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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

Last two weeks, we in the study titled "No Light in Sight at the End of the Tunnel? We answered the question "What do you do when it seems you are not in any way near the end of the tunnel?" We saw how the enemy renewed their vendetta against Paul and as well as how Paul with wisdom handled the situation; and ultimately how God orchestrated the opportunity for Paul to preach to the crème de la crème. This week we shall be looking at how Paul handled his defence in King Agrippa's presence. So I invite us to come along, apply our hearts, observe and learn lessons from what we see. Prov.24:32

1.      Paul made it Clear - Verses 4-8

4-8 "From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up?and if they were willing to stick their necks out they'd tell you in person?knows that I lived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion.

Paul was not a hypocrite; his belief is this; if you believe the word; live by the word, fulfill the word! Don't be hypocritical, don't sit on the fence. Be a doer!

 

Vs 6: It's because I believed it and took it seriously, committed myself heart and soul to what God promised my ancestors?the identical hope, mind you, that the twelve tribes have lived for night and day all these centuries?it's because I have held on to this tested and tried hope that I'm being called on the carpet by the Jews. They should be the ones standing trial here, not me! For the life of me, I can't see why it's a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead.

 

2.      He Spoke the truth sincerely - Verses 9 - 11

 9-11"I admit that I didn't always hold to this position. For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might. Backed with the full authority of the high priests, I threw these believers?I had no idea they were God's people!?into the Jerusalem jail right and left, and whenever it came to a vote, I voted for their execution. I stormed through their meeting places, bullying them into cursing Jesus, a one-man terror obsessed with obliterating these people. And then I started on the towns outside Jerusalem.

Paul did not exonerate himself; he wasn't preaching the message as if he was "born again" from the womb. He also did not prove to be "holier than thou". "I admit that I didn't always hold to this position." When we preach showing vulnerability; people are able to identify with us and see that if God can deliver you (the preacher) He can deliver them too!

3.      He obviously was excited about his conversion and would not hesitate to tell it! Verses 12 - 18

Paul narrates his encounter (again). Recall in chapter 22 Paul captivated an angry mob; the same people who wanted him dead. He was at it again; an adept story teller!

4.      He engaged his audience (with a rhetorical question) Verses 19 - 20

 19-20"What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change?this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life?right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.

 

5.      He summarized skillfully - Verses 21 - 23

 21-23"It's because of this 'whole world' dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. They want to keep God for themselves.

Verse 22b - 23 "And everything I'm saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen: One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead, he would be the first rays of God's daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing."

His summary addressed the main problems with the Pharisees (they wanted God for themselves only and not the Gentiles) and Sadducees (did not believe in the resurrection and therefore denying the very essence of our faith)

6.      He knew it had to be God! Verse 22

Verse 22a: "But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I'm standing here saying what I've been saying to anyone, whether king or child, who will listen."

7.      Stand your ground - don't allow anyone make mockery of your faith! Verse 24-29

 24That was too much for Festus. He interrupted with a shout: "Paul, you're crazy! You've read too many books, spent too much time staring off into space! Get a grip on yourself, get back in the real world!"

But Paul stood his ground. "With all respect, Festus, Your Honor, I'm not crazy. I'm both accurate and sane in what I'm saying. The king knows what I'm talking about. I'm sure that nothing of what I've said sounds crazy to him. He's known all about it for a long time. You must realize that this wasn't done behind the scenes. You believe the prophets, don't you, King Agrippa? Don't answer that?I know you believe."

 28But Agrippa did answer: "Keep this up much longer and you'll make a Christian out of me!"

 29Paul, still in chains, said, "That's what I'm praying for, whether now or later, and not only you but everyone listening today, to become like me?except, of course, for this prison jewelry!"

Conclusion

In conclusion we will consider the concluding verses: 30 - 32. Did Paul make a mistake? No!

 30-31The king and the governor, along with Bernice and their advisors, got up and went into the next room to talk over what they had heard. They quickly agreed on Paul's innocence, saying, "There's nothing in this man deserving prison, let alone death."  32Agrippa told Festus, "He could be set free right now if he hadn't requested the hearing before Caesar."

Naturally at this point one will say; "if only Paul had not appealed to Caesar, he would have been a free man!" Yes, naturally. But he wouldn't have had the opportunity to preach to Festus. His wife and the people gathered and definitely not Caesar himself! So Paul did not make a mistake; neither should we when the opportunity comes for us to stand our ground. Don't take it lightly when guile people try to make mockery of your faith!  "Despise the despicable" Ps. 15:4 [MSG]

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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