"What Shall I do?"
'...And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:16) These words were spoken by a man directed by God to go speak to a fellow named Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a believer in God and was a very dedicated, devout, enthusiastic believer. Saul was highly educated in religion, and pretty high up the food chain in the eyes of the high priest and the Council. He had devoted his life to serving God and probably had more zeal than any of us could muster. He traveled all over arresting people who professed a certain belief contrary to what he believed. Only thing is, Saul had it all wrong. He was persecuting Jesus Christ and His church and doing it in the name of God.
So Jesus struck him blind with a "bright light from heaven" as he walked down a dusty road. Saul fell to the ground and Jesus spoke to him. Jesus told Saul in no uncertain terms that he was persecuting Him. Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" Just in case there was any question, Jesus replied, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ (vs 8)
Saul, acutely aware that he was 'NOT OK' with Jesus, asks, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ (vs 10)
Jesus could have told him right then and there what to do, but he didn't. He didn't tell Saul to repent, he didn't tell Saul to ask for forgiveness, he didn't tell him to pray some prayer. He didn't give Saul the answer then and there. Instead, he told him to go into a nearby city, and said "there you will be told what you must do". There was something Saul had to "do". He already believed in God, and obviously at this point, in Jesus as well. Was Saul in a saved condition in that moment? Saul knew he had been in the wrong, and asked what he must do, and Jesus had yet to answer that question.
God sent a man named Ananias to talk to Saul. Ananias, by the way, didn't want to go, given Saul's reputation, but he did. Saul had been blind for 3 days. We know during those days, he had been praying, and God had sent him at least one vision. When Ananias spoke to Saul, he told him that Jesus who had met him on the road had sent him. He restored Saul's sight. We know Saul was told he had been chosen, and that he would share his story with others. We don't know much else about the conversation, but we do know one thing for sure, during that conversation Ananias looks at Saul and says, '...And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ (vs 16) The man still had his sins, and still needed to get rid of them and was told what to do to make that a reality.
Remember, Saul had asked Jesus on the road, "What shall I do, Lord?" Jesus sent that answer to Saul by Ananias, who told him to call upon the Lord by washing away his sins, in baptism. The same words were told to the crowd who had killed our Lord and Savior on the cross when they asked an almost identical question to 11 Apostles as they realized they were unsaved because of their sin, "Brothers, what shall we do?". They were told to do something too, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."... (Acts 2:38) By the way, those who obeyed those words of salvation from Peter and the other Apostles, those "who accepted his message [and] were baptized" those who the Lord "added to the church" were the same Christians Saul had been persecuting. (Acts 2:41 & 47)
Maybe today, you know you have never claimed Jesus for yourself, never accepted the grace that He offers freely, and the salvation He promises. If you are asking yourself today what you should do, the first step is to fix your sin problem, because God sent His one and only Son into this world to die for you and me, so that we would have a way to fix our sin problem. He was crucified and was buried, rising again to live. Jesus tells us to do the same, to be "crucified with Him" to our old life of sin, to be "buried with Him" in our baptism, and then just as God raised Jesus from an earthly grave to live again, we rise out of our watery grave, to "live a new life". We are told to be baptized "into Christ Jesus" baptized "into His death".
Here's exactly what Romans 6:3-7 says, "Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin." NIV
The above says we are "baptized into Christ Jesus". Gal 3:27 likewise is perfectly clear, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." It is only "In Christ" what we stand before God, uncondemned. (Rom 8:1, 2 Cor 5:17) Prior to that, we, like Saul, are still attached to our sins that God can't have in His presence. 1 Peter 3:21 tells us (not once but twice) that our burial in water is the changing point, "...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." It is here that the blood of Christ washes us clean of sin. Until then, we still are encumbered by our sins.
This Saul we've been talking about, later became the most well-known Apostle, Paul. As Saul, he was a vibrant persecutor of people of faith. As Paul, he led thousands to faith in the Lord Jesus. In fact, Paul is the author of Romans 6:3-7 we noted above, and a majority of the New Testament, and if anybody should understand what Jesus requires of us for the remission of sins, and for salvation, it's Paul!
God cannot co-exist with sin. God can't live where sin reigns. In order for God to save us, He has to fix the sin problem in us, that's why Jesus' cruel death as the sacrificial Lamb, taking our place, was necessary to satisfy God. That's why God required blood that had not been stained by sin to be given for the sins of us all. That's why it's necessary that we are covered by that very blood. (Rom 6:3 &4)
Today, where are you? Is there a chance you are like Saul, busy doing what you think is serving the Lord, but not having done what Jesus told Saul to do? Are you maybe in that position Saul was in for 3 days, uncertain, waiting for some direction. Maybe you are ready to do what scripture says, and "...wash your sins away, calling on his name", washing them away with "water [that] symbolizes baptism that now saves you..." (Acts 22:16) (1 Peter 3:21)
Scripture very plainly outlines what Jesus wants from us, not only in coming to Him but in living for Him after we do. We would be pleased to study with anyone who wants to understand more. Please call on us. 325-573-0154