“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
WHEN ANANIAS FOUND SAUL OF TARSUS, THE NOTORIOUS PERSECUTOR OF THE CHURCH, SAUL HAD BEEN FASTING AND PRAYING SORROWFULLY FOR THREE DAYS. “And now why do you wait?” Ananias asked. “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Saul did as he was instructed, received the forgiveness of his sins, and served Jesus Christ fervently for the rest of his life. We know him today as the apostle Paul.
“Why do you wait?” is a question that touches the conscience of us all. And it’s a question that is exceedingly hard to answer. Even searching our hearts deeply, we don’t always have the honesty to admit why we delay doing what we know we ought to do.
One thing, however, is certain: there is no good reason to wait. Once we see what we must do to be reconciled to God, waiting only worsens our problem. As Corrie ten Boom said, “An unrepented sin is a continued sin.” Whatever the reason, it is never worth the loss of our souls. Nothing is worth that. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
In the New Testament, as soon as people saw the seriousness of their sins and the joy of forgiveness that could be theirs in Christ, they wanted to be baptized immediately. In Acts 16:25-34, there is even the story of a group of people being baptized in the middle of the night. Waiting was not something they wanted to do.
Hindrances to the gospel come in many shapes and sizes. The world is full of obstacles, and some of them are fearful. God knows about all of these. He knows how hard it can be for us. But there is no hindrance He won’t help us overcome, if we’re willing.
So as we come to the end of our meditations on obeying the gospel, there is nothing left but the question of choice. What will we do — each of us — with the gospel? God has given His Son to save us from our sins, but He will not compel us. If we reject what our Father has done, we will have made the decision to be lost. So may we not wait. May we do exactly what Saul of Tarsus did: obey.
“He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” (Augustine of Hippo).