A TIME OF TURNING
In Acts chapter 25 we find the Apostle Paul standing before King Agrippa. In Caesarea, charges had been brought against Paul and he was willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried. He stated his case before Agrippa, saying, “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision. He referred there to his Damascus Road experience and the vision brought to him there. He said that he continued preaching the same message wherever he went – to Damascus, to Jerusalem, throughout the region of Judea – and even to the Gentiles. He preached that they should repent and turn to God. His preaching was the trigger that caused the Jews to seize him and attempt to put him to death.
We can summarize Paul’s message as he preached. He preached repentance, which in simple terms means “to change one’s mind.” After hearing the Word of God taught one should realize that the kind of life we are living is wayward and that we must take on a brand new set of values. That realization brings on a conviction of our sins, deep sorrow for our sins, and leads to our confession of those sins.
Repenting involves two things. It results in sorrow for what we have been in our lives. This sorrow must come prior to our repentance. Then we must have resolve – that is, a determination that we will accept change and be changed. Blessing from Christ is impossible without true repentance. It involves a change of masters, a change of life.
Repentance is a turning from sin and a turning to God. Paul, in his preaching for which he was charged, called on men to turn to God. He pleaded with them to turn themselves around, then turn again and be converted. Conversion is a voluntary action in response to the presentation of the Gospel – the Truth. It is the reversal of the old life, the old character, and the old principles by which we have lived.
In our turning we let God. We let Him become the God who is everything to us. We begin living our lives with pleasing Him as our first and highest priority.
A minister had spoken several times to a man concerning the condition of his soul. The man finally told the minister, “It is useless. You cannot get me to change my religion.” The minister then said to him, “I don’t want to change your religion, I want your religion to change you.”
This change leads to the third part of the Gospel message. That is, that Paul then called upon them to do the deeds to match their repentance. This becomes the proof of our repentance and turning to God. When we come to a repentant life we move into a behavior that is the natural fruit of true repentance. These deeds are not a reaction to a life governed by a new list of laws. They are the result of new love. A changed person knows God’s love in Christ. When he sins, he breaks God’s law, but it is more important to know that he also breaks God’s heart.
“None more firmly rejected works, before or after conversion, as a ground of salvation; none more firmly demanded good works as a consequence of salvation.”
--- G. N. Lang n “The Gospel of the Kingdom
It is, of necessity, to practice a holy life.
Why is this message of repentance, turning to God, and doing deeds, so important? Look at Acts 17:30-31. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
What he is saying there is that a day is appointed when God will judge the world by that One – Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead. How do we measure up to this One – Jesus, by whom He will judge us? Have we truly repented of all our sins? Have we reserved some of them, still engaging in them? Are we turned full-face toward God at all times, or just during times of special need? Have we performed the deeds that are the natural result of our repentance and turning to God?
That Day of Judgment will come one day. Maybe very soon for you. Some of us may be alive when Jesus returns to this earth to separate His people from Satan’s followers. Some of us won’t be alive at His coming. It is imperative that we are ready when that Day of Judgment comes.
Acts 10:42 says: “Jesus Christ is the Judge of the living and the dead.” So, whether we are alive or dead, our judgment will depend upon how we measure up to Christ as the Guide.
It is time – now – to turn to our God and Father for salvation.
Gary K. Fair Wednesday Word Princeton Christian Church
15 September 2021