Greetings to the Father, Son, Spirit, angels and saints in Christ. In the last article, we established the biblical teaching that elders in the early church were responsible for rule or administration as well as teaching and preaching the word (1 Tim 5: 17). We also examined the prerequisites for the role of administration of the Food Pantry and were shown that men mighty in faith and power were the members of this early committee, with Stephen and Phillip being honored for their examples. They also carried the dual roles of administrator and preacher of the gospel, the latter being followed by signs and wonders. Today we will continue our trek through Acts, with focus on Elder Ananias in chapter 9.

ELDER ANANIAS

Elder Ananias is highlighted in Acts 9. Although he was not called by the title “elder”, I chose to give him that title because of the nature of his relationship with the Lord (he was not a novice), the job he was required to carry out and the person to whom he was sent. Following his conversion on the road to Damascus, Saul was told that he should go to “arise and go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9: 8). We later learnt that he knew early in his conversion that he would become a preacher to the gentiles and suffer for the name of the Lord, but the Lord did not tell him so directly in Acts 9: 1- 9. The Lord did not tell about his calling directly because he wanted to use a diplomat, a chosen vessel, called “a certain disciple” (Acts 9: 10) to do the task. This was the wisdom of God, because He wanted a faithful witness who would say that the Lord had revealed to him that Saul was now converted and sent to preach the gospel to the gentiles. In other words, God wanted Saul’s testimony to be credible. There is nothing like having the word established in the mouths of two or more witnesses.

Ananias was filled with the Holy Ghost and saw the Lord in a vision (one evidence of the infilling). Ananias’ close relationship with the Lord is revealed in their interchange, because he immediately recognized the Lord and also answered as if he was familiar with being called to by the Lord (Acts 9: 10). The instructions given to Ananias by the Lord were clear, direct and detailed. He was told to arise, go to the street called Straight, look for Judas’ house and to enquire there for Saul of Tarsus. The Lord also told him that Saul had seen him coming to lay hands on him for restoration of his sight (Acts 9: 11-12). Ananias, most importantly, was responsible for prophesying Saul about his all important mission that would change the face of the early church (Acts 9: 15, 16). For those saints desiring the office of elder in the church, can we say that we recognize the Lord when He reveals Himself and furthermore, what would we answer? Can the Lord trust us with chosen, high level assignments? I suggest that this was a high level assignment, because the Lord wanted a man who would break free from the Jewish traditions of the early church and go to preach the gospel to every nation. The preaching of the gospel to the gentiles by Saul and other believers is the main focus of the later chapters of the book of Acts.

Ananias’s maturity in the faith is revealed by his obedience to the Lord’s command even though he protested that Saul was notorious for his evil doings to the saints. He was a man who was trained in obedience to the Lord and this is a highly desirable quality to look for when selecting elders. He really trusted the Lord, because he was not aware of Saul’s conversion (Acts 9: 13-14). Would we have told the Lord that He was crazy? Look at the strategy of the Lord. He first revealed Himself to Saul in a dramatic manner, blinded him to make him oblivious to everything but the Lord and also to make him desperate to do anything He said, then told him to wait in the city because there was more to come. This early training in spiritual revelation was important for Saul because he would later need to learn to trust every word of the Lord that would be given in visions and by other routes of spiritual revelation. God gave to him information about Ananias’s name in order to train him in the confirmation of the word. Therefore, when Ananias came to him, Saul was more than ready to be delivered and to do anything that the Lord said.

Elder Ananias, a man who knew the Lord by personal revelation, knew the voice of the Lord, obeyed the Lord and was a trusted servant of the Lord, arose and did what the Lord required. His humility is revealed in Acts 9: 17 he entered the house and addressed Saul as “Brother Saul” (Acts 9: 17). His obedience was rewarded by signs following as the scales fell from Saul’s eyes, the new brother arose, ate meat to regain his strength and immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was indeed the Son of God (Acts 9: 20). A thought that just came into my spirit relates to the issue of signs and wonders and is an encouragement for those who believe. Ananias saw signs and wonders follow the obedience of the word of the Lord in relation to a specific assignment. While the call to preach and lay hands on the sick etc is addressed to every believer, or those believe, God sometimes calls us to do particular assignments to individuals, families, organizations etc, as the need arises, for particular seasons. It is important that we obey the instructions in order to usher in deliverance and a move of the Lord to those to whom we are assigned. Some years ago I was invited to become part of a prayer group comprising of women from my local church. The sister who invited me (Sr. Phillips), got a word from the Lord, with no shakes, quakes etc. We felt that we should go out into the community to pray for the sick etc in obedience to the Lord’s command. This mandate was confirmed by Prophetess Ruth Lyttle who told us to go, fear not. God began sending ministry opportunities our way, confirming the word with signs and wonders. Our Pastor Sonny Williams recognized the ministry of the group (calling us the “Tag Team”) and would take us with him to pray for other ministers in need because of the prophetic utterance in the group. This was a wonderful season of training for me and a time when we learnt to believe God for the impossible.

This brings me to another area of concern and a major issue. Ananias was never addressed by the title elder, but if I am wrong, please forgive me. He went his way without concern for acquiring fame (did he know that he would have been placed in the most important archive of all?), money or other rewards. He did what the Lord required in order to please the Lord. Some of us will have to do the will of the Lord in obscurity, even if for a season, unknown to the masses, news media etc. Will we be willing to say “yes?” Will we obey even if there is no personal gain? I encourage the Elders of the body of the Lord to make sure that we are standing with the Lord in the same kind of relationship that Ananias had. If you are an elder in the Lord, after the manner of Ananias, but not yet recognized by the body of Christ, God will make all of that possible in some way or the other. Just do what He says! The members of the early church learnt to recognize those men of this caliber as they grew in knowledge and one example is found in Acts 13. God bless you richly. When I return, I will examine Acts 11 and Galatians 2. Blessings!

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