“therefore, o king agrippa, i was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in damascus, then in jerusalem and throughout all the region of judea, and also to the gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. for this reason the jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. [acts 26:19-21]
the center of the gospel—repent and turn
in paul describing his obedience to Christ’s call, he doesn’t stress the differences between the faith of the jews and the christians; instead, he describes his ministry as one of repentance and turning to God, things the jews believed in too. the only distinction he gives so far is that he is preaching to the gentiles as well.
God doesn’t change
it’s a common misconception that God changed between the old and new testaments—that the God of the old testament was an angry God and the God if the new testament is a loving God. God has been fully just, yet radically loving all along (hos. 2:23, ps. 89:14)! paul is speaking to another misconception here, that the gospel of Christ is fundamentally different from the law and prophets. the call is still to repent and turn to God, but while the law left the jews waiting for a savior to fulfill God’s promise to abraham, the gospel of Christ shares the good news that the law has been fulfilled in Christ, and that if we repent and turn to Christ, he will give us the Holy Spirit to write the law on our hearts (jer. 31:33)!
Lord, stir our hearts to thankfulness that you never change, that you loved us so much that you didn’t wait for us to fulfill our end of the bargain—you came to fulfill our end for us, enduring our deserved punishment on the cross! thank you for saving us when the law couldn’t, and help us to remember our desperate need for your presence as we continue to repent and turn to you!
~ stephen hall