Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 24, 1953
NUMBER 20, PAGE 3,9b

"A Certain Disciple"

C. L. Howard, Ottawa, Kansas

One of the most outstanding characters mentioned in the New Testament is Saul of Tarsus. If work is any criterion then perhaps he is the most outstanding, except of course our Lord. Of the twenty-seven books in the N. T. he supplied fourteen, while the other seven writers supplied thirteen. "I labored more abundantly than they all." "But when he who set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood ..." (Gal. 1:16,16 RSV) So far as the record reveals there was only one other servant of God that had a similar "call" — "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5 RSV) The lives of these two men are parallel in several respects.

When, in the providence of an all-wise God, the time arrived for God to use this man whom He "foreknew" it became necessary for God to "qualify" him. Luke, the historian, gives us a vivid description of how, when and where the qualifying was accomplished. Acts 9:13-18, "And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision... 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... Ananias went his way and entered into the house and putting his hands on him said Brother Saul: the Lord that appeared unto thee... has sent me that thou mightest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." The question here is: did Ananias carry out his instructions? Did he impart unto Saul both Saul's physical sight and the Holy Spirit? Ananias emphatically declares that Jesus sent him to accomplish this work. Did he do more or less than Christ authorized him to do? What do you think?

Your attention is called to some quotes from an article from the pen of Brother Robert H. Farrish in the Gospel Guardian of June 18th, '53, page 8, paragraph 11. Quote: "No instance can be found where any one other than an apostle possessed the power to impart these spiritual gifts. Ananias was not an apostle hence did not have such power. He did not lay his hands on Saul to impart some spiritual gift or to baptize Saul with the Spirit." Let's see what the record says. In Matt. 28, the resurrected Son of God says: "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Could He or did He delegate some of His power to Ananias? He told Ananias that Saul was His chosen vessel — hence Ananias was Christ's specially chosen envoy to consummate the work in this unique case. Neither did Christ "by-pass" His church, but chose one of His "earthen vessels" — man (2 Cor. 4:7) in which "this treasure" resided for this work. Since our brother's contention calls for no less personage than "an apostle" I think he can be appeased in this idea also. Since the word "apostle" comes from a Greek word, meaning — one sent — apostolos — we have in Ananias one called and sent by the King of Kings — a super — apostle if you please. Christ called him and sent him, and he says he did what Christ sent him to do. I believe he did — do you?

Quote — par. 3: "This being filled with the Holy Spirit was affected by Christ's baptizing them in the Holy Spirit." (Same article.) To the record: John 20:21-22, "Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you, as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you and when he had said this he breathed on them, and sayeth unto them receive ye the Holy Spirit." Did they receive the Holy Spirit? This gift took place on the first resurrection day, fifty days before they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. This gift gave them their authority, but their power came on Pentecost. Luke 24:49, "... tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you." This might be illustrated very aptly by our political elections: On a certain Tuesday in November the successful candidates receive their mandate (authority) from the electorate — yet they are not capable of exercising their authority for some seventy days, or until they take the oath of office — then they have both the authority and power to execute their official functions. Just so did the apostles of our Savior.

Paragraph 12 — Quote: "Saul's baptism was antecedent to his being filled with the Holy Spirit." This is an assumption without proof consequently will have to pass as opinion only. "Regardless of what is embraced in the clause — "filled with the Holy. Spirit" — whether it is the ordinary gift promised to all who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38) or the reception of power as an apostle of Christ (Acts 1:8), it must be preceded by obedience." (par. 12) This assertion, if true, makes void Acts 10:44-47. "While Peter yet spake these words the Holy Spirit fell on all them (plural number) which heard the word, and they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we ? and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Did these people receive the Holy Spirit before or after (water) baptism? I believe Luke knew what he was talking about and that he gave us a true account in both Acts, 9th and 10th chapters. Do you believe?

So far as the scriptures reveal there never was but two demonstrations of Holy Spirit baptism — first recorded in Acts 2; and Acts 10 — the second account of demonstration. The purpose of which was at least twofold — (1) was to fulfill Joel 2; "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." (Joel 2:28) On Pentecost only Jews were present — only a part of "all flesh" — Acts 10 — the other part of "all flesh" — Gentiles — received the baptism of the Holy Spirit — thus was Joel now fully completed. Jew and Gentile constituted the "all flesh" that the Spirit through Joel spoke of. (2) The reception of the Spirit by Cornelius — Gentiles there present — had at least two and perhaps a triple significance — viz.--completed Joel's prophecy, convinced Peter and his Jewish brethren that the Gentiles were included in God's promises. (3) And enabled them — the Gentiles — to be God's witnesses, for Peter says that it (baptism of Holy Spirit) was "the like gift as he did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 11:17 (Common version and RSV) says: "If God gave the same gift to them as he gave unto us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"

It could scarcely be said to be the "like gift" or "the same gift" if the Gentiles who received Holy Spirit baptism were inferior in any way, or who had less responsibilities, than the Jews. Jesus said that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would enable the apostles to be "witnesses unto me," Acts 1:8, and since it was a "like gift" or "the same gift" we have scriptural reasons to legitimately infer that it carried the same obligations, responsibilities, and privileges to the Gentiles as to the Jews.

It is obvious to all Bible students that the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit was never given to any one for that one's personal aggrandizement, but if and when given, it was given to guide the early Christians in their work and worship. Since there was no written instructions (as we have in the N.T.) this treasure of God resided in "earthen vessels" — Spirit guided men. 2 Cor. 4:7, "It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will." (Heb. 2:3-4)

That Jesus Christ did honor and work through His church goes without saying. The original twelve apostles could not be present everywhere at the same time, also goes without saying. Then for any one to say: "That the apostles had to be present to bestow the miraculous gifts" etc is mere assumption lacking proof. Ananias was qualified to do the work that Jesus sent him to do, otherwise he would never have been sent. Jesus used his qualified servant Ananias.

If God had no need for other qualified servants, why did He go to the trouble to qualify Cornelius and the others of his (Cornelius') household? He gave them the "like gift" or the "same gift" that enabled them to do the same things that Peter did — Peter himself being witness.