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ANANIAS THE SOULWINNER

(With material adapted from a sermon by Dr. W. B. Riley)

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, September 8, 2019


Please turn to the Book of Acts, chapter 9, verses 10 to 18. It’s on page 1160 in the Scofield Study Bible. Listen as I read it.

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:10-18; pp. 1160-1161 Scofield).

Ananias led Saul of Tarsus to Christ. Later the Bible speaks of “Saul, (who also is called Paul)” (Acts 13:9; p. 1166). Saul was given the Roman name Paul. He became the Apostle Paul, who preached the Gospel through the Roman Empire and wrote one-third of the New Testament. Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived. And Ananias was the man God used to lead Paul to Christ!

Make no mistake – this was when Paul was converted. He was not converted on the Damascus road, only awakened and illuminated. The Bible says,

“As he [Saul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:3-6; p. 1160).

Jesus spoke to Saul. Saul called him “Lord.” He told Saul that He was Jesus, and Saul was persecuting Him, for Saul was an enemy of Christ and had thrown Christian men and women into prison (Acts 8:3; p. 1159). Saul saw that he had been terribly wrong.

Saul was awakened. Saul was illuminated. Jesus showed Saul that He, Jesus, was the true Messiah. Saul was awakened to his sin of rejecting Jesus and, trembling, called Jesus “Lord” and asked Him what to do. Jesus told him to go to the city of Damascus. Saul was struck blind. For three days he prayed and fasted, not eating food or drinking water.

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But Saul was not converted yet. He knew that Jesus was Lord. He knew he had been on the wrong side. He knew he was a sinner. But you can know those things and not be saved. Saul was illuminated like Peter before him. Jesus asked His Disciples,

“Whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17; p. 1021).

Peter saw that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. But he was not converted until Easter evening when Christ breathed on him and Peter received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22; p. 1144). The Bible says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9; p. 1201). That’s when Peter received the Holy Spirit. That’s when Peter was converted. Before then, Peter had only been illuminated.

It was the same way with Saul. He was illuminated on the Damascus road. Jesus showed Saul that He, Jesus, was the Lord. Jesus showed Saul that he was a sinner. But he was not converted until three days later when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17; p. 1161). Then he was a saved man, just like Peter!

It was Ananias who God used to lead Paul to Christ. Today I want to bring out two points about Ananias, and apply them to you as you try to win a soul.

I. First, Ananias knew Jesus.

The Bible tells us, “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord” (Acts 9:10; p. 1160). He had a living relationship with Christ, for Jesus called him by his name, “Ananias,” and Ananias replied, “Behold, I am here, Lord.”

How wonderful for Christ to know you by name! You may say, “But doesn’t He know everyone?” Yes, He does, for He is God the Son. But I am speaking of something deeper than that. There was a relationship between Ananias and Christ. Commenting on this verse, Dr. W. B. Riley said, “There are many men who do not know God; there are no men unknown to God” (“Ananias – The Skillful Soul-Winner,” in Seven New Testament Soul-Winners, 1939). If you have not trusted Christ, He knows about you, but you do not know Him.

If you have trusted Jesus, He knows you and you follow Him. The Bible says that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, “calleth his own sheep by name” (John 10:3; p. 1129). Again, Christ said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27; p. 1129). If you have trusted Jesus, you are one of His sheep. Christ, the Shepherd, calls you by name. He knows you, and you follow Him.

Ananias answered Jesus, “Behold, I am here, Lord” (Acts 9:10). Jesus told him, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus” (Acts 9:11). Ananias followed Jesus and went where Jesus told him. There he found Saul and led him to salvation.

Someone may ask, “May I have a vision like Ananias did?” Yes, they are possible. But God will never contradict His own Word, the Bible. The Apostle Peter heard the voice of God when he was on the Mount of Transfiguration (II Peter 1:17, 18). Yet Peter said, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy” (II Peter 1:19), speaking of the Bible. Trust the Bible, not a feeling or a vision or a “word from the Lord.” Feelings and dreams and visions can deceive you, but never the Bible. Stay close to the Word of God, and let the Bible lead you!

Ananias was a Christian. Jesus used him to win the Apostle Paul. Now let me speak of your soul winning. I hope you will try to bring a person into the church. I hope you will work with him and stay with him until he is converted – and long after that, for a Christian still needs help. You can do this best if you are saved yourself. If you are not, you may do some things. The people with Chan the Apostate can write down a name and phone number. They can drive a person to a meeting. But they cannot bring a person to Christ if they don’t know Jesus themselves!

To win a soul, you must not only be a Christian. You must be wise. The Bible says, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30; p. 680). The verse can also be translated, “He that is wise wins souls.” To win souls requires wisdom. That comes from a deeper relationship with God through Christ. Here are some things you can do. Learn as much as you can. Listen to the sermons. Read them and think about them. Read the Bible and think about it. Speak often with the pastors. Talk with them about the person you are bringing. Go to work for Christ. Do everything you can to bring in one person. That will help you to grow! Seek to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18; p. 1320). Grow through experience, grow through God’s Word, grow through prayer, grow through obedience, grow through suffering, grow through the words of your pastors. May God help you to do it!

