Summary: In verse 18, Paul is telling what Jesus said about why He sent him to the Gentiles. He listed five goals that God has for people’s lives, and I submit to you that these goals have not changed, even to this day.
This text picks up in the middle of the Apostle Paul’s recounting of his conversion experience, as he talked to King Agrippa, who was the appointed king over Judea. Paul spoke very respectfully to this man, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to share his testimony. Back in Acts 9:15, Jesus had said that Paul would “...bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” One of the many things I’ve always appreciated about Billy Graham, is that he has been given an open door of opportunity before so many people in very important places, and he consistently presents a plain presentation of the gospel of salvation.
In verse 18, Paul is telling what Jesus said about why He sent him to the Gentiles. He listed five goals that God has for people’s lives, and I submit to you that these goals have not changed, even to this day.
1. To open their eyes. This is a statement about people’s understanding. There are some things people need to understand about God, about who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised.
2. To turn them from darkness to light. Darkness is consistently used in the Bible as a reference to sin, and light as a reference to righteousness. We have become the righteousness of God in Christ, but unless we understand that wonderful fact, we will miss many blessings that are connected with it.
3. To turn them from the power of Satan to God. God has goals for people’s lives, but so does Satan. Satan’s primary goal for an individual is steal the word of God from his life, to kill any potential ministry, and to destroy his peace, joy, and contentment. Satan hates mankind for two reasons: mankind has been created in the image of God, and he has been given dominion over the earth. Now, Satan’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, but as we are told in John 10:10, Jesus is “come that we might have life, and that more abundantly.” So, one of God’s goals is turn us from Satan’s power to God’s power.
4. That they receive the forgiveness of sins. The wages of sin is death, according to Romans 6:23, and when we receive God’s forgiveness, we are no longer attached to our sins. This truth is emphasized a number of ways in the Scriptures, and one of my favorites is Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” What I really want to emphasize is the word, “receive.” It is implied here, and more plainly taught elsewhere, that our sins have been forgiven, and all that is left is for us to receive what God has provided.
Jesus died for our sins 2,000 years ago, and He is not going to die again. What the Lord has done to provide for our forgiveness was done on the day of His crucifixion, but it was in the plan of God even before the foundation of the world. That’s why Revelation 13:8 calls Him the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The Holy Spirit works in our present time to convict, convince, and convert, but we do not have to beg Him to come and do those things, because those things are the will of God. The thing that is necessary on our part, is that we understand the gospel to the point that we can place our faith in Christ, and in so doing we “receive” the forgiveness of sins.
Now, this may sound strange to you, but it is not the particular sin of lying, murdering, committing adultery, or any other bad thing that you can think of, that will cause people to go to hell. It is the fact that they are sinners, and it is the failure to believe on Christ, thereby receiving the forgiveness of sins. When the Holy Spirit moves into a person’s life, that person will begin to become painfully aware of sinful things in his life. I say begin to become aware, because it is progressive. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of the Lord Jesus.” This means that there is a progressive work of God going on in your life. It progresses as your understanding of the word of God increases, causing you to experience spiritual growth in your life.
5. That they might receive an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. Again, there’s that word, “receive,” and this time it is referring to an inheritance. It is an inheritance of eternal life, which ultimately results in our going to heaven, but it has some wonderful “here and now” benefits as well. For one thing, you get security in this inheritance. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Your spirit has been birthed by God’s Spirit, and your spirit is as redeemed as it will ever be; but, your soul, that is your mind, will, and emotions are in the process of experiencing the completeness of redemption, as you experience spiritual growth. Your body will not experience the completeness of redemption until the resurrection. But, bless God, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit until it all takes place.