Heavenly Vision: Have You Put Your Candle Out? No. 1

Acts 26:13  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The writer awoke one morning about 2.30 a.m., feeling the sentence of death upon him in a very remarkable way. With great difficulty he arose and lit his candle. He lay down again, and thought surely he was about to depart. After a time he became fully conscious that it was God speaking to him, and that the felt sentence of death on him was for some purpose. Suddenly the glory of the heavenly vision in Acts 26 burst upon him. As he lay, the brightness of that glory became so great, and the reality of that light surpassing all created light, that he looked at his candle, and said, I am ashamed of you. There is no need of you in such a scene of light: so he got up and put his candle out. There was no need of manufactured or created light.
He would now pen down a few of the thoughts given on that remarkable morning.
It was at midday a light was seen above the brightness of the sun. How bright that light. Yes, brighter than the brightest created light in midday splendor.
Who was the man that saw this light? Saul, the mad persecutor, the greatest Pharisee and the greatest hater of Christ on earth. There is no hatred against Him like religious hatred. Saul thought he was doing God service; but his heart was filled with enmity against the disciples of Jesus. He says, " I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me." Several things were common to them all. They all saw a light; they all fell to the ground; they heard a voice; they heard a voice and they did not hear. Compare this with Acts 9; 22 But only one could say," I heard a voice speaking unto me." Well might Saul exclaim, " Who art thou, LordAnd never was surprise greater than when he heard that reply, " I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." When the brethren of Joseph heard the words, " I am Joseph," their surprise could not have been greater. The glory of Joseph fades away when compared with the glory of that light and that voice speaking from heaven.
Peter speaks of the majesty and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, " For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice, which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." (2 Pet. 1:17, 1817For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:17‑18).) That was a voice to Him. But now this voice is from Him; He speaks in the brightness of that glory that blinds the eye to all of earth. He does not say, I am God, or Christ, or the Lord; He was truly all these; but He says, " I am Jesus."
Let us mark this. A man speaks from the excellent glory; a man from heaven. It is He who was once a babe laid in a manger of the inn; Jesus, Immanuel, God with us; He who, at the age of twelve, sat amongst the doctors at Jerusalem. It is the Jesus of Bethany; the Jesus of Sychar’s well; the Jesus of Gethsemane; the Jesus who said to His loved disciples on the night of His betrayal to death, "Let not your hearts be troubled." It is that Jesus who was mocked, spit upon, smitten, scourged, rejected by men. Jesus, nailed to the tree, bearing our sins; made sin; forsaken of God whilst the dark billows of divine wrath due to us rolled over His soul. He who said, " Lo! I come to do thy will, Ο God;" that Jesus who said, " It is finished." The work which God gave Him to do was finished never to be repeated. It was that Jesus who was raised from the dead for our justification; that Jesus who ascended above all heavens. Yes, that " I AM Jesus," now speaks to a poor deceived Pharisee, chief of sinners, at midday, in brightness above all created light.
Hearken to those amazing words from the Jesus who speaks from this excellent glory. Once He had said, "I will build my assembly." He did not say, I will build a church or an assembly, but " my assembly." That was a wonderful new revelation. He has now built, He now has that which He calls " my assembly." Do you know that there is on earth, that which Jesus can call " my assembly "?
On the morn of His resurrection He said something further, " Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God." This was very wonderful—what never could have been said before that morning. Disciples were now brought into the same relation to the Father, and to God, that He the Son was in!
But now what He speaks from heaven is still more wonderful. He asks, " Why persecutest thou me?” I must let you know, Saul, there is not a saint on earth that you persecute but that saint is part of myself. Not now " mine " only, but even still nearer—"me" This was the great truth afterward more fully revealed to Paul, and through him to us in the Epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians. So far as we know, there have been only two men, as we say, converted by this great fact revealed direct from the glory; and these two were perhaps the greatest Pharisees that ever lived. The one at the beginning, and the other in these: last of the last days—at the end. We will look at the latter by-and-by.