II. Second, Ananias obeyed Jesus.

Christ told Ananias, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul” (Acts 9:11). That was a tough assignment, for Saul had been an enemy of Christ. Ananias answered Jesus,

“Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9:13, 14; pp. 1160-1161).

Ananias knew that Saul went to Damascus to arrest the Christians and “bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2; p. 1160). And here the man was! Ananias must have thought, “Why him? Why do you want me to go to him, of all people?” Ananias might have thought that Saul would arrest him. As Dr. Riley said, “Saul was the man Ananias did not want to meet” (ibid.).

Yes, it was a tough assignment. Ananias did not want to meet Saul. But as Dr. Riley also said, “Ananias was the man Saul wanted to see...It was the Spirit’s guidance that brought them together.” God chose Saul to be saved. Although he had been an enemy, Saul was one of God’s elect. God chose Saul for salvation. And God chose Ananias to bring Saul to salvation. The soulwinner is chosen and called just as much as the elect sinner is. Dr. Riley said, “The same God who convicted Saul commissioned Ananias. I sometimes wonder if there is ever a convicted man without another commissioned at the same moment. I doubt seriously if God ever brings a man under condemnation for sin without saying to some one of the saints, ‘Go to that man!’” (ibid.).

Now let me speak to you. You, the soulwinner, are chosen by God, just as Ananias was. If the person is elect, God chooses you as the human instrument to save that person. Your soulwinning work is a tremendous and eternal responsibility. It isn’t just chatting with a person and writing down a name. It is far, far more. I pray that you will take your soulwinning work seriously, for it is a mission from God. Think of it that way, “I am on a mission from God. God has sent me to go to this person and bring him in.” Take time with the person you are trying to bring in. Pray for him. Get to know him. Take care of him. Don’t “process” him by handing in a name and letting the system take care of him, for it cannot. Only people, with God’s help, can do that. You may think, “But what if he’s not elect?” We don’t know who is elect. We are only told to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15; p. 1069). It is your business to reach out, “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 2:5; p. 842), whether they trust Christ or not. That is your sacred commission, given by Christ Himself. And He will reward everyone who obeys Him.

Jesus told Ananias to go to Saul, “For he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15; p. 1161). Ananias obeyed his Lord. The Bible says,

“Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:17, 18; p. 1161).

Ananias went to Saul. The man was converted and became the Apostle Paul, the greatest Christian who ever lived.

Ananias did not back away from a tough assignment. He took the risk. He went to Saul. Now let me speak to you. Let’s face it, winning a soul is a tough assignment. Writing down a name isn’t tough. Chan’s people do it. But winning a soul is quite a project. It is a tough assignment. That’s why most people won’t do it.

Winning a soul takes time. It isn’t enough to write down a name and move on. You have to meet with the person. You have to talk with him and get to know him. You have to bring him to church. You have to sit with him and become friends with him. You have to talk to the pastors about him. You have to pray and love and stay with him until he is converted – and then for years after he is converted, for new Christians need help. All this takes time. All this takes work. That’s why most people won’t do it. Will you? I challenge you to do it!

Winning a soul is tough for another reason, because most will reject you. But if you take up the assignment of soulwinning, you’ll be following Jesus. The Bible says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21; p. 1313). Jesus died for everyone, knowing that most would reject Him. The Bible says, “He is the propitiation [the payment] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2; p. 1322). I hope that you will follow Jesus’ steps, as Ananias did. I hope that you will set out to win a soul. If he rejects you, go to another. If he doesn’t, stay with him until you can go to another!

If you try to win a soul, there’s a peace and joy in that, even before the soul is won. And when you see a soul – a real person, not a name – come into the church, trust Jesus, and live as a disciple – your heart will rejoice “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8; p. 1311). Very few Christians ever win a soul. But if you win even one, your reward will be great when Christ comes to set up His Kingdom. The reward will be greater than you can imagine, for the Bible says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9; p. 1213). May God help you to win one soul!

Some of you have not trusted Jesus. Christ died for you. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. He did that to win your soul. If you trust Jesus, your sin is forgiven and you are saved. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Christ, please come to the front of the room now. Amen.


THE OUTLINE OF

ANANIAS THE SOULWINNER

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:10-18; pp. 1160-1161 Scofield).

(Acts 13:9; 9:3-6; 8:3; Matthew 16:15-17;
John 20:22; Romans 8:9; Acts 9:17)

I.    First, Ananias knew Jesus, Acts 9:10; John 10:3, 27; Acts 9:11;
II Peter 1:17, 18, 19; Proverbs 11:30; II Peter 3:18.

II.   Second, Ananias obeyed Jesus, Acts 9:11, 13, 14, 2; Mark 16:15;
Ezekiel 2:5; Acts 9:15, 17, 18; I Peter 2:21; I John 2:2; I Peter 1:8;
I Corinthians 2:9.