|Acts 26 |
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense:
2 "I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, because I will make my defense before you today about all the things of which I am accused by the Jews;
3 Especially since I know you to be an expert in all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
4 As all the Jews know, my manner of living from my youth, was at first among my own nation in Jerusalem.
5 They knew me from the beginning, if they would testify to it, that in accordance with the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am on trial because of the hope of the promise made by God to our forefathers;
7 The promise to which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God day and night, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am being accused by the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought an incredible thing by you, that God should raise the dead?
9 I myself once truly thought, that I should to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 This is what I did in Jerusalem: I locked up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
11 And I punished them often in every synagogue to compel them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I even persecuted them to foreign cities.
12 While I was engaged in this, as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 At midday when I was on the road, O king, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks of your conscience,' [trying to warn you to stop your murderous persecutions].
15 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said, 'I am Jesus whom you persecute.1
16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in which I will appear to you;
17 Delivering you from the [Jewish] people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I [Jesus] now send you,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, release from sin's slavery, and an inheritance among those who are purified by faith in me.'2 [Paul also wrote in the book of Galatians: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed [anathema, sentenced to eternal punishment]. As we said before, so I say again now: if any man preaches any gospel to you other than what you have received, let him be accursed." Gal 1:8-9. And so the preachers and teachers of today's Christianity would be eternally cursed by Paul for preaching an entirely different gospel than the true gospel.]
19 Therefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20 But proclaimed first to those of Damascus, and throughout Jerusalem and all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works consistent with repentance.3
21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me.
22 Therefore having had help from God, I continue to this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying nothing other than those things that the prophets and Moses said would come:
23 That the Christ would suffer, and that he would be the first who would rise from the dead and proclaim light to the [Jewish] people, and to the Gentiles."
24 Now as he spoke in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning has made you mad."
25 But Paul said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak the words of truth and seriousness.
26 For the king, before whom I speak freely, knows of these things, for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; since this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have almost persuaded me to become a Christian."
29 And Paul said, "I wish to God, that not only you, but all those who hear me this day, were such as I am, except for these chains."
30 And when Paul had said these things, the king, the governor, Bernice, and those who sat with them stood up;
31 And when they had gone out, they talked among themselves, saying, "This man has done nothing worthy of death or of chains."
32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free, if he had not appealed to Caesar."
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1 Notice, Jesus said that Paul's persecutions of believers, was persecuting Jesus himself: As you have done so to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done so to me. And we know from history, that wherever Jesus appears in Spirit within his true believers, those believers are persecuted. As Jesus said: if they persecuted me, they will persecute you. As Paul said: all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. So here is a test of a true believer in Christ, possessing his Spirit in sufficient measure, that the worldly religious people will hate, persecute, and even kill the true Christians. This occurred in the Early Church; it also occurred with the Early Quakers, who suffered over 900 dead, thirteen thousand imprisoned, tens of thousands having property seized as spoils, and two hundred sent to slavery. See Persecutions for More.
2 Paul was sent to preach by Jesus as follows: "I [Jesus] now send you to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins, release from sin's slavery, and an inheritance among those who are purified by faith in Me." Acts 26:17-18. Paul speaks of faith as: being obedient to the leading of the Spirit.
they may turn from darkness to light
Until a man is crucified, he is cursed, living in darkness of the world and his heart without the guidance of God's light, sitting in the earth's prison of darkness, groping the wall like blind men, guessing what to do and say, even unaware that they are in prison, until they attempt to get free, when the prison guards begin their afflictions to offend and discourage him from even trying to get free and be restored to the image [Christ] of righteousness and holiness, walking in the light, guided by God with every word to say and everything to be done.
and from the power of Satan to God
What power of Satan? Paul answers again: "Where in times past you walked according to the ways of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], which is the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience....in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts of our mind; and were by nature the children of wrath and the object of His indignation." Eph 2:2-3.
What power of God? The first power of God is to believe this gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. Rom 1:16. The second power of God is to exercise your belief in the gospel by bearing the inward cross of self-denial; and though the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18. The third power of God is Christ, "to those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1:24. After you are in union with God, you have God's power to: 1) protect you from ever sinning again, and 2) do his commanded and energized works that are your great joy and bring glory, honor, and pleasure to God:
- For it is God who brings forth in you, both the will (to work) and the works (as commanded), according to his good pleasure. Phil 2:13.
- But he who practices truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced [formed and powered] through God. John 3:21.
- Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Heb 13:20-21
that they may receive forgiveness of sins
In the beginning if you turn from evil as best you can, those things you have remorse for having done and stop doing are forgiven. From the Word of the Lord within: "Turn from evil as best you can and set you sight on heaven." Then as you wait on God, the Lord will order your further repentance and show more of what are your sins. Unless you agree* to God's charges of your sins and then forsake them, (repent, stop doing them), there is no forgiveness.
release from sin's slavery
As Jesus said, "Truly, Truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin." John 8:34. What is sin? Sin includes: sexual immorality, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, profanity, adultery, lack of restraint, sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousies, rage, selfish ambition, divisiveness, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries (partying), evil thoughts, fornications, wickedness, deceit, blasphemy, pride, anger, boasting, flattery, immodesty, immorality, and foolishness; any of these disqualify any man from heaven.
How are you freed from sin? By bearing the inward cross of self-denial, which is daily to wait on God, by sitting in silence, as you listen and watch for his understandings and words that command your repentances from your behaviors, which if you obey, each sin is removed, (even the desires for sin is removed). With patience and persistence to the end, when you see Jesus bring your salvation, you will be washed, purified, perfected, and renewed to the image of righteousness and holiness of Jesus.
(and receive) an inheritance
What inheritance? To be born again as a son of God. To enter the kingdom of God while on earth and be there forever. To even be a brother to Jesus: "For both he who makes holy and those made holy are of the same family for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brothers." Heb 2:11
among those purified by faith in me [Jesus]
Exactly what faith is Jesus saying can purify you? The faith that the Apostles preached was not an outward faith, but an inward faith. The object of both faiths are the same, but the differences are crucial to realize the promises of God. The two faiths are:
- to concur with history in the Bible that Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, etc.; that is outward Bible-faith,
- to hear the Word of God, which word is in your heart to obey — this is the word of faith that the Apostles preached. Hearing and obeying Jesus speak to you from within your heart is operational faith, inward faith, faith given to you by Jesus himself. With persistent obedience to the commands heard from God within your heart, this faith within purifies. Turn inward for inward faith. From the Word of the Lord within: "Faith within purifies. Unless I purify you, you will have no part of me." "And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He [Jesus] is pure." 1 John 3:3"
George Fox wrote of this inward faith and focus necessary:
"The Father is in you all, Christ is in you, and the Kingdom of Heaven is in you; there, in your hearts, is where you will find them all. Know him there searching your hearts, and find him there trying your minds and hearts; incline your ears, and give ear to him there, who will render to everyone of you according to your words and works whether they are good or evil."
Your obedience to the commands you hear requiring your repentance, makes you a little more pure with each obedient act of repentance. So wait, watch, listen, hear, obey... wait, watch, listen, hear, obey..... seek, listen, obey. Do this repeatedly, follow his commands, and his words that you hear him speak to you will impart the life of God to you, as he removes the sins from your heart, one by one.
In addition, Jesus is also recorded as promising that you can become one with him and God and that you can enter the kingdom of heaven while you are still on the earth; see John 14 with footnoted commentary (click) and then John 17 with footnoted commentary (click). Have you ever been told that you can and must enter the kingdom while you are still on the earth? Have you ever been told you can become one with God and Jesus, which is necessary for salvation to be achieved? Yet both events are part of the good news Jesus came to preach; and then he died on the cross to show us the extent of our obedience required to attain: 1) freedom from the slavery of sin, 2) purity, 3) the kingdom of heaven, and 4) to become one with him and God.
The gospel is the ministry of the Spirit to totally free you from sin, as you repent from your old ways of selfishness on the inward cross of self-denial; to be washed, cleansed, and purified; to then be translated into the kingdom of Christ; and then to live in union with Christ and God, on earth and forever.
Jesus never said you could be saved if you say the sinners' prayer, or be baptized with water, or eat bread and drink grape juice; this is just heathenish ritual, the wide and broad way of that leads to destruction. Today's deficit sects, still captive to sin and the power of Satan, believe in a God whose favor is presumed to be granted due to their heathenish ritual and form of godliness. They deny a God of power, who can and is eager to free us from the oppression and captivity of sin, so that we can secure his promises, which require our holiness and purity. These deficit sects have defined a false gospel that promises an escape from Hell after death to those still sinning, and a false Jesus, who supposedly accepts sin, disobedience, and disregard of his own commands. Jesus said, he who doesn't love me, will not obey my teaching. As Paul said, "cursed is anyone who brings you a different gospel," a different gospel and different Jesus from what Paul preached. The deficit sects falsely preach a different gospel and a different Jesus than Paul, while completely ignoring, totally dismissing, and failing to believe the Good News that Jesus announced he had been sent by God to proclaim.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to preach the gospel to the poor [in Spirit];
he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
[who mourn due to their slavery to sin]
to preach release to the captives [of sin],
and recovery of sight to the [spiritually] blind,
to deliver [free] those who are oppressed [in slavery to sin],
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
[Jesus] Saying: "The time has come,
and the kingdom of God is at hand [very near];
repent and believe the gospel of God."
