PAUL'S TESTIMONY BEFORE AGRIPPA AND FESTUS
Paul's defense before Agrippa (The appointed king or ruler of the Jews by the Romans) and Festus (The Roman governor of Caesarea) began by telling his testimony before them. Paul addressed Agrippa because he was well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Paul mentioned that he was committed to God through their Jewish religion since childhood. He lived as a Pharisee as an adult, the strictest sect in Judaism. However, it was the hope in God that their ancestors promised he was on trial. The hope was Jesus, the Savior, who was resurrected from the dead. Before Paul became a Christian, he was against Jesus. He was committed to imprisoning Christians and approved of many of their deaths. He went from one synagogue to another to punish and force Christians to curse Jesus. He was obsessed with persecuting Christians, hunting them down in foreign cities. However, on the road to Damascus, Jesus showed himself to Him and told him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will." Not knowing who the voice was, Paul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" Then Jesus answered, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting." (Acts 16:1-15).
Jesus could have taken Paul's life in the beginning if He wanted to. He could have avenged the Christians he put into prison, and he had approved of being killed. Many Christians had suffered because of him. Many, like Paul today, are persecuting Jesus and Christians (https://www.persecution.com/stories/2023/). Jesus did not kill Paul but let him live because God had a plan for his life. Similarly, God does not kill all the persecutors of Christians because he wants to give them a chance to become Christians. A person can only be saved while still living on this earth. There is no salvation available after death. Anyone who died believing in the Lord Jesus is saved, but the Lord will judge those who reject him.
The believers who died during Paul's persecution went to Heaven and received their eternal reward, and for those who were persecuted, God comforted them. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. We can use the Voice of the Martyr's website as our guide.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through carefully and meditate on the questions while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speak to you) Why does God allow those who are persecuting Christians to live despite being against Jesus? What is my responsibility as a Christian to support my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are suffering for their faith in Jesus? Am I willing to suffer for my faith in the Lord Jesus?
Write down all the worries you face today and lift them up to God.
Father in Heaven, nothing can stand against you, for you are above all your creation. I pray that those persecuting the Christians and my Lord Jesus will open their hearts to believe in you. Please have mercy on their souls. And I pray that my brothers and sisters who are suffering right now because of their faith in my Lord Jesus would be comforted, encouraged, and strengthened by the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Please rescue them from their persecutors. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.