Who then was this Saul? He was a most religious young man. He was doing what he thought was pleasing to God. He says, " If any other man thinketh that be hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.... an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee [that is, of the most religious sect of the Jewish religion]; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." (Phil. 3:4-64Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4‑6).) But when he heard the voice speaking unto him, he found he was the mad persecutor and the chief of sinners. What a change of mind! All that he had esteemed was now as dung, compared with the excellent glory of that One who spoke to Him.
Now mark that Saul's conversion was the effect of this, as he says," I heard a voice speaking unto me." Did that voice speak in wrath and terror to that stricken soul? No, He said, "Γ am Jesus," I am the Savior. He spake to him as Savior, not now as judge. The brightness of that light, yea, the glory of that light, made all darkness here below. He was like the queen of Sheba—there remained no spirit in him. He had no appetite for this world's food. He must go three days without light and food. He must henceforth find his all in resurrection. No! Jesus did not appear in judgment; He will by-and-by. But He says, as it were, I will take you Saul, my greatest enemy, and make you my brightest witness on this earth.
Speaking here, Paul does not tell the earthly side of his remarkable conversion: how Ananias was sent to him, and how he was bid to arise and tarry not, but be baptized, and wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Here in chapter xxvi. it is the heavenly side, solely the heavenly vision. There is an earthly side of conversion, and there is a heavenly side. On this earth, and before men, by his baptism he entirely changed sides. In the sight of men he thus washed away his sins, like the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost, being baptized in the name of that Lord he had hated and persecuted; and thus took his place amongst those he had formerly persecuted.
But on the heavenly side, sins are not washed away by the water of baptism; but by the blood of God's dear Son. Believing God, who raised Jesus up from the dead, who was delivered for our iniquities, and was raised from among the dead for our justification; by faith we are justified, and have peace with God. It is important to keep distinct the difference between the heavenly and the earthly aspect of forgiveness of sins. Let us in this scripture keep before us the heavenly. Before, however, we go on to the commission to Paul to minister what he had and should afterward receive, let us pause, and ask ourselves a few questions.
Paul says," I heard a voice speaking unto me" You may have sat for years under the preaching of the gospel, and heard, like others, a voice from heaven; for the gospel is from heaven. But can you say at such a time in such a place, " I heard a voice speaking unto me "? Though the voice was heard by all, and all felt in a general way; yea, all fell to the ground; you may also have felt a power under the word, and even fallen unto the ground, and yet be a stranger to Christ. Have you ever really heard a voice, the voice of Jesus speaking unto you? " Verily, verily, I say unto YOU, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." What, Jesus in the bright glory of that light speaks these words το me! Can I doubt them? Not if I can say, I heard Him speak to me—" a voice speaking unto me." Hearken to those words as from the excellent glory, spoken to you. Again He says, " Peace be unto you;" and shows you His hands and His side. Do you hear the voice speaking unto you from heaven? Oh, to have the ear open to hear every word of Jesus, as His voice speaking unto me. Well does the writer remember that voice speaking to him about fifty-three years ago; when having for months sought salvation by works and sought in vain, coming home as a boy one rainy night in a dark lane, his heart sank in despair, and he fell to the ground with his face in the mud, and cried, " Oh Lord, it is all over, I can do no more.' It was then he heard a voice speaking unto him, " It is finished." Yes, the work he tried to do, and could not, was all done. Jesus had done it all, long long ago. If you really can say, I heard His voice speaking to me, you will never doubt His word. No, you will say, I have heard the words of Jesus. I believe God that sent Him, and He says I have eternal life. He says I shall not come into judgment; He says I am passed from death unto life. I believe Him; He has made peace by His blood on the cross; that peace He gives to me; I believe Him. Oh, has He spoken to you? He spoke peace to me, but He did not speak to me as He did to Saul, of that wondrous mystery, " Why persecutest thou me?” But whether it be that wondrous mystery, or peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall never be able to really understand or enjoy either unless we can say, " I heard a voice from heaven speaking unto me." We will next look at the commission of the heavenly vision.