Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)
Paul’s Three-Point Sermon
When Paul defended the charges against him before King Agrippa, he recounted his early life, conversion, and early work of preaching the gospel of Christ. Immediately upon his obedience to the will of the Father, Paul began to preach the risen Christ and Jesus the fulfillment of the prophecies. He began dismantling the Law of Moses as the covenant of God’s people, showing the church’s nature where all men would be saved. His message was a simple three-point plan when Paul preached first in Damascus and then Jerusalem, Judea, and to the Gentiles. Paul preached the gospel of Christ and demanded repentance, turning to God, and a willing heart to obey the commands of God.
The sermon Paul preached was not new but one as old as the earth. Jesus Christ was the focus of the preaching, but the message has always been the same that men need to change their lives, turn their hearts to the will of God and do what the Lord commands. This message contains grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, obedience, and salvation. Never before has an answer been found as great as the risen Son of God in the history of the human struggle. In the early days of the earth, Noah preached that all men must repent, turn to God, and keep His commandments. The Law of Moses was based on the same principles. When Israel refused to repent, turn to God, and obey the commands of the Lord, they were destroyed. Jonah went to the Gentiles and preached the same message. Jews and Gentiles were obligated to change their lives, seek the Lord and follow the will of God to be saved. Under the covenant of Christ, salvation is given to those willing to repent, turn to the Lord and keep His word.
Repentance has always been the first word of the gospel. The gospel before Christ was everything a man needed to know to be saved. In Christ, the gospel is found in the blood of Jesus Christ. Peter and the apostles preached the first gospel to the devout Jews of Jerusalem, beginning with repentance. No man can come to God who does not admit his sin, accept his failure and seek the grace of God. Skipping step one nullifies anything that comes after it. If a man turns to God and keeps the commandments of the Lord without repentance, he has not obeyed the plan of salvation. Repentance begins to empty of a man of self. Taking a cross in the name of Christ is the cost of serving the Son of God.
Turning to God is a life change, a life decision, and a life emptied. It is impossible to serve God and serve the mammon of the world. Without complete surrender to God, there can be no forgiveness. Friendship with the world must end when a man obeys the gospel. Paul preached throughout the Roman Empire a shocking message of devotion not to the pagan gods of men, but to the one true God. Idolatry has always been popular because it allows a man to worship his god and keep living a hedonistic lifestyle. Christianity is rejected because it requires singular devotion to one way, one truth, and one life. Modern religion has successfully mixed the spirit of religion with the carnality of the world attracting millions. You can accept Christ as your Savior today and live like you want the other six days without regard to authority. Turning to God requires all of a man’s soul to belong to the Lord.
After a man repents and turns to the Lord, he must obey the will of the Father. The greatest lie perpetrated on the world today is the doctrine that works do not save a man. Paul taught that salvation comes from those who do works befitting repentance. Why would the apostle Paul preach works if works will not save a man? Paul and the early disciples never preached that works alone would save a man any more than faith alone would save. The Bible never teaches salvation by faith alone. Paul preached salvation through the works a man will do who repents and turns to the Lord by the grace and mercy of God. Too many lost souls have their ticket punched for eternity and do nothing – believing it’s a free ride. Jesus’ death was not free, and while the measure of eternal life is the free gift of God, it will cost the disciple a life of works befitting his changed life. Those invited to the vineyard of the Lord must work in the vineyard. Faith without works is dead. Paul had three points in his sermon. The point of the sermon was to point the soul in the direction of the only hope a man has: repent, turn to God and do works befitting repentance. Are you willing?