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.
In Acts 21, when Paul tried to preach Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem, there was such an uproar over his presence there, that He was attacked and and nearly killed by his detractors. Paul had to be whisked away by a Roman Commander and his soldiers because the violence of the mob was so great. When the Roman Commander tried to take Paul into the barracks, Paul appealed to him to plead his case. The commander let him, and Paul took a moment to confront the smears and reflect on his background, his encounter with Jesus Christ, and the transformation in His life that followed. Paul only had a moment to share Christ, and he took that moment. We have the same opportunity to take a moment and share Christ with others today.
There is a transcendent reality that largely goes unrealized when it comes to go out and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. The reality is this; there is a risk involved in loving people. When you consider what Paul was going through in Acts 21, he was being accused and smeared by his detractors, who in turn stirred up crowds against him and put his life in danger. The lesson here is this; it is a risk to love others who might reject us, hate us, and attack us. And to think that the Gospel, and our rescue from Hell, wouldn't exist if God didn't love us, and empower people like Paul to obediently spread that message makes it clear that love drives people (like Paul then and us today) to give it up, take the risk, pay the cost, and despite the cost and obstacles stacked against us, reach out to people anyway. This in turn adds greater power, in a convicting way, to what Jesus talked about when he said to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)."
When Paul evangelized to the Jews, they rejected him and his message as they saw him as a heretic. When he evangelized to the Gentiles, the Gentiles received the Gospel better, but came under intense persecution from the Jews and the Law. So how could Paul evangelize without the many laws, rules, and regulations that the law (outside the Ten Commandments) carried? The truth is, he didn't need them. When Jesus was on earth, He gave us principles to live by because He lived by them. Christ met people where they were and became all things to all people, and that's exactly how Paul evangelized. And so, we need to love people where they're at so that they can see the love of Jesus, and let the power of His message, presence, and Word, grow and bring forth life from there.
In this special presentation, we celebrate the life, memory, and faith of Carol June Billow, who went home to be with the Lord this last December. Carol is the mother of Pastor Troy Billow of Living Faith Community Church, and wife of Pastor Emeritus John Billow, who serves as the assistant pastor.
We all need good examples in our lives. We need people who have wisdom and set good examples through action. In this message, we see how Paul not only set the example despite hardships, persecution, and difficulty facing him in his time, but also set the example for all followers of Christ for all ages. As Paul was committed, focused, and diligent, we as followers of Christ we need to follow that example as well. It is by doing this, people will be able to see Christ in us, just as they did in Paul when he was spreading the gospel in his day.