Demonstrate Repentance by Deeds

Summary Acts 24:1-26:11 ESV

The Apostle Paul was under arrest. He was being accused falsely before Governor Felix. He was accused of being a plague, “one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” and of being one who attempted to profane the temple.

Paul came to his own defense. He refuted the charges, but he stated that, according to the Way, which they called a sect, he worshipped the God of their fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets. So, he said, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”

When he was brought before Felix another time, he reasoned with the governor about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, but Felix sent him away, yet he sent for him often and conversed with him. Then, after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Festus. But Felix left Paul in prison, as a favor to the Jews.

Soon Paul stood before Festus. Many of the Jews from Jerusalem brought many and serious charges against Paul that they could not prove. Paul spoke again in his own defense. Festus tried to encourage Paul to go to Jerusalem to be tried. Again, Paul claimed his innocence, and then he appealed to Caesar. So, Festus agreed to send him to Caesar.

Then, King Agrippa arrived in town. Festus explained Paul’s case to him, and then Agrippa said that he would like to hear Paul himself. So, the next day Paul stood before King Agrippa. And the king gave Paul permission to speak for himself. So, Paul made his defense to the king.

Paul then took the opportunity to share his testimony with the king. He told him of his life as a Pharisee, and how he had opposed the name of Jesus, and how he had persecuted the saints of God, who were Jesus’ followers. And then he said…

Acts 26:12-18 ESV

“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

I happen to love this passage of Scripture, not only for Paul’s account of his conversion, but of his calling, which is not only to preach the gospel, but which is the gospel. For, the message of the gospel is not only what Jesus did for us on that cross, but it is what takes place in our hearts and lives when we believe him for salvation (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).

We, whose eyes were blinded to the truth of the gospel, now have our eyes opened to the truth. And, of the Spirit of God, we are turned from darkness (wickedness, evil, sin) to light (truth, righteousness, Jesus). And we are turned from the power and control of Satan and sin over our lives to God, to now come under God’s control (under his ownership).

And this must take place for us to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. For, this is what faith in Jesus entails. By faith in Jesus it involves our cooperation with the Spirit of God in repenting of sin, in yielding control of our lives over to God, and in now living to Christ in obedience to our Lord.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:31-32, 51; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Acts 26:18; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 1 Co 15:2; 2 Co 5:10, 15, 21; Gal 5:16-24; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Heb 3:6, 14-15; Heb 10:26-31; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 2:24-25; 1 Jn 5:3]

Acts 26:19-23 ESV

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

And here is proof that obedience is essential to the Christian life. For, if Paul and the other apostles had not been obedient to the Lord, the gospel message would not have been spread to people far and wide, and the New Testament books (most of them) would never have been written.

For, we aren’t saved from our sins merely so that we can escape hell, have our sins forgiven, and so we can go to heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15, 21).

And what did Paul say that he preached? “I preached that they should REPENT and TURN TO GOD and DEMONSTRATE their REPENTANCE by their DEEDS.” Ac 26:20 NIV

Wow! That knocks the cheap grace gospel out of the water right there! For so many people use Paul’s writings as their support for the cheap grace gospel, but then it is because they don’t read all of his writings or they wouldn’t be able to support the theory of their cheap grace.

For, so many people today are teaching that God requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord for their salvation from sin and for eternal life with God. If they aren’t saying it outright, they are implying it by how they dilute the truth to make it more acceptable.

And the reason Paul was being persecuted is because he told them that they should repent, turn to God, and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. And that is the same exact reason we who are teaching the truth are being persecuted today! Because we are saying, “Repent, turn to God, and show your repentance by your deeds.”

Or, another way of putting it is, “forsake your lives of sin, surrender your lives to Jesus Christ, submit to him as Lord (owner-master), and follow him in obedience to his commands” (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).

But, as God was Paul’s helper, he will be our helper, too, especially if we are speaking his truth so that people will be saved from their sins and have eternal life with God.

Jesus, Be Near to Me

Words and music by Tommy Walker

Jesus, be near to me
Let me know You are here
How I need You, how I need You
To reveal Yourself to me

Through Your unchanging truth
Through the breath of Your Spirit
In my questions and pain
Whisper words of Your love
Always the same…

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