Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. KJV
There is so much in this one little verse! I do not see that I will even be able to mention everything, let alone write about it. But, let’s begin.
The testifying that we are to do is to be before both those within the church and those without–both Jews and Greeks. Notice that there two things that are to be mentioned: repentance and faith.
Repentance comes from changing your mind about something. What we saw yesterday is that repentance should produce a radical life change.
Most of the time, repentance is connected with being sorry for our sin. That may be a place to begin, but it is not the place to end. It is not sufficient in and of itself.
If our sorrow is simply because “we got caught,” or that we are feeling guilty, then it produces nothing worthwhile. Being sorry is only a slick way to assuage our guilt for a moment, or to avoid some form of displeasure.
Repentance requires a complete change of attitude toward something.
However, it is possible to repent of something, have a complete attitude change that produces a radical life-change, and still not be saved. How is that possible?
Consider those who have quit smoking because their life was threatened. They repented of the damage they were doing to their body. They changed their attitude about their ‘need’ for nicotine. And they produced a radical life-change. But, they missed the most important aspect of repentance.
There must also be a turning towards as we turn away.
1 Th 1:9
…and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; KJV
It is one thing to turn from our idols. It is another thing altogether to turn to God.
True, valuable, lasting repentance must be of the kind that turns us to the Lord.
The second thing that Paul mentions here is that he also testified of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, it is possible to repent without turning to God. It is also possible to to repent, and turn to God in a way that has no lasting value.
Hindus repent and turn to God, but that turning is ineffectual. Moslems repent and turn to God, but that turning is ineffectual. Jews even repent and turn to God in an ineffectual way. So do many Christians.
If we do not repent and turn to God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our strength, our salvation, then our repentance will not be effectual. We will not be pleasing to God.
How do I know that? Why am I so bold?
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. KJV
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Just simply cannot be done. And pleasing God is my only desire, my only reason for getting up in the morning, my raison d’etre.
Will you join me in this? Will you let this be your overriding desire?