Paul summarises his commission from Jesus in this way: ‘I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:17-18) This could be said to be a summary of the gospel.
Before we know God, it’s as though our eyes are closed; blindness is often used to describe our natural state (see John 9; 2 Cor 4:4). God’s light shines in our hearts and opens our eyes; Paul describes this to the Colossians as ‘he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ (Col 1:13-14) Not only are redemption and the forgiveness of sins often linked (see also Eph 1:7) but Paul stresses that even the Gentiles have a place in God’s family through faith. We are all welcomed into God’s family through faith.
John Stott comments that, ‘conversion includes a radical transfer of allegiance and satanic rule and a liberation into the sphere of God’s marvellous light and power.’ (‘Acts’) Paul outlines this further in Ephesians 2:1-9, and it is important for all of us to understand the radical nature of conversion. Paul’s own behaviour shows us what this looks like. Does ours?