Acts 26: 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. 24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
This is the result of the Apostle Paul’s witness before King Agrippa. It is a crucial teaching from an unexpected source. This takes place at Caesarea. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and taken here. A charge was made on behalf of the Sanhedrin and rulers of the Jews against him. Felix heard Paul’s case and trembled under his words. He spoke of the doctrine he preached and explained his life before and after his conversion. Felix “got out of there.” Paul remained there in prison and later on Festus became governor and agreed to hear Paul. Chapter 25 tells us that Festus wanted to please the people. Paul’s answer to Festus was not expected. He said I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. At his request Paul would be on his way to Rome. Days later King Agrippa was there and Festus mentioned the case to him. He set it up, carefully wording his statements so as to stay in the middle not being on one side or the other.
Paul spoke and Festus quite loudly proclaimed that he was beside himself. What does that mean? I know you’ve probably said that about yourself before if during a certain circumstance you did something not typical of yourself. It means you sort of lost control and did something you don’t normally do. Festus inferred Paul had lost his mind and was a fanatic. Paul’s comments were so powerful that they worked on everyone. To some he was a crazy old man. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? People call those of us who claim the name of Jesus and follow the old paths crazy. There was a time when being a Christian was living right. It’s not that way now.
What does Festus teach us? The “now” Paul was so different from the “then” Paul that it was noticed. He retained his Jewish name of Saul for a while. Remember that Paul’s mother was Jewish; his father was a Roman. His mother would have called him Saul, and his father would have called him Paul. He came to prefer his Roman name of Paul to signify his freedom from the law. We get a new identity when we are saved. Are you untypical of the world, the people you work with or your unsaved friends and family? There has to be a difference. Paul wanted all to understand he was not insane. This was the new him. Do we project our lives in a way that is different from how we were before we got saved? Do we live our Christian life in the flesh or in the Spirit? Do we live according to the old carnal man or by the Spirit?
In Chapter 26 verse 1 Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak for himself. Regardless of what others think or say, we have divine permission from God to speak for ourselves pertaining to things of God. Paul was respectful. We need to respect others as well as the Word of God we hold. We are to be ready to answer. Deep down the Lord works on others giving a desire to know him. Your life can help with that. Paul was tickled to answer. He knew how to word it. The Lord gave him the ability to do it, and he’ll give us the ability to speak. If we stay true to him, help will come when needed.
Paul admitted his life was not typical of how he was raised. He was a strict Pharisee. He persecuted the church; he was enemy number one. His goal was to stamp out Christianity because he saw it as a threat. He didn’t realize he was lost. People belong to churches all over the world today that have never been saved. Paul went to the point of arresting and having Christians killed. What he did was accepted. Look at how sin is accepted today. People kill babies every day, and we’re not supposed to say anything about it. We should!
Paul spoke of his manner of life and asked to be considered for what he had done in the name of Jesus. Ask yourself this. “Is my lifestyle different from what I say I am?” If we say we are Christians but live differently, people will pick up on it. That’s a reason many people give for not coming to church—there are too many hypocrites. We need to practice what we preach.
Think about this between now and next week. You’ll have to come to the place you can honestly take a look at your everyday life and compare what you profess and say you believe to what you are. I’m not talking about what you are on Sunday or Wednesday night. I’m talking about every day. Be honest. Get beside yourself and look around. Compare how you think, act, and speak with the scripture. Make a list of the negative traits. We all have them. This is to help you. No one will see it but you. If you think something is okay just because others do it or it’s the popular thing to do, think again. Go to the source—the Word of God. See if it says the same thing. It may be time to change our ways. Look at Ephesians 4:17-22 and Colossians 3. They will help you.
Paul would eventually say I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. Can you say that to those around you—that you wish they were like you? Paul could. Can you? Can I? Think about it. It’s time to come honest with the Lord.