|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 sanctified and purified by faith in me.'2
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 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 sanctified and purified by faith in me." Acts 26:17-18 Paul speaks of faith as: being obedient to the leading of the Spirit. See Footnotes 3 and 4 to Gal 3:24-25. Such faith that is exercised can definitely purify the heart.
This was Paul's gospel. 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.
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, speach, 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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