The Devil, The Dark, and the Deliverance Part 1

Paul had been arrested (for being a Christian) and in the course of being tried he appealed to Caesar. Being a Jew and a Roman citizen gave him the right to do this. When Paul did this, the Roman rulers in Jerusalem weren’t sure what to do.  They sent him to Felix. He trembled at the message Paul presented to him but said he wanted to wait for a more convenient season. He told Paul he would call for him again.  He kept him in prison for two years, but we don’t see where Felix ever called for Paul. What he hoped for was that someone would pay a bond for Paul to be released and he’d get some money. Agrippa was a puppet king in Israel. Felix sent Paul to him after he agreed to see him.

Remember that Christianity doesn’t make sense to the lost.  It didn’t make sense to us before we were saved. The unsaved like darkness.  Paul was a light. He shined. Felix explained the charge against Paul. Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak.  If we study this closely we’ll see that Paul addresses Agrippa intelligently and respectfully. I took a new Christian visiting one time.  He sat down in the home and the first thing he said was “you’re going to hell.” You shouldn’t do it that way.

Paul began with his personal testimony.  Festus told Paul he had lost his mind for believing what he did. To look at a man of Paul’s caliber and background didn’t make sense.  He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, a cohort in the stoning of Stephen, a deacon in the early church.  He killed people for being a Christian. Now he was a completely different person and behaving strangely.  Many thought he had lost his mind because of his beliefs. I’m glad to be crazy if that’s what it is to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul assured them he wasn’t “mad.”

He reminded them that before all Jerusalem Jesus had taught his message.  They knew the record was there. They knew Jesus was rejected, crucified, buried and on the third day the tomb was empty.  It was now on record that people from all nations were accepting the Lord and this started the church of believers in Jesus.  Paul broke salvation down A to Z. He spoke of the change that comes when one believes and of our purpose as children of God. We do have a role to fulfil.

Salvation is a blessing.  We need to remember the shape every lost person is in.  The definition of sin is given in the Bible and still stands.  It has been revised by the world. Good is considered evil and evil considered good.  It’s been this way since the beginning. Satan made God out to be mean and told Eve that eating of the forbidden tree would be good for her.  When you see a little bit of black mold in a basement, always remember that behind the boards it’s everywhere. Sin permeates hearts and minds. It’s a deep engulfing that can’t be gotten rid of just any old way. It’s all due to the fallen nature of man. When we were saved we received a new nature.  When we sin we now sin against that new nature.

We tend to categorize sin.  Sin is a tree and the fruit on it may not all look exactly the same.  All apples on a tree won’t be exactly the same but they are all apples.  Sin is sin no matter what it is. We want to look at a child molester and call him depraved.  And he is. We look at a person who has murdered his family and call him a monster. And he is.  Then we look at a good person. He’s a good neighbor. Guess what. All these will go to the same hell if they don’t get saved.  Paul didn’t say that some have sinned or categorize it. He said “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Agrippa was halfway respectable.  He listened to Paul and said that he was almost persuaded to be a Christian.

Well, this is Paul.  Paul was a great apostle of God.  That’s why he did what he did. Yes he was an apostle, but we have the same thing he had.  It is no light purpose to be a Christian. We have what we need to be the same witness that Paul was.  Paul didn’t do it because he was an apostle. He realized he was a witness. He told Agrippa he could have Jesus if he’d do what he had done himself.    He told the story of traveling on the road to Damascus. He was on his way with papers to persecute more Christians. Agrippa knew this was true. Paul was public enemy number one to believers in Jesus. Agrippa knew this. Paul told him Jesus called him by name and saved him.

Acts 26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

Jesus spoke to Paul in a language he understood and he spoke to him personally.  I’m glad that the Lord spoke to me in my language. I’m glad the original texts of scripture are translated into languages that people can understand.  God spoke to us personally and we believed. Do you remember when he called your name?

We must immerse ourselves to be an effective witness.   That means we might have to step into the shadows to reach someone with the gospel.  There is a purpose: (1) verse 16 says it is to make us a minister and witness. Minister doesn’t mean an office such as a preacher.  It’s a simple noun that applies to all of us. Our primary purpose is to be a servant, a minister, to others. (2) The witness is our personal experience of salvation.  Someone shared the gospel with us and our heart was pricked just as Paul’s was. We accepted it and were saved. Now we’re called to tell others about it. This is just what Paul was doing with Agrippa and what we are to do with those we come in contact with.

We’ll pick up with Part 2 next week.

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