Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
We looked at this passage yesterday and want to continue with it today. We looked at the fact that Biblical repentance is a turning to God, not just in the mind but with the heart, soul, and mind. It is a complete turning to God. It is a life changing turning that is enabled by God.
Having said that, it must be stated that I am not a Calvinist and believe Calvinism is heresy. The Calvinist claims that man is incapable of repenting until he is saved. That is heresy. God works in every lost sinner’s heart. The few who listen to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit are drawn to God in repentance. All people have that opportunity.
We looked at Zacchaeus. He turned to Jesus. He listened to the invitation Jesus gave him and he came down from that tree and went to his house with Jesus. He immediately understood that his past life of sin needed to be addressed.
He knew that as a public figure, his criminal past was well known. God forgave him of all his sin when he repented toward God and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation. His acts of restitution did not add to his salvation. They did not secure his salvation. What they did is prove his salvation.
John the Baptist told the Pharisees they needed to bring forth fruit meet for repentance.
There has been a false definition of salvation taught in many churches for a long time. God, in His mercy has been saving people. However, there are many who claim salvation that do not show the fruit of salvation. Jesus declared that a tree can be identified by its fruit.
I remember talking with a person some years back about a person that had claimed to be saved. After his claim of salvation, he kept all the sins of his past. The only change that there was is that he started to go to a secular church. Nothing else changed then and it still has not changed to this day.
That man is deceived. I have spoken with that man about his situation, and he rejects what I have to say. He has no Biblical support for what he believes but he has a mixed theology of Calvinism and New Evangelicalism that keeps him from receiving the truth. This mixed up theology is good enough for him. It puts him into the camp of the majority of today’s “christians” but it does not fit what the Bible declares a true child of God is.
The apostle Paul was directed to write:
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The first word in those verses is “wherefore”. This tells us that this verse is building on the past verses. In the previous verses, Paul was directed to write about the unique person of Jesus Christ. Paul was writing about the need for true humility and unity among true believers. This unity can only be developed in those who are truly saved. Saved people must have the mind of Christ.
What mind did Christ have? Based on the context, He humbled Himself. He did not come to exalt Himself. He took on Him the form of a servant, obedient unto death.
John 17 shows us that Jesus knew who He was. He was not insecure. He knew He was the second person of the Godhead. He willingly set aside His glory and took upon Himself the form of a servant, obedient unto death. In Philippians 2 Paul wrote that He was exalted after His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. He was given a name that is above every name. He is Lord of all. Every knee shall bow before the Lord Jesus Christ one day.
The wise person bows before Him now. Thus we read in Philippians 2:12 that the born again child of God needs to continue to be obedient to God’s Word and will. The “working out of our own salvation” is not a working for our salvation. It is a demonstration of the fruit of salvation. Galatians 5:22f gives us a description of the fruit of the Spirit. There is demonstrable evidence of the change that God makes in the saved person’s life.
After Saul (Paul) was saved, the brethren had difficulty believing that he was truly saved. Barnabas went with Paul and helped the brethren to accept Paul as a truly born again Christian. It was not that Paul did not demonstrate the gift of salvation in his heart and life. It was that the brethren were so afraid of him that they did not believe that God could truly change a man like Saul.
It is important for any person to remember that the Bible is the Word of God. Man’s words do not supersede the Bible. Man’s words must agree with the Bible, or else they are not true. The saved person will have a testimony of genuine salvation. They will not be infallible, but they will be changed. They will actively work at putting the “old man” to death, and they will be actively putting on the “new man”. This again is not a work of salvation, but it is the fruit of salvation.
Bad habits don’t automatically fall off. They need to be put to death. The saved person wants them dead. He/she does not want to live that old sinful life any longer. That is what Biblical repentance is all about. It is a turning to God and in so doing, leaving the old sinful life behind.
Then there is another slanderous claim that is made. That claim is “legalism”. Most people who use that term have no idea what they are talking about. We will look at this in another devotional.
We come again to the importance of a true local church. There is no substitute for that. The saved person needs the house of God. It is not a matter of playing the numbers game. It is a matter of being fed properly. You cannot be fed properly if you will not come to the table that God has prepared for you, if you are saved. Trust God and follow His way and you will be blessed.