Who is a Christian? #5

Thursday, February 20, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Upon hearing the Apostle Paul speak about his conversion for the last 23 verses, King Herod Agrippa II and Governor Porcius Festus respond: “[24] And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. [25] But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. [26] For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. [27] King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. [28] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Festus, not convinced, raises his voice to interrupt: “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (verse 24). He accuses the Apostle of being crazy! Paul sounds like an educated man, but he seems “too educated.” To Festus, Paul’s testimony is the simply ramblings of an insane, renegade Jew! “But the natural man receiveth not the things of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Paul replies to Festus’ charge of madness: “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:25,26). Festus and Agrippa could check the record to see if Paul was fabricating lies or telling the truth. His radical transformation was a historical fact to the land of Palestine, and his apostolic ministry has been conducted for last 30 years. However, sinful Festus is not interested in truth. He finds an excuse: “I do not believe the Gospel of Grace because its preacher is nuts!”

Let us expound Agrippa’s response in today’s Scripture….

Who is a Christian? #4

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Paul continues his testimony before King Agrippa II: “[14] And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. [15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] 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; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] 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.

“[19] Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: [20] But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. [21] For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. [22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

How will Judaean Governor Festus and Galilean King Herod Agrippa II respond to the Holy Spirit speaking to them through Paul? Will they be interested in becoming Christians, or will they be content in staying lost? Let us see what the Scriptures say….

Who is a Christian? #3

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

As chapter 26 of Acts opens, Paul eagerly stands before King Agrippa II and recounts his conversion: “[1] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: [2] I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: [3] Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

“[4] My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; [5] Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. [6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: [7] Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. [8] Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

“[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. [12] Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, [13] At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.”

Paul met the universe’s most important Person….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who were the ‘Herodians?’

Who is a Christian? #2

Monday, February 17, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

The term “Christian” appears only thrice in a King James Bible. Its first instance is Acts 11:26: “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” The second time is today’s Scripture. It shows up one final time in 1 Peter 4:16: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

It is important to note that the word is never one time found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While these believers are commonly called “Christians,” the Bible never labels them as such. The name was not attached to followers of Christ until Acts chapter 11—and this is in relation to the ministry of Saul (the Apostle Paul). It appears again with Paul’s ministry (see today’s Scripture). The word was finally passed on to those believers in Peter’s ministry (cf. 1 Peter 4:16). For now, we hone in on today’s Scripture.

Acts chapter 26 is Luke’s account of the Apostle Paul sharing his testimony with King Herod Agrippa II. This Herod is the great-grandson of King Herod the Great (slaughterer of the Bethlehem babies in Matthew chapter 2, some 60 years earlier). Back in chapter 22 of Acts, the unbelieving Jews had Paul arrested in Jerusalem after he delivered his testimony there. He stood before Israel’s religious leaders in chapter 23, causing them to conspire to put him to death. A Roman commander rescues Paul, assembling an army and sending him away to Caesarea (some 50 miles [80 kilometers] northwest of Jerusalem).

Paul stands before Judaean Governor Felix, giving his testimony there (chapter 24). Two years after Felix, Paul speaks to Governor Porcius Festus (chapter 25). Festus recruits King Herod Agrippa II for advice, and Agrippa agrees to listen to Paul. We have finally reached the context of today’s Scripture….

Who is a Christian? #1

Sunday, February 16, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

A brother in Christ remarked long ago: “Today, it seems like a ‘Christian’ is anyone and everyone but a Jew or a Muslim!” All these decades later, we can still see what he meant by that. The label “Christian” is used quite flippantly or carelessly, to where it is nearly hollow. Oftentimes, no real thought goes into its handling. In fact, the word “Christian” can be—and frequently is—used to refer to ideas and people completely foreign to the Holy Bible. When someone says “This is a Christian belief” or “That is a Christian person,” usually, what they really mean is “This is a denominational belief” or “That is a denominational person.” In other words, “Christian” is a substitute for the title of a particular sect, group, or cult.

Once, a man told me about a woman he was interested in dating. He reassured me, “She goes to church. She is a Christian.” (Does going to church automatically make someone a Christian? If so, going to the landfill makes someone a piece of garbage!) Then, there are those who say, “I am no longer a Christian.” What they mean is that they no longer attend church, and/or they stopped reading the Bible, and/or they quit doing “good” works, and/or they no longer pray, et cetera. When such statements are made, they advertise the fact that they really have no idea what a Christian even is. They know what a member of Christendom is, what a church member is, but they cannot define what a Christian is.

How dangerous for people to use Bible terms but ignore the Bible’s definitions when explaining those terms. It is doubtless one of the most effectual aspects of Satan’s evil world system. People can hear the correct vocabulary, speak the right words, and still fail to have accurate beliefs or a clear understanding of the truth. We need to be careful, lest we take this path of deception and unbelief. Let us search the Scriptures to see what the Bible says about Christians and Christianity….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Provided we do not hurt anybody, may we do what we want?

God is Love

Friday, February 14, 2020

“…God is love… God is love… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:8b,16b,19 KJV).

The word “love” is used very flippantly in today’s world. Of the many who speak about “love,” few know what it is. On this Valentine’s Day, we offer sound doctrine from God’s Word to correct the misunderstandings of what love really is. What is love, according to God’s Word?

Today’s Scripture says that “God is love”—God does not simply love, but His very nature is love. What does that mean? In 1 John 3:16, we read: “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” Our Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s nature is love—selfless, self-sacrificing!

God’s Word defines love and charity in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Love is seeking the best interest of others, even if it costs you something (time, energy, resources, et cetera). Charity is love in deed (demonstrated, manifested in action). God loved us, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It cost God the Father His Son, and it cost God the Son His life. What a selfless act!

Our nature in Adam is selfish, but our nature in Christ is not. Paul declares, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our Christian lives are driven and motivated by Christ’s love for us, not our love for Him. It is this unselfish love of Christ working in us that causes us to look on the things of others, to seek their edification and their benefit, not ours (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:1-11). This will result in charity, our selfless actions reflecting that love of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15).

As the lost world observes our Christian service, they will see, “God is love.”

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You can see our archived Bible Q&A study: “Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Job 32:8?

Sin Divides #13

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

Doctrine does not divide; doctrine is not the problem. Sin divides; sin is the problem. False doctrine resulting from sin is to blame. True, if we gather around mere sentiments—so-called “love” instead of sound Bible doctrine—we have a semblance of harmony. Alas, such human efforts will not successfully substitute true unity (God’s life). That shallowness will eventually fail because true love—God’s life—is absent. Unless we maintain sound Bible doctrine, we can never have meaningful, permanent concord!

We do not create harmony using “love.” Genuine love—seeking another person’s highest good—is accomplished via sound Bible doctrine. Once we trust the doctrine that defines Almighty God’s life, then we experience in and among ourselves the selflessness that exists among the Members of the Godhead. Looking at Calvary, we see God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you appreciate the unselfishness here? The sinless Son of God dying a cruel death to pay for ournot His!—sins? Nowhere else will we find such self-sacrifice! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

When we trust the Gospel of the Grace of God, then God the Holy Spirit will create in us His nature and attitude. Here is how man gets along with fellow man—and woman! “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7—the verse following today’s Scripture). While sin has caused divisions in Israel, Micah understood that the LORD would take care of it! 🙂