Just trust me!’”[17]

Well, I want to issue a call tonight, to discipleship. Not a call to be a leader, not a call to be a preacher, not a call to be an official, not a call to be a personality, not a call to be known, not a call to be famous, but a call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That’s all! A faithful follower. So that on the day when we stand before him, whether it be in the rearing of our children as we nurture them through our days, whether it be as a godly granny or a godly grandpa, whether it be as a young single person making our journey through a career in nursing or in medicine, whether it be at a factory bench or sweeping a floor to the glory of God, that we would have as our epitaph, “Here was a disciple of Jesus Christ.” That would be enough.

“Well,” you say, “well, isn’t that just true for all of us?” No, I don’t think so. Children’s chorus:

Twelve men went to spy in Canaan,
(Ten were bad and two were good).
What did they see to spy in Canaan?
(Ten were bad and two were good).

Some saw the something-something-something.

That’s the King James Version.

Some saw the grapes in clusters fall,
Two saw that God was in it all.
(And ten were bad and two were good.)

You see, Joshua and Caleb stood out from the pack, ’cause they had an ear that was open, a will that was obedient, and feet that were in his service.

John Oxenham writes in his poetry,

To every soul there openeth a way, and a ways, and a way,
And the high soul treads the high road,
And the low soul gropes the low.
And in between, on the misty flats, the rest drift to and fro.

To every man there openeth a way and a ways, and a way.
And the high soul treads the high road,
And the low soul gropes the low;
And every man decideth the way his soul will go.[18]

You wanna just drift with the group? You want to just flop back and forth? Or do you want to go for God? Do you want to be “a certain disciple” called Mary, called Jane, called John, called George, who lived in Grand Rapids, who lived in Detroit, who lived in wherever it was? You take care of doing what you’re told, and let God take care of putting you where he wants you. That’s discipleship. And that’s the example of Ananias, “a certain disciple” in Damascus.

[1] See Acts 9:1 (KJV).

[2] Psalm 1:1–3 (KJV).

[3] Commonly attributed to Paul Gilbert. Paraphrased.

[4] John 10:27 (paraphrased).

[5] 1 Samuel 3:9 (KJV).

[6] See John 14:15.

[7] Ann Omley, “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (1948). Lyrics lightly altered.

[8] See Luke 6:46–49.

[9] Matthew 7:22–23 (paraphrased).

[10] Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21 (paraphrased).

[11] See Exodus 4:10–12.

[12] 2 Timothy 1:7 (paraphrased).

[13] See Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28.

[14] Matthew 9:12 (paraphrased). See also Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31.

[15] Luke 19:10 (KJV).

[16] Isaiah 66:2 (paraphrased).

[17] Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, with Elizabeth and John Sherrill, 35th anniversary ed. (1971; repr., Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 2006), 44. Paraphrased.

[18] John Oxenham, “To Every Man There Openeth” (1913). Lyrics lightly altered.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.