Acts 26:19-20, “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.”
When the apostle Paul was allowed to present the defense of his faith, he preached. That’s what Jesus called him to do. While reading his sermon to King Agrippa, I noticed Paul’s phrase, “performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
Naturally, I stopped to consider what “deeds” to which Paul referred. Before I came up with a list, I first remembered that Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…(John 14:15)” Certainly, these commands of Christ were in the mind of Paul and on his mind when he preached to King Agrippa.
For Christians, my guess is that most of us would struggle to remember all ten of the 10 Commandments. As for the New Testament commands of Jesus, we would probably come up with two:
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
Well, I knew there were more than two, so I Googled. As you can imagine, some people had 7, and some had 10, and one site had 1,050 commands! I would be in BIG trouble if I had to memorize 1,050 commandments of Jesus. When the scribe asked Jesus the question, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28), Jesus could have quoted the entire Torah, but He didn’t. Instead, Jesus provided a summary. Whew!
So, is Christ’s response, as found in Mark 12:29-31, “all” we need to do? Well, yes, but no.
Jesus summarized all of God’s commands. Still, He spent over three years walking around Israel, teaching. He said a lot of things. We should do many things to show our love to Jesus, but none of them earn our salvation. Jesus paid the cost of our sins in full. Salvation is given from God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9); however, salvation isn’t retirement!
The Christian Life is Salvation + Works
Our works are not inconsequential. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:27). The apostle Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) So, salvation is given to those that respond to God’s call (John 3:16), but we are still accountable for the things we do; did we “do” Christ’s commands?
None of the commands of Jesus earn our salvation, but salvation causes our hearts to desire obedience to Jesus. How could it not? If we consider “cause and effect,” then it’s not “because we obey, we love.” Instead, it is “because we love, we obey.”
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