To Know His Will
By John McCoury
Roan Mountain, Tennessee
Acts 22:16-22 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.”
Paul recounts his own conversion experience to this enraged mob which had just been ready to tear him limb from limb! I am sure that if I had been in his shoes I would have been trying to get out of there as fast as possible. But Paul recognizes this as his opportunity and he wants to be the instrument to reach this stubborn crowd. So he seizes the only opportunity he has, hoping the Lord will give him success, and he tells of his own conversion and specifically the role which Ananias played. The details of this event are etched into the memory of the apostle. Though it occurred thirty years before, he has never forgotten a single detail. This was the moment he was chosen to be an apostle, and Ananias conveyed the commission to him. It had three parts, three aspects of ministry.
First, he was chosen to know the will of God. Now, that was not where God wanted him to go, or what God wanted him to do. What Paul had to learn was that the will of God is a relationship to his Son. When Paul understood that, he had all the power he needed to do anything God asked him to do. So many young Christians struggle at this point. They think that the will of God is some kind of itinerary they must discover, that if they can just find where God wants them to go, and what he wants them to do next, then they can do the will of God. No. The Scriptures make clear that the will of God is a relationship. It is your attitude of expectancy that Jesus Christ, living in you, will work through you. When you expect him to do that, you are in the will of God. Everything you do is in the will of God. Do anything you like, then, because it will be in God’s will, unless the Holy Spirit within you indicates otherwise, according to his Word. That is what Paul learned — the power by which a Christian lives his life.
Next, Paul looks back and says, This is what made me an apostle. I have seen Jesus Christ many times. He has appeared to me and talked to me. He told me, directly and personally, the things that the other apostles learned when they were with him as disciples. That is how I know them. Motivated by the love of Jesus Christ and an awareness of the majesty of his Person, Paul pushed on ceaselessly, out into the far regions of the earth, performing his apostolic ministry. Finally, Paul heard a voice from the Lord’s mouth, what his message was to be — to declare what Jesus Christ had said to him. It was the same message Jesus had given to the twelve, in the days of his flesh. That is how they knew that Paul was a true apostle — because he knew what they knew. That constitutes the same message that God has for all of us today — the words of his mouth, which Jesus had given to the Apostle Paul. Father, thank you that you have commissioned me as well to bear witness to your great work in my life. Help me to be faithful to that call. What are three vital aspects of the Apostle Paul’s calling which apply to all who seek to know and follow God’s will? Do we attempt to define or limit his will to a specific place, a particular activity?