“…they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).
The word “repent” means “to turn” – to turn away from sin (Acts 2:38) and to turn to God. Repentance means that we do our best to live as He lived by the power of His grace. John the Baptist said to those who came to him for baptism: “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
Showing our repentance through our actions doesn’t mean that we are earning salvation through works. Nothing we do can atone for the sins we have committed. Only Jesus Christ’s sacrifice can pay the penalty of our sins (Ephesians 2:8). The fruits of repentance are merely the evidence of God’s transforming power in the heart to those that accept Jesus by faith.
Some wrongly believe that conversion takes place by simply reciting a short prayer, and that requiring obedience to specific laws is “legalism” and opposing to living under grace. However, The Bible teaches that “the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). God wills “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17).
To illustrate: a criminal receives a pardon for his offense. Is the pardoned criminal now free to break the law? Of course not. Now the criminal is expected to be a law-abiding citizen. Similarly, a convicted sinner who receives a pardon is expected to be a good “spiritual citizen,” abiding by the laws of God through His enabling grace (Philippians 2:13).
Good works are the natural fruits of the right kind of faith “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
In His service,