Performing deeds in keeping with
How inspiring are the words Paul addresses to King Agrippa! In Acts 26 we read his account of his life following his conversion, in effect Paul was turned right around, to become a follower of the true Messiah. What an example this is to the great majority today, who need turning right around, from following the ways of our godless world. Despite the trouble he is now in Paul is totally positive, and the question he puts to King Agrippa – “do you believe the prophets” – is also put to you and I! Paul did not wait for the king to answer, but immediately added,
“I know that you believe” (Acts 26:27).
The King does not deny this, but notice his response,
“In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (verse 28).
That is, to act on what you know to be true.
It is one thing to accept what the prophets wrote as being true and to acknowledge that their words came – and are coming – to pass: it is another for this to make a difference in our attitude toward God and “to become a Christian” (in the sense in which they were Christians in the first century). To become a follower of Christ one has to show this by attitudes and actions as well as by words. Paul testifies in his message
“to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (verse 20).
The major events in Israel of nearly 2,000 years ago are powerfully evidenced by history; not just in the Bible text – but in Roman history. Alongside this we can put our reading today in Deuteronomy 28. Moses sets out the blessings the nation will have if they truly serve God when they enter the promised land. The first generation did so – as the book of Joshua we are about read shows for us.
But the latter part of our Deuteronomy chapter details the curses that would come upon them for turning their back on God – ending with an awesome description which had its ultimate fulfilment in the Holocaust seventy years ago.
“The Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. Your life will hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread …” (verses 66,67).
Some try to deny the Holocaust but “this has not been done in a corner”, which was Paul declaration to King Agrippa (verse 26).
What position do we take? There is no neutral position! Jesus said,
“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
We believe! Wonderful – so are we “performing deeds in keeping with our repentance”? Our Lord knows whether that is the case – and we will realize he knows this when he returns; and how soon now?