Notice, the time of the kingdom's beginning was then, when Jesus was alive. The New Testament is full of references to the second appearance of Jesus being then, not thousands of years later. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is recorded saying that some then standing with him, 2000 years ago, would see his glorious coming in the clouds with the Kingdom before they died. Paul, Jesus preaching, Jesus in Revelation, Peter, James, and John, — all said, soon, the time is near, a little while, he stands at the door. Christendom blithely ignores this gaping incongruity between what the Bible plainly states vs. what they are taught by their blind guides. It would be a cruel hoax to be waiting on Him to appear if the past one hundred generations of believers actually had no hope of ever seeing Him. From the Word of the Lord within: "Six attestations prove the reign's existence. The second coming is a personal experience. The second coming is in the hearts of purified believers. The King is where He is king."
The gospel within this site argues for purity and a sinless state. Doesn't the gospel you have heard excuse sin, immorality, impurity, and ungodliness? Which gospel seems more godly? Which gospel seems like the narrow way that few will find, and many will try but not be able to enter through the narrow gate? Which gospel seems like the broad, easy way that leads to destruction where many go? Can you see Christ arguing for sin, imperfection, impurity, and unholiness? So which gospel is the true one; the one promising freedom from sin, or the one that offers freedom to sin without guilt, but which says that you have to carry your "sin to the grave?" Isn't this just making grace a license to sin?
3 I preached, first to those of Damascus, and throughout Jerusalem and all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works consistent with repentance. Christ is the end of the Mosaic Law as a means to righteousness to everyone that believes; and works of the law count for nothing. Works of the law are the cereal offering, the lamb offering, the bull offering, washings, not eating certain foods, circumcision, tithing, sabbaths, celebration of days, feasts, etc.; these are dead works of the law, decided when to be done by the carnal mind and will of man.
However, in addition to works of the law, (the dead works done by the will of man), there is another class of works: works of faith, which are works that you hear from Christ within your heart command you to do, as you expose yourself to hear His commands by waiting on God; which is to sit in humble silence, listening for His voice and watching for His revelations. The first commands you will hear from the Lord are commands to change your behavior, speech, and thinking — Him commanding your repentance. To obey the commands of God that you hear him speak to you are operational works of faith, which Paul declared a must and James declared faith without works is dead. These are not works that you decide to do; these are works that God wills you to do, and when you do them, you are doing His will on earth as it is done is heaven. These are works of faith done in loving obedience to the commands you hear God speak to you from within your heart. These are works of life too, commanded from the life of God, Christ; and the words he speaks to you impart the life of God. John 6:63. Repetitively seek, wait, watch, listen, hear, believe what you hear or are shown, and obey — and eventually you will have received so much of the life of God that you become cleansed and purified.
Before you can hear the Word of the Lord within your heart to guide you, the first works for all are repentance, which John the Baptist told us were the prerequisite to seeking the kingdom of heaven:
Repent: think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct. Mat 3:2
Share from your excess with those who are without the necessities of life. [This is very key to your success in receiving God's favor.]
Be honest in all your dealings, never exaggerating or overreaching anyone.
Don't oppress people or frighten anyone, don't lie, don't want more, don't complain. Luke 3:10-14
When you can hear the Spirit of God from within your heart, as you wait on the Lord and listen to the Lord, he will command further repentance in your life. The commands you hear Him speak to you are to be kept, remembered, and obeyed; if he orders you to deny something in your life, you are to keep denying it. As you continue to obey His commands to you, you are eventually purified by his grace that teaches you how to live righteously, soberly and godly in this present world, until you are redeemed from all sins and purified for Himself a people of His very own with a zeal for good works. Tit 2:11-14. Then you are directed by God to do works of love to your joy and God's honor, glory, and pleasure.
God's grace and salvation are provided to create a people dedicated to good works, doing His will on earth as it is done in heaven.
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