But rise, and stand on your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose…
I. A WORK WROUGHT BY GOD UPON THE MINISTER.
1. Subjugation. While a man is a rebel, the Lord does not appoint him an ambassador; while he is dead in sin, a preacher of the way of life. Paul was struck down; for if he had not fallen, he would not have known how to lift others up. He remained blind for three days; otherwise he would not have been qualified to deal with others in darkness. See what God does in His ministers to fit them for your conversion. In order to slay your sins the shaft has been polished. Each of the best locks made by our eminent locksmiths is unique, and each needs its own special key: so God fits certain men for reaching certain men.
2. Encouragement. "Rise, and stand upon thy feet." Men can hardly be very useful till they cease to be despondent, and become energetic and hopeful. I have noticed that those who do not believe that they will be successful seldom are so; but those who rise and stand upon their feet, and manfully expect that God will bless them, are not disappointed.
3. Ordination. And to this end he must see the Lord for himself. Our Lord's appearing —
(1) Makes him willing to be a servant, for that is the meaning of the word "minister." When the renewed mind beholds the Lord, it cries out, "What wilt Thou have me to do?"(2) Qualifies him to act as a witness. We cannot bear witness to that which we have never seen. Hearsay is of small value. Heads are won by reasoning, but hearts are won by witness bearing.
4. Continuous instruction. He is to be a witness not only of those things which he has seen, but also of those things in the which the Lord will yet appear unto him.
5. Constant preservation. "Delivering thee from the people," etc. Paul's life was always in danger, and yet never in real peril, for the Lord was his keeper. So shall every true servant of Christ be kept as with a garrison from all evil.
II. THE WORK WROUGHT IN THE HEARER.
1. Illumination: the Lord sends His servant "to open their eyes." Men are born blind, and continue blind till, by the power of Jesus, sight is given to them. Your education and surroundings have perhaps placed a film of prejudice over your eyes; if a candid, childlike spirit were given you, you would see. Or possibly some favourite sin is like a cataract upon the eye of your conscience, and you cannot see the evil of sin or the beauty of holiness. Or it may be that unbelief darkens your soul.
2. Conversion: "to turn them from darkness to light." What a blessed turning is that which makes us face truth, and goodness, and God, and heaven; and leave ignorance, sin, and hell behind.
3. Translation. As the soul is brought into a new element, so is it also brought under a new government. "From the power of Satan unto God." Somebody says, "I do not understand how this can be performed in a minute." Well, two men are fighting, and we beg them to leave off. Do you recommend them to leave off gradually? If anybody held a pistol at my head, I should not say, "Take it away by degrees." Changes of mind such as are necessary to conversion had need be quick when sin is to be forsaken, for every moment deepens the guilt. It may seem a very gradual process by which a man who was dead comes to life; but for certain there is a point at which he left the dead and became alive, and that point God sees very clearly, even though we do not.
4. Complete forgiveness. The same moment that we receive Christ, we "receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified." What a blessing to become an heir of God! To what choice company is a sinner introduced when he believes in Jesus! He is a freeholder among the burgesses of the New Jerusalem.
5. And all this has for its certificate and mark of genuineness these words — "By faith that is in Me." The whole process of salvation is by faith.
III. A WORK WHICH MUST BE DONE BY THE HEARER HIMSELF. This text speaks of Paul being an instrument in the hands of God of opening men's eyes, etc., and they seem to be passive; but now they are called upon to be active. We are created thinking, intelligent beings, and we are saved as such. Never let us forget either the free agency of man or the purposes of God. Grace reigns not over slaves, but over obedient children.
1. You must repent. It is not the work of God the Holy Ghost to repent for you, but to lead you to repent.
2. You must turn to God. Your prayer may be, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned"; but the command is, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?" God will turn you, but you have willingly to yield, and thus turn yourself.
3. You must do works meet for repentance; for wherever there is true faith there will be corresponding works, such as these: restitution if you have wronged anyone, reconciliation if you are at enmity with anyone, acknowledgment if you have spoken falsely, giving up of evil habits, and an earnest endeavour to be pure and holy.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
WEB: But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;