Bowie Apostolic Church
Acts 26: That God Should Raise the Dead
by From the Pastor's Desk on February 26th, 2013

Paul's Testimony

Acts 26:6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? 9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 
In this chapter, Paul share’s his pre-conversion and conversion experience in more detail than we’ve seen in the entire New Testament. His pre-conversion activity was appalling from every modern aspect. It was violent, extreme, hateful and intolerant. He says: “I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:10)” Now we see that the Jews are persecuting him with the same “raging fury” that he once had. But God is protecting him.

This tells us that we cannot afford to categorize anyone as beyond redemption. His conversion was one of the most profound demonstrations of the power of the Holy Spirit that alone can so dramatically transfer the character of a person. Imagine the reputation of this man and the amount of astonishment that the church had regarding his abrupt change he had found in salvation. Who would you be shocked to be saved? Why not pray for that person. If He can do it for Paul, He surely can do it for whoever you just thought about. Are they beyond the arm of the Lord? Is their lifestyle so vile that they are beyond the point of no return? Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus speaks to Paul in this particular account telling him what he has been saved for: “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:18)” This is the same reason that we all are converted. There is a dying world out there. Paul was a living witness to himself that this gospel works. It touches lives in ways that cannot be denied. He had all confidence in the message that he preached, because it was the message that was preached to him by the One who is, who was and who is to come. The One that rose from the grave. “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” This One that rose can save us. He can transform us!

How was this great testimony received? The bible says that Festus interrupted him with scorn. “Paul, you are out of your mind (Acts 26:24)” was his reply. Imagine being so glad about what God has done for you, sharing it with someone with the intent that they would believe you and then being mocked by them in such a dismissive way. Many of us would be offended. Many of us would not be bold enough to do so because we are afraid of such a reaction. But Paul was not deterred by this. He was used to failing with some and succeeding with others. 

But that is not the end of the story. When some will mock the message, still others will be affected by the message. This is what happened with Agrippa. His response was totally different. His response also was public. “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian? (Acts 26:28)” Agrippa’s response seems to cover up what he was feeling. He did not outright deny what Paul was saying.  Paul’s response is notable: “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am. (Acts 26:29)” This man Paul spent 2 ½ years in Ephesus trying to persuade sinners. If Agrippa were willing, Paul would be willing to spend more time with him. 

How long are we willing to speak to the willing soul? 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 months? Many times we are not willing to do what is necessary: spending time with the hungry. Our time belongs to God. Let us use it for His purpose.


Posted in Acts, Bible 2013    Tagged with Paul, Festus, Agrippa, resurrection


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