Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim

Three Steps to Salvation
Open, Turn, Receive
Acts 26:14-19 Focus on v 18

NKJ 
14"And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15"So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faithin Me.' 19"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, NKJ 
NAS 
14 "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 
15 "And I said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 'But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' 19 "Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove. disobedient to the heavenly vision, NAS 

Introduction
Christ made the method of salvation simple. Men have confused it, added to it and taken away but Christ made it simple.

In the Faith Evangelism Strategy we are told we are to turn away from sin and self and toward the Lord Jesus. As I was studying this week trying to fit some scriptures into a sermon idea I had I found this scripture which tells the simple way of salvation.

This verse speaks of salvation as an opening, turning, and receiving. Please follow in your Bible as I explain further this particular text.
 
 
 
 

1.    The First Step to Salvation Is An: Opening of the Eyes. v 18 a
                                           'to open their eyes, in order. . . "
Introduction
What does the phrase to open their eyes imply? It implies the eyes are closed. Do you understand we have physical eyes and spiritual eyes.

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
 

A.    The . . Proclamation To Open Their Eyes. v 18 a
                   'to open their eyes, . . . "

Illustration
In Mountain View the church building has a great location. It is so good Wal-Mart, Sonic, McDonalds, Pizza Inn and Blimpys located across the street from us.

But do you think everybody knew where our church was located?

Many time people would say well where is the church located and even after I told them they did not have the church in their recollection memory.

I have tried to think though that by asking my self if I had noticed all the taverns and bars ln town. My eyes are tuned to look at church buildings not taverns.

Some people are not tuned to look for places that represent the spiritual. Their eyes need to be opened.

Humor
A little boy was working with his dog and her new pups. A minister came by and jokingly said "what church do you think those pups will attend." The little boy said "oh they will attend your church." A week latter the minister came by again and said "I will be expecting to see those pups in church soon". The little boy said oh no these pups are Baptist pups". The minister said "last week they were going to attend my church what happened". The boy said they have their eyes open now."
 

B.    The . . Purpose Of Opening Their Eyes. v 18 a
           'to open their eyes, in order to turn themfrom darkness . . . "

Illustration
As Tom Conboy and I were going out of visitation Thursday Night Tom started talking about how the Lord changed him. He said the Lord really opened my eyes about abortion. Then he said the Lord really opened my eyes about Creation as opposed to evolution. Then he said the Lord opened my eyes about a lot of things.

Application

Mules in the old mines, 7th day in the light

Let me ask you about your eyes this morning; are they open to spiritual matters and places.
 
 

2.    The Second Step to Salvation: Is A Turning. v 18 b


        to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, . . . "

A.    Note the . . Pigment Change In Turning
           ". . . turn them from darkness to light, . . . "

        1.    Darkness Represents Satan and Sin in the Bible.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

        a.    Paul's Ministry includes turning people away from darkness.

1 Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Illustration
When I was about 15 years of age the group of young boys I was with had walked several miles basically doing nothing. After this time of walking we came to an area of St. Louis near Manchester Road and Hampton Avenue. I say near there because we were walking down on top of the concrete covering River Depere.

To those of you not aware of what River Depree is; it is the underground sewage system in St. Louis. Some of the boys in this group thought it was real fun to walk in this sewage system. I had always refused to take this walk. I was called chicken etc. but it never really bothered me

On this day for some reason I agreed to go walking through the sewers. We walked for what seemed like hours and it was pitch black in those sewers. Ever once in a while you slipped and fell and everybody laughed at you and reminded you what you had probably fallen in. We were reminded don't wipe your eyes and then some one would say don't lick your fingers.

We tried several time to get out with out having to walk all the way back to where we started. I wanted out and I said the next ladder up to the street I am getting out one way or another. I tried my best to kick the sewer lid off but I could not and it was decided to go to the next ladder. We finally got out. It was the darkest, dingiest, filthiest, smellingest place I have ever been in and I wanted out. I led the way to get out of that place.
 

B.    Note the . . Power Change In Turning
        ". . . and from the power of Satan to God, . . . "

        1.    Paul's Ministry includes turning people away from the power of Satan.

Illustration
Some people know about Satan's power but are skeptical of God's Power. I witnessed to a Young Adult one time who wanted to argue with me that Satan was more powerful than God. I asked him he knew that Satan was a created being and God was the Creator He said "yes, but Satan has a lot of power."

I did not really get any where with him with my clever reasoning. I noticed he had a Bible on the coffee table and I ask if I could read to him from it. Her said "yes" I then started going down page after page that spoke of Jesus casting out demons.

The man became very erratic and asked me not to read to him about that. I keep up until he got a knife that was on the table and raised his voice saying stop reading about that," But he knew the Bible teaches God is more powerful than Satan.

A Christian can be called many things but included can be they are persons who have turned away from the power of Satan.

Application

Salvation is a turning away from the darkness of sin to the light of salvation. Light is much preferred to darkness.

Salvation is a turning away from the power of Satan to the Power of God it really is not a contest.
 
 

3.    The Third Step to Salvation: Is Receiving. v 18 c


            ". . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."
 

A.     Receive the . . Fact of Forgiveness. v 18 c
           ". . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . ."

        1.    Some think they have sinned too much.
        2.    The Blood of Jesus cover all kinds of sin

B.    Receive the . . Funding of Forgiveness. v 18 c
           ". . . and an inheritance . . . "

        1.    Can you imagine getting forgiveness and an inheritance?

Illustration Possessive Pronouns
The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns says Martin Luther. It is one thing to say, Christ is a Saviour; it is quite another thing to say, He is my Saviour and my Lord. The devil can say the first; the true Christian alone can say the second.    Resource, July/August, 1990

C.    Receive the . . Fellowship of Forgiveness. v 18 c
           ". . . among those who are sanctified by faithin Me."

        1.    We are going to be with all the saints of history.
        2.    Consider the contrast of heaven and hell.

Illustration Forgiveness, <>: Forgiveness
One of the Queen's soldiers had broken every law of the army and every form of punishment had been exhausted upon him. He had sinned once again and the officer in charge knew not what to do with him, and called in a brother officer and explained to him the situation, saying that he was at his wit's end; What could he do? Said he, "I have tried everything and failed." Then said his brother officer, "Suppose you try forgiveness," and they called the poor trembling soldier in and asked him if he had anything to say, any excuse for his conduct; to which he replied, "Nothing, except that I am very sorry." "Well," said the officer of the day, "we have made up our minds to forgive you."

The offending soldier looked at him but for a moment, then burst into tears, saluted and walked out of his presence, never again to be the weak soldier of the past, but to be one of the best soldiers her majesty, the Queen, ever had.

Thus our Father meets us, and though we have sinned ten thousand times, broken his law again and again, he meets us, not with punishment, but with the pledge of forgiveness.

May his Spirit today win our hearts and bend our stubborn wills to his. -- J. W. C.
 

Conclusion Pardon Not Accepted

An item in the May 2, 1985, Kansas City Times reminds us of a story you may be able to use in an evangelistic message. The item had to do with the attempt by some fans of O. Henry, the short-story writer, to get a pardon for their hero, who was convicted in 1898 of embezzling $784.08 from the bank where he was employed.

But you cannot give a pardon to a dead man. A pardon can only be given to someone who can accept it.

Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the United States Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. A pardon is a slip of paper wrote Marshall, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged. For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. Prokope, Vol. 11, #5