GET TOGETHER- FAITHFULNESS UNDER FIRE
Ac 26:1,2 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,
There is no doubt as I mentioned last week that Christians throughout the world are being persecuted. And there is no doubt that Christians in the United States that believe in the Deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are facing hostility from the culture in a way that we never have before in the United States. For those of us who hold a Biblical worldview concerning marriage we sometimes are called names such as haters, or are referred to as being backwards. Also, Christians that believe that life is precious and begins at conception are often ostracized.
The Apostle Paul was facing a very serious threat to his ministry and his life when he is brought before King Agrippa. How does he respond when he is brought before King Agrippa? Does he call Agrippa insulting names? Does he mock him? Agrippa was the king, and governor over the tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanias. He also served as the Superintendent of the Temple. This was a way that the Roman government could be sure that things didn’t get out of hand at the Temple.
Paul could have stood there and really came down on Agrippa about a lot of things. He could have chosen to lash out at him concerning his family line which was very wicked. He could have joined in on some of the gossip about Agrippa and his sister Bernice. But he didn’t.
Let’s look in a little on what Paul does say. Space will not allow for every thing that Paul said, but let us look at some of his interaction with King Agrippa and with Festus the procurator of Judea. Notice that Paul respectfully refers to him as King Agrippa. How do we address people that may be hostile toward us? How do we address or refer to leaders that we may disagree with? Do we respond different that the way the world responds? Notice that Paul will never compromise the truth. But on the other hand, as he gives his testimony there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is indwelling in him and empowering him.
He shares about his past life before he met Jesus Christ Ac 26:4,5 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. “They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” He shares his being puzzled about why he is on trial Ac 26:6-8 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.”To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
Paul is on a Kingdom assignment. If you have been saved God has Kingdom assignments set up for you. If you have not been saved today is the day of salvation. Turn to Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Lord and Savior. Paul tells them that it is not contrary to the kingdom, or to the Hebrew Scriptures to believe in the resurrection of the dead: Ac 26:8-10 “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”
Once again Paul shares where he had been wrong in the past Ac 26:9-11 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. “And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even” Now he has an audience that he can share how Jesus changed his life with. As Christians I believe that we are all called to share the Gospel with those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. You can read about Paul sharing his testimony of what happened on the Road to Damascus in verses 12-18.
With that said at the present time rather than trash talking people that are hostile to the Gospel I am praying for them to have Damascus Road experiences. Would you join me in praying for government leaders who are not saved on all sides to have a Damascus Road experience? Would you do the same for corporate executives, professors on many of our college campuses and other people, that are hostile, or indifferent to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Paul did not deny that those who were persecuting him were in the wrong. He just made sure that he presented the truth in a manner that glorified Jesus Christ. He did not hesitate to say that those who were opposing him were walking in darkness. But he did not trash talk them. We can speak truth without trash talking those who oppose us. When we resort to trash talk, or gossip we are taking the bait that Satan is using to point out that we are no different from the lost. Ac 26:19 -23″Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come– “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
Here is another good example Paul has just given his testimony. He preached the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Messiah and now Festus tells him that he has lost his mind. Ac 26:24,25 “Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.” I know from experience that when you have just finished preaching, or testifying,or both that it is a very emotionally draining experience in some ways. I certainly have not had the opportunity that Paul had on this level before a high government official that was a pagan. But in some ways, I can imagine what it would be like to pour your heart out before someone in this setting and then to be basically told that you were out of your mind from studying the Scriptures and proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But notice how Paul addresses Festus. He calls him most noble Festus. He does not take the bait of the enemy and refer to him in a disrespectful way. On the other hand, he does speak truth. You can read the rest of Paul’s trial before Agrippa and Festus.
We hear from time to time that Christians aren’t called to be successful, but faithful. I can agree with the thought and spirit behind that statement. On the other hand, I believe that when we are faithful that we are successful. Our success will not always be defined by the way that the world defines success. I believe in God’s eyes that Paul was both successful and faithful on this particular day.
On that day Paul issued an invitation to King Agrippa. Ac 26:27 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Here was Agrippa’s response to Paul’s earnest plea after he under the anointing of the Holy Spirit had given his testimony concerning the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ Ac 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
Paul respectfully makes one more plea, not only to Agrippa, but to all who were in that room. Ac 26:29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.” It must have been disappointing for Paul that day when those who rejected Christ got up and walked away. I have often wondered how may times since that day over two thousand years ago those who rejected his plea have regretted it: vv30,31 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.”.
One thing we know for sure is that when Paul spoke that he spoke the truth. He spoke the truth in love. In this culture we face, hear and read about many people that are hostile to the Gospel. Many are hostile to the message concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are many that are opposed to a Biblical worldview in our culture today. While we live in this culture may we speak the truth, and not compromise. But may we also do it in a way that brings glory and honor to the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let Us Pray
Lord today help us not to be trash talkers, but truth speakers. We ask You by the power of the Holy Spirit to help us as You did the Apostle Paul and the early saints to speak in a way that brings glory to your Name. We pray that You will help us to win others to Christ in these last days. Help us to pray for those who oppose the Gospel. Just as You did with Paul, we believe that You can turn them into mighty men and women of God. We pray that our words will be word that are Spirit and are life and not words that do not bring Glory to Your Holy Name!
In Jesus Name
Joh 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.