by Bobby D. Gayton
“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16.
This passage tells us that the Gospel is for everyone! Since the Gospel is for everyone, then it follows that everyone must continue to believe [aorist, active, participle] that Jesus is the Christ and be immersed to be saved. We are sinners. So we will perish without the Savior.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
Paul, the prisoner, stands before King Agrippa II around August AD 61. Felix had left Paul in prison to please his accusers. Festus could not find a charge to place against Paul. Now Agrippa II and his wife, Bernice, and Festus listen as Paul tells his story to them. Listen to what Paul said while standing before the king.
Who was Paul?
He was “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:5, 6). He was reared among those of the Dispersion at Tarsus in Cilicia. He was a Roman citizen. (Acts 16:37, 38). As Saul, he refuted the ideas that the Christ had risen and that the Law of Moses that he had so zealously upheld was set aside and of no future value. Saul’s zeal drove him to persecute Christians. And he did with all the vigor and energy that he could get together.
First, Paul informs King Agrippa II that Jesus changed the destination of his soul. Acts 26:3-15. Before this happens, Paul was concerned about his soul. He was strict in the religion of his youth. He lived as a Pharisee, trying to keep the Old Testament Law. Paul persecuted Christians to gain favor with God. He thought that God would be pleased with his opposition to Jesus (the Way). He had believers thrown into prison and was glad when they were executed. However, around AD 37, Paul was on his way to Damascus “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord…” Acts 9:1. Around noon a light brighter than the sun, “shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.” Acts 26:14. Paul heard a voice from heaven. He asked, “Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Acts 26:15. Paul asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Jesus could have told Paul what to do, however, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians 4:7. So, Jesus told Paul, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts 9:6. What was Paul told to do when he got to Damascus? “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16. See also Acts 9:4-18; 22:10-16. Saul’s sins, threats, slaughters [murders], persecutions of the church [disciples, Christians, the saved], and his sufferings were all washed away.
Second, Paul informs King Agrippa II that Jesus changed the direction of his life. Acts 26:16-25. In these verses, Paul was commissioned for a life of service to Christ. “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” Acts 26:16. He would be sent to the Jews and the Gentiles, to “open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18. Paul was not disobedient “unto the heavenly vision.” Acts 26:19. His obedience had brought him to this place and to the hands of his accusers. When Paul began to fulfill his mission, trouble came. The enemies of the Gospel tried to kill him. Still, Paul kept preaching about the death, buried, and resurrection of Christ. He seized this opportunity to preach and teach the Gospel to the king.
Third, Paul informs King Agrippa II that Jesus changed the desires of his heart. Acts 26:26-29. Paul’s former desire had been to do away with the members of the church and the message that was being preached. Cf. Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-3; Now his passion was preaching the Gospel of Christ. Paul went anywhere so that he could preach the Gospel of Christ. Paul had explained his conversion to King Agrippa II, Bernice, and Festus. He wanted them to know that Jesus was the Christ and that they had to obey to be saved. Here we see the driving desire of Paul’s heart. He wanted everyone he came in contact to obey the Gospel of Christ. We should have the same desire! King Agrippa II was almost persuaded to become a Christian.
What about YOU?