“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple courts and were trying to kill me. I have experienced help from God to this day, and so I stand testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except what the prophets and Moses said was going to happen: that the Christ was to suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, to proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles” —Acts 26:19-23
Paul tells Agrippa that after he experienced everything he had described, there was no way he was going to disobey that vision. Be realistic. Who is possibly going to experience being knocked off your horse; seeing a blinding light and a voice saying, “Why are you persecuting Me?” and all the other things he heard and then tell the Son of God “No!”? You are not going to explain Paul’s zeal and persistence in proclaiming Jesus as the risen Christ by mere human motivation—he wasn’t acting on simply believing—he had an experience.When you have been born-again; recreated with the very life and presence of the God of Creation, you will not be able to go on as if nothing had happened. That experience revolutionizes your thinking; your priorities; you complete quality of life. Paul’s heavenly vision and the commission he received from the risen Son of God compelled Paul.
For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! —I Corinthians 9:16
So there is no surprise that Paul was faithfully proclaiming Jesus as the risen Lord. It began in Damascus (where he was saved), and proceeded to Jerusalem, all Judea, and then to the Gentiles. Paul is simply fulfilling the Great Commission of Acts 1:8.
Paul’s message was clear and simple: repent—turn to God—and demonstrate your repentance by works that are consistent with it. This sounds like the preaching of John the Baptist:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” . . . But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance” —Matthew 3:2, 7-8
To repent is to change your mind; change your attitude; change your perspective and your course—turn around. In particular, Paul calls on his audience to change their minds about Jesus, just as he had done. Jesus is alive. He is the promised Messiah. He is God’s only provision for man’s salvation—for the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternity in heaven.
Today we hear preachers saying that “we all follow the same god, salvation is whatever you believe.” No! I’ll say it even bolder: NO!!! If you hear a preacher saying things like that, run from them. I am being as emphatic and insistently as possible: Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life . . . no one will come to the Father, except through Me.” Are all beliefs the same? No, only one Messiah laid his life down for you; only one Savior was raised from the dead to set you free.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts