"As [Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. . . . And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Please see Acts 9:3-5.)
The intimation of kicking against the pricks embraces quite possibly the idea that even at this point Paul had already received some pricks of conscience that suggested to him that there was more involved by way of goodness and truth in this group that he was persecuting.In verse 6, we continue: "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will 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."
The Savior's response is profoundly significant in understanding the message of the New Testament. You're aware of what takes place in the city. A man by the name of Ananias, who is the equivalent of a mission president or the bishop or the branch president, who is the man who has the commission to teach the gospel there, is the man from whom Saul will receive the gospel. The Lord has called and ordained someone to teach in that area. Do you see the profound importance of that, because the application of that becomes remarkably relevant in our own day. When the Lord has ordained His channels, He honors those channels. All claims to the contrary have to be by definition just fallacious. They are false.
In continuing, there is one story that I want to call your attention to. It's in the 16th chapter of Acts, verses 16-18. It's the story of a young slave girl that gets up in those meetings and becomes quite vocal. (vs. 16.) This young lady by the power of the devil of which she is possessed is a fortune teller.
Verse 17 reads, "The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation."
Think of what's taking place. You've got a struggling little branch of the Church here. If we give credence to what she says it will close every Jewish door in the community. Every good Jew knows that it's a violation of the Law of Moses if you seek direction from a soothsayer.
And if we admit the testimony of the fortune teller, we will, in effect, have said to the Gentile community, "Well, the way we receive truth is all the same. What's acceptable to you is acceptable to us." Then the Gentiles say, "Well, it's not so much what you believe but how you believe. There's nothing particularly distinctive about your theology that would require us to embrace it."
As to the members of the Church at the time, if they gave credence to the testimony of the young woman, the time would come when they would turn to her for counsel and advice. Do you see how clever, how subtle the adversary is? It's not enough to find evidence the Church is true. The channel has to be pure.