by George Slover
“Then Ananias answered, ˜Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name” (Acts 9:13-14).
The initial reaction of Ananias to God’s instructions to preach the gospel to Saul of Tarsus was not favorable. One can imagine the fear that must have been in the mind of Ananias when he faithfully fulfilled his duty in preaching to Saul, the religious zealot.
Saul of Tarsus had been one of the most avid opponents of Christianity. Luke records his activity in Acts 8:1-3. Saul was a most unlikely candidate for the gospel. In 2005 I came close to sharing the feelings of Ananias.
The Hatfield Community School is located in Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica, W.I. Every year Christians from various states would converge on this area to conduct a Vacation Bible School. It was my privilege to work with these Christians in this endeavor. While some conducted the Bible classes, others went door-to-door searching for prospects for the gospel.
On our second day out my brother, L.J., and I knocked on a door and two men came to the door. Both had knives in their hands and both made a display of their weapons. L.J. said, “Would you like to study the Bible?” They looked rather stunned by the request and promptly put away their weapons. “No,” they said. L.J. replied, “You mean you don’t want to know how to go to heaven?” There was a long pause of silence after which they sheepishly declined his invitation.
Although our appeal wasn’t accepted, it reminds me that many of the first-century converts were also unlikely candidates for the gospel. The gospel changed the lives of religious zealots, murderers, prostitutes, homosexuals, and the devoutly religious.
The gospel is for all men. It has the power to redeem anyone who will receive it. As workers for the Lord, our job is to offer the invitation.