Acts 26:20 – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Repent – to think differently; reconsider. That is the definition according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. In the older languages, well before the 11th and 12th centuries, repent and regret were not really differentiated; that is, they were very closely related. If one was regretful, one was considered repentant. If one was repentant, one was considered regretful. Still, at the root of the word repent is the core action of re-thinking. And when connected as it was in older language usage, to regret, it means to rethink with tears.
Now look once again at our Text for Today. Paul had received his instructions for ministry, his vision for the work to which God had called him. Here he states, in brief, what his message to the Gentiles entailed. It was that they should “turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” But please note three key words of the message he was to proclaim that preceded “turn to God.” Those words were “they should repent.” Examine that preaching command in light of our definition of the word repent. Have you heard the message of redemption? Is it your desire to follow Christ, to become a Christian? Well, dear friend, while the work of redemption has already been accomplished, and there is nothing you can do to earn that marvelous free gift, there are certain decisive actions you must take if you will enjoy the full range of life that is in it. And one of those decisive actions is repentance.
In the words of Paul, repentance precedes turning to God. Allow me to state it in this manner. Unless your mind is made up, unless you have made the determined decision to follow the Lord, you may speak of it, think about it, and even attempt to produce evidence of such a choice, but if you have not truly repented, turning to God will only be an unfilled dream. While repentance does indeed speak to the changing of one’s thinking, it is much deeper than intellect. Will and emotions are involved, as well. Repentance marks the true recognition that the path one has once walked, the manner of life one has previously pursued is wrong; more than wrong; dark and deceptive, hurtful and injurious, blind and deceptive. And the turning from such, when true repentance is involved, does indeed stir one’s emotions, brings one to deep, moving, and powerful decisions to make true changes in turning from that previous life. I know and fully accept that salvation is through faith in Christ, and faith is not established on feelings of any kind, but on the truth of God’s Word. However, we must acknowledge that salvation is for the whole man, spirit, soul, and body. To that end, I ask, in today’s salvation experience, where are the works of which Paul writes, that demonstrate the depth of the work of redemption that rises from true repentance? Just a thought.
Manna for Today – Acts 26:12-32; Mark 1:15 & 6:12; Luke 13:3-5; Acts 2:38 & 3:19; Revelation 2:5 & 16