To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…
Acts 26:18 (end).
Christ's own stress laid on faith in a personal object. And an inheritance among them that are sanctified, etc. The utterances of the ascended Savior to the man who was to be in a double sense the great first apostle of his religion to all the world cannot but be regarded by us as invested with the very fullest interest. The philosophy of religion is simple with Jesus; and he throws into clear prominence certain things, which may surely mark for us the prominence we should give them. Notice -
I. THE MANIFEST STRESS LAID ON FAITH IN THE PERSON CHRIST. "Faith, that which centers in me." So we may justly expound the words of Christ. Jesus speaks thus emphatically to protect against mysticism, defeat, deviation.
1. Faith in a living person can mean nothing short of general trust in him (unless particular qualification be expressed, e.g. faith in a person as a financier, etc.) and great trust in him, unless some qualification of measure be expressly stated, as is never done to Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ will include, therefore,
(1) trust in his teaching;
(2) trust in his example;
(3) trust in his loving, sympathetic guidance;
(4) trust in all that he says, in all that in his providence he does;
(5) trust in the worthiness of his service; as well as
(6) trust on the part of the soul's deepest demands for him, in his last "power to save."
2. The service or office of faith is here suggested. It is not remarked on here in its elevating influence on the individual character, and in its present points of superiority over sight for such a nature as ours. But it is instanced in its function as the link of connection, real, vital connection, between Christ and any man. It has, in itself, elevating as are the conception and the gradual training inherent in it, no sufficient, no sovereign, certainly no saving, efficacy. It is nothing that is to be depended upon, of and in itself. But it leads to One, unites to One, keeps an open communication with One, and clings mightily to the end unto One, who is to be depended on, with all the heart, and mind, and strength, and soul.
3. The great calm, peace, divinest content and foretaste of heaven's own happiness that are commanded by real trust should always be credited to faith in Christ. If these fail and when they fail, it is not that faith fails of its office, or that Christ fails of his goodness, but that men sever this golden link awhile, or let this golden conduit pitifully leak awhile.
II. THE PLACE GIVEN TO FAITH IN THE PERSONAL CHRIST IN RELATION TO SANCTIFICATION. It appears from this pronouncement of Jesus that "faith that is in him" is responsible for our sanctification. There is no limitation to the statement that sanctification depends on faith in Jesus.
1. It rises out of that faith or trust already spoken of. Without the real and living connection with Christ, there would be no entrance possible to the knowledge and the privileges which come with him.
2. It is fed the whole way along by the truth, the example, the guidance, the sympathizing love, of Jesus.
3. It avails to take away that surest foe of all to sanctification, trust in self, at one stroke, but a stroke that must be felt life's length.
4. Up to the very last, it is that simplest, purest, most depending trust of the soul on Jesus when it faces "the valley," and "the river," and "the shadow," and "the unknown," which completes, so far as we can trace it at all, the sanctification of man. If at that last moment the bond of faith should break, alas! all would break. But in that last moment, what reason we have to think that there is One who makes its strength equal to all the strain which by any possibility could be put upon it!
III. THE PLACE BELONGING TO FAITH IN THE PERSONAL CHRIST AS THE WAY TO "THE INHERITANCE." "The inheritance," it distinctly appears, is that of a prepared place for a prepared people. The preparation is one; it is that of sanctification attained by faith only. The way to "the inheritance," therefore, cannot be found, except by the paths of faith, the "faith that is in Christ." And the review of the whole would teach us that it were well-nigh impossible to summarize more forcibly and briefly in one the offices of "faith that is in Christ." His own is the emphasis here given to it. And he shows that it runs like a golden cord through the whole work of redemption. - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
WEB: to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'