“Performing deeds in keeping with their repentance”
Every time we read Paul’s speeches in defending himself after his arrest, we are moved by his total conviction of mind and commitment. What a transformed man he was after his intensely dramatic encounter with the risen Christ outside Damascus.
He has turned himself right around! We can say that in turning right around he is now facing wondrous light – instead of total darkness. How blind he had been to that light! How great the blindness today!
What an example to us! How much were we conscious of the darkness before we were baptised? Have we really turned ourselves right around since then? How many have ‘resisted’ baptism, not because they have no sense as to what is the true meaning of life, but because their faith is not ‘real’ enough.
The spiritual darkness in the world is now nearly total – how much is this affecting us? We are surrounded by those who do not believe in God – although there are some who have ‘watered down’ thoughts that there is some kind of God – but he is not at all ‘real’ to them. We are not ‘judging’ but simply making an observation; trying to make sure we are not influenced by their attitudes.
Let us carefully focus on the example of Paul. We read today a remarkably detailed account of the climax of his preaching, We notice the use of the word “we” – for example,
“When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly” (21:7);
this indicates that Luke, the writer of Acts, was with him, his gospel was “the first book” referred to in Acts 1:1. “Luke” was with him as “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11). But, as with John in his gospel, he does not mention himself.
Returning to Acts and Paul’s defence before king Agrippa, we read how Paul describes his ‘vision’ outside Damascus and declares,
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then (in many other places)… that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (26:19,20).
Our minds must pick up a key point here! It is wonderful to believe and repent and be baptised as Paul was in Damascus – but then Paul sets us the example of fully committed service to his Lord. How great had been his forgiveness!
We must remember that Jesus said,
“he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
What is our sense after seeing the “light of the world” and of being forgiven so that we no longer walk in darkness? Recall the teaching of Jesus, “he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). Let us ponder the question, How well are we
“performing deeds in keeping with (our) repentance”?