Paul shares his experience with Jesus Christ himself to King Agrippa, In fact, Paul was so strong in his testimony to the King, that He ended up witnessing to the power of Christ more than he was giving his defense. Just as these life changing events happened to Paul, it has become allegorical, and reflective of what Christ can do for us.... if we let Him. Jesus calls all believers to be servants and witnesses to the power of Christ in their lives, showing that He is real and in that, opening the eyes of people to turn them from spiritual darkness to the light from Heaven.
Divorce was rampant in the first century (just like it is today). When Jesus gave His sermon on the mount, He addressed the issues of both divorce and adultery. When the Pharisees heard Jesus speak on these issues, they questioned Him about them, using Moses (who divorced his wife) as an example. Jesus explained to them that Moses's situation was a heart problem. In this message, Pastor John Billow brings these issues at the forefront for wisdom, counsel, and acknowledgement, as they both attest to a bigger heart issue, as Jesus elaborates on and makes clear from a godly standpoint.
In this passage, Porcius Festus, the governor of Judea and Samaria, can't find anything incriminating enough against Paul to warrant special attention from Emperor Nero, so King Agrippa (who is familiar with Jewish customs and affairs) decides to hear Paul's defense. Paul gives His defense, citing his strict Jewish upbringing, history, and convictions, yet challenges them on seeing God's ability to bring back the dead, in regards to Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, to fulfill the prophecies written throughout the Old Testament. Paul rests his case on God's ability to keep his promises, and in this message, Pastor Troy preaches on what that meant then, and what it means for us today.
In the Roman political realm, mistrust towards the corrupt governor Marcus Antonius Felix led him to be deposed and replaced by Porcius Festus. After being detained for two years, Paul was left in prison by Felix as a favor to the Jews. Here, Paul is standing trial under Porcius Festus, but Festus is finding incredible difficulty in bringing up the legal charges against Paul that are serious enough to warrant special attention from the Emperor. Festus sees the situation as only a "religious dispute" between Paul and the Jews about a "dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive", and Festus brings this case to King Herod Agrippa II, who is the ruler of Judea and Samaria, and has direct contact to Rome and Emperor Nero. After Festus explained his situation, Agrippa's curiosity was triggered, and he asked for Paul to be brought in to hear what he had to say. The very greatness and cosmic significance of the the resurrection of Jesus Christ has created a ground swelling seriousness and change in Paul and other followers of Jesus Christ that has emboldened them to face, at this time, governors and Kings, and it still holds that power today, as Pastor Troy Billow explains in this message.
Paul talked to Marcus Antonius Felix, the governor of Judea and Samaria, and his Jewish wife about his faith in Christ. When Paul talked about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix got afraid and stopped him. Felix was a cruel and corrupt man. He was appointed by Emperor Claudius and frequently sought bribes, causing an increase in crime in the Judean province. What's interesting about this passage is the priorities of each party. Paul's motivation for preaching the gospel message was to prepare people for the Kingdom of God and the afterlife. Felix's priorities were momentary, in that he cared mainly about money, power, and his own selfish pursuits. In light of eternity, Felix was in serious trouble, and Paul made him aware of it. It's interesting how so many people today have the same priorities as Felix, are in serious trouble in light of eternity, and proceed engaging in "business as usual" as they ignore the seriousness of what lies in store for them after they die.
When we get to eternity, God will judge two sets of people by two different standards. For non believers, God will judge them by the standards of the Law (i.e. The Ten Commandments). When believers get to eternity, God will not measure them by how they keep the Ten Commandments, because it is already known by them that they cannot keep them. That's why they place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. He was the only one who actually kept the law and followed it through, and We depend on Him and what He did to "clear us" with the Father. For believers, God will measure us by how well we love one another and what we've done for Him and building the Kingdom of God through the Gospel message with that love. In this message, Pastor John Billow breaks the underlying dynamics of this concept down into deep and meaningful points that will both convict you and reveal for you, in a bold way. For example, what does it mean to "murder someone in your heart?" In this message you will see how great God's grace is and how it extends to create a place for those who respond, accept, and act on this.
In Acts chapter 24, the Jews from Jerusalem present their charges of blasphemy against Paul before Marcus Antonius Felix, the governor of Judea and Samaria. Paul was called, in a derogatory way, "the follower of the way." The more he resembled the nature of Christ, Paul was misunderstood, and received a lot of flack, persecution, belittlement, accusations, etc. living the reality that Jesus talked about in Matthew 10:22. Paul is our example. Being a true follower of Christ in this world is not going to be easy. That said, you are going to be misunderstood, accused, maligned, slandered, and so forth. It goes with the territory. Speaking in his own defense, Paul sets the maligners straight, exposing the charges against him to be false.
Whenever the Apostle Paul got worried, discouraged, or burned out from spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the many challenges that accompanied it, Jesus met Him where he was, in that moment, and told Him to take courage. That said, like Paul then, Jesus is standing next to each and every one of us today telling us to take courage.
Pastor John Billow explains what Jesus's words "I am coming soon" has meant to the churches in the first century up through the 21st century. However, in the 21st century, we see how the promise and the sense of urgency is stronger now than it has ever been in human history.
The original Garden of Eden was a sight beauty, vegetation, animals with a peaceful disposition, and glorious nature of everything, including open communication with God. Yet the fall separated us from God and placed a curse that consequentially subjected the Garden to decay and complete deterioration. In this message, Pastor John Billow explains how the new Garden of Eden will be restored after Christ returns and the curse of everything that causes death, decay, and strife will be lifted in the new millennium.