ACTS CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
Introduction:King Agrippa had requested of Festus that he be allowed to hear the great apostle Paul. This, of course, was welcomed by Paul who was always willing and ready to testify for his Lord, whether it be to slaves or kings. As Paul preached, his sermon was suddenly interrupted by Festus who called him insane. Many preachers have been called insane. Let's find out what Paul said that caused Festus to make such an accusation.
The Past -- Vs. 1-11
After Festus finished introducing Paul, Paul was wise enough and polite enough to keep silent. He waited for the king to speak and when permitted, Paul began his speech. To others, this man was a powerful king, but to Paul he was just another sinner who needed to know Jesus Christ.
Vs. 2-3 -- Paul respected authority. cf. Romans 13:1-7.
Vs. 4-5 -- He speaks of his life before he was saved. cf. Philippians 3:4-7.
Vs. 6-8 -- Here Paul speaks of the folly of the charge made against him. "The hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers," -- Christ. The promised Messiah. Hebrews 1:1. Christ was revealed from Genesis to Malachi.
Since Agrippa knew so much about God's dealings with the Jews and God's dealing with his own father (Acts 12:1) why should Agrippa believe that raising one from the dead was impossible.
Vs. 9-11 -- Paul recounts his unreasonable blindness and hatred of Christ and His people. No doubt this grieved Paul greatly as he thought of his life before he was saved. Now he is sorry that he had grieved his Lord and hurt His people.
Notice that Paul was never charged with madness until he became spiritually sane.
The Preparation -- Vs. 12-18
Paul quickly passed on from what he had been to the thing which had happened to him, the thing which changed him for time and eternity.
Every Christian ought to be able to recount their conversion. Matthews 18:3
At Paul's conversion, Jesus asked him, "Why persecutest thou me?" This same question could be asked of us. We persecute Him when we sin against Him, leave Him out of our lives, don't listen to Him, rob Him of tithes and offerings, give our energy to the world, when His church needs us so badly, etc. Why persecute Him when He has done nothing but good for us?
God appeared to Paul for a purpose. God wanted Paul saved. God wanted Paul to serve Him and love Him. God had a plan for Paul's life if he would accept it and follow it. God has a plan for our life, but first we must be saved, and then God will use us. Ephesians 2:8-10. No person is ready to go forth and bless the world until he has met and accepted Jesus.
The Preacher -- Vs. 19-23
After Paul told of his conversion and his call to service, he burst forth in a great declaration, "Oh, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." Then he went on and told what he had done. After his conversion, he went to Damascus and preached Christ. Then he went to Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18) and then to Jerusalem. After that, he preached in the coasts of Judea and then to Tarsus. He preached God's message of a Divine Saviour who died for our sins (all men's sins -- I John 2:1-2;
I Timothy 4:10) and who rose again showing forth the fact that God was satisfied with His death as the full punishment for our sins. Romans 3:26; 4:25.
What was the secret of Paul's life? Here it is: He had a vision from heaven. Instead of turning his back upon that vision, he followed directions and did exactly what Christ had told him to do. When Dr. A. J. Gordon made the last speech of his life, he spoke to the young Baptists of Boston and said, "Never say'no' to God." Another great preacher when asked the secret of his success, said, "I never said 'no' to God."
We ought to say no to many things. Illustrate or give examples. We should never say no to God. Discuss some things He tells us to do that we should never say no to God about.
The Presumption -- Vs. 24-26
Festus made mention of Paul's great education B "much learning." Paul, though greatly educated, was sold out to use that education for Christ. Many Christians waste their time and do not strive to get a good education. They should! An educated man sold out to God can usually do more than an uneducated man sold out to God.
Many Christians have a good education and other talents, yet waste them and don't use them for Christ. What a shame.
This was not the last time that one of God's preachers would be called insane. The world doesn't understand spiritual things. I Corinthians 2:9-13.
Let's stop and think. Who was the saner? Paul, who thought the only thing worth living for was Christ, or Festus, who thought the only thing worth living for was to get all he could out of the governorship? Make application of this in our everyday lives.
Vs. 26 -- The matter of Christ's death and Resurrection was done in a manner that the news would be widely circulated. Therefore, neither Festus nor Agrippa were excused from responsibility of what they would do about Christ.
The Persuasion -- Vs. 27-29
Paul had brought his message to a climax showing that these hearers had no excuse for not trusting Christ as he had. In a moment of great tenseness and emotion, Paul looked upon the king and said, "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest." Herein, Agrippa was trapped. If you believe the Bible then you are without excuse if you reject the Christ about whom the Bible reveals.
Agrippa believed the Bible. The Bible is God's word. It's reliable. We can put our confidence in every thing it teaches.
Agrippa was "almost persuaded." "To be almost persuaded is to be almost saved and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost." The tragedy of Agrippa is the tragedy of "the almost." He almost repented. He almost accepted Christ. He almost made heaven. But he missed heaven because almost is not enough. John Bunyan said, "There is a way to hell from the gate of heaven!" Agrippa took that way.
The Purpose -- Vs. 30-32
As soon as Paul said, "I would to God that all of you were Christians, " the king stopped the proceedings, rose up from his throne and left the room. The Gospel arrow had pierced his heart. A wounded deer will leave the herd and go aside to some thicket and hide. This is what Agrippa did. He wouldn't face the facts. He ran. Many have heard the Gospel message and instead of doing that which was right, have run away like a wounded deer. We should always have courage enough to do right and it's right to be saved and have Christ as Saviour.
Festus and Agrippa both agreed that Paul should be set free. They pronounce him innocent. However, since he had appealed to Caesar, only Caesar could set him free.
Thus we see man's purpose working into God's purpose. Men intended to do evil to Paul but God intended for Paul to go to Rome. Romans 8:28. The purpose is working out.
Conclusion: How sad it is that Festus and Agrippa rejected Christ. Throughout eternity they will remember this memorable occasion, and will say,"Oh, if we had only done what we knew we should have done." Don't delay -- Eternity's too long, hell is too hot. Trust Jesus today.