I preached…that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. – Acts 26:20 (NLT)
Paul’s trial was now in its second phase. He had been tried by Felix and found unworthy of death sentence, so his case was left for the next proconsul, Festus, and also King Agrippa. These men of authority heard the case against Paul presented by the Jews and then allowed Paul to defend himself in court. After the trial, the court found Paul innocent of the charges and would have freed him, but he demanded an appeal before the emperor, to whom he would be sent for further examination to determine his guilt or innocence. As part of his defense, Paul stated that he had done nothing but preach the truth that every person, Jew or Gentile, must turn to God to be saved and to live a life that truly demonstrates their conversion.
You may have heard in your days that saying that if Christianity were illegal, would there be enough evidence from your life to convict you of being a true Christian? This passage may or may not have inspired that saying, but nevertheless, Paul was tried for his faith because it was illegal to be a Christian in his day under Jewish law. It wasn’t illegal under the Mosaic Law but under the traditions that the Sadducees and Pharisees had made into law.
Paul taught everyone that they had to turn to God and to live a life that truly showed they converted. That same message speaks loudly to us today at the end of the age. Everyone everywhere must to turn to God to be saved, or they will die and spend eternity in hell in torment in the lake of fire. This is no joke and is no fabrication of men’s imaginations. Hell is real! It awaits those who are God’s enemies. The Bible calls us to live holy lives in front of sinners to prove to them that we have converted from being a sinner to being a believer.
If for some reason Congress enacted legislation, today, that outlawed Christianity, would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you? Do your words and deeds say that you are a TRUE follower of Jesus??? Many people would be arrested because they are called or call themselves Christians. This information would be enough to indict a person and cause them to stand trial for being a believer of Jesus, but would it be enough to convict them? Are you preaching the gospel to every person, baptizing those that believe, and making them into disciples of Jesus? Are you loving your neighbor as yourself? Are you loving God with all your spirit, soul, and body?
I know that if that hypothetical law were passed and enforced today, many so-called Christians would abdicate their faith and recant on the spot rather than face imprisonment or execution if the law made being a Christian a capital offense. Why? Because most so-called believers are believers in name only. They don’t produce fruit worthy of repentance. They don’t produce fruit that indicates a true conversion. They don’t love God. They do believe in God and profess to be saved, but they deny Him in their words and deeds.
The day is coming in America where it will be illegal to preach that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that all people must believe on Him to be saved. It will be called hate speech and an offense worthy of imprisonment. Eventually, it will be illegal the world over to be a Christian. If you should live to see that day, be prepared to give your life for the kingdom of God. We should have the attitude of the apostles and be excited to be counted worthy of suffering for the cause of Messiah and His kingdom. Jesus died for us to save us from our sins. Shouldn’t we be excited and willing to lay down our lives for His sake? The apostles did, including Paul. If they had not been guilty of being true believers and witnesses of Jesus, then we would be as Paul said, “still in our sins.”
Father, am I guilty of being a true believer? IS there enough physical evidence to convict me of being Your child? Does my life’s account reveal in word and in deed that I have turned from sin to You and made You my LORD and Savior? I pray so. I know in my heart that I love You with all my spirit, soul, and being, and I love my neighbor as myself. My deeds won’t earn me a place in eternity with You; salvation is by grace alone through faith because of Your gift of eternal life. I know that beyond any doubt. My deeds do, however, speak to the matter of whether I am being an efficient and effective witness of Jesus to the sinners in the world. Help me to shine for the light of Jesus in my deeds that men, sinners, may see my good deeds and glorify You and decide by conviction from Your Spirit to come to You and become part of Your family. In Jesus’ name, so be it.