Paul (formerly called Saul) was under arrest for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been in prison several years and now he was going to go to Rome, for he had appealed to Caesar. King Agrippa was in town, and he wanted to hear Paul, so now Paul was giving his defense to the king.
So, Paul gave his testimony regarding how he had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees and how he had persecuted followers of Jesus, but how Jesus had met him in a vision on the road to Damascus, where Paul had been headed, and where Paul had planned to persecute even more of Jesus’ followers.
Paul said that he then heard a voice saying to him in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Acts 26:15-18 NIV
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ ”
Paul was converted after this. His life completely changed. By the grace of God, he made a spiritual U-turn away from a life of sin to following Jesus Christ with his life wholeheartedly. Now he was the persecuted instead of being the persecutor of the saints of God. Now he was among those he had once railed against for their faith in Jesus. That is transformation!
Now he was called of God to be a witness for Christ and for his gospel, and to be a preacher of truth and righteousness. He was given the assignment to preach the Good News of our salvation from sin so that many would be saved and would have eternal life with God in heaven.
So, what was the message of the gospel that he was to preach? He was to open people’s spiritually blinded eyes to see the truth. He was to turn them away from darkness (wickedness, sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Jesus Christ). And he was to turn them away from the power of Satan to follow the Lord with their lives in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
This would result in them receiving forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made pure, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ.
For, faith in Jesus Christ results in us dying with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. By faith we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we are reborn of the Spirit of God, and we are given new lives in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 2:20).
We can’t be reborn of the Spirit of God, though, until the “old man” is put to death. When Jesus died on that cross, he put our sin to death. And by faith in him we die with him to sin, and then we are reborn of the Spirit. And now we can walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, in the power of God. Amen! (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26)
We must be turned away from our sinful lifestyles to living to righteousness, and away from the power of Satan over our lives to come under the control of God’s Holy Spirit, so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and become children of God and heirs of the promise of eternal life with God. This is what Paul was to teach.
And when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, for true faith to exist within us, this is what must take place. For, if we continue living in sin, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Rom 6:16-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6).
Acts 26:19-23 NIV
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen — that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Saul (Paul), when called of God, was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. To everyone possible he preached that they should repent (turn from their sins) and to turn to God (in obedience) and demonstrate their repentance (their forsaking of their sins) by their deeds (their works).
Exactly! That is the message of the gospel that Paul taught. It was what he was called to do, and it is what he did in obedience to the Lord.
Yes, he taught that we are not saved by our own fleshly works that we do thinking God will approve us. Yes he taught that it is by God’s grace through faith that we are saved, and not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast he earned his own salvation (Eph 2:8-10).
But he also taught that we must die with Christ to sin, that we must turn away from our sinful lifestyles to follow Jesus Christ with our lives in obedience to his will and purpose for our lives. And he taught that our faith will be evident by our deeds done in the power of God’s Spirit in keeping with that forsaking of our sinful lifestyles to obey Jesus with our lives.
And he also taught that when we do live the life God called us to, and when we do obey him in doing what he says to do, and when we share the gospel as Paul described here, that we are going to face much opposition and persecution even from leaders and rulers in the temple of God, which is now Christ’s body, his church.
But the Lord will be our strength and support. He will give us the words to say. He will give us the courage we need to stand strong on the truth and to not cave to the opposition. Our Lord will give us the stamina we need to say what needs to be said even when we are opposed strongly. We just have to yield to him, do what he says, and lean on his strength and wisdom.
An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.
They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.
He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.
By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.
Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.
Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.