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Acts 25:23-27; 26:1-8; 24-29
In the opening chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus gave this assignment to His disciples, “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). He knew that unless they did become witness of the gospel, His life, death and resurrection would be in vain and Christianity would be dead. That is why he also gave them his presence, the Holy Spirit, to help them accomplish their mission. Had they not have been successful, we would not be meeting today.
Today the assignment is still the same and the danger also the same. We who are believers and followers of Christ have an assignment and a powerful ally. We are to be His witnesses and we have His spirit, the Holy Spirit, to guide and empower us. Like the first disciples, the gospel of Jesus is just a generation away from extinction.
Instead the Book of Acts, originally named the Acts of the Apostles, is the story of regular people, out of ordinary lives, whose names are recorded in the best selling, most popular book of all ages, fulfilling that assignment.
In our scripture reading today, the last major event is a dramatic witness to the most powerful two persons in that part of the known world. Before we see how this story unfolds, let’s look at the cast of characters.
a.Festus was the new governor of the area. He has just assumed the position from Felix, perhaps the most selfish and cruel ruler of that country. Felix only held his position because his wife was a daughter of King Agrippa I. Festus was 70 years old and would die soon after this event.
b.King Agrippa II, the last ruler from the family of Herod the Greek, was a Jew. Because of his family’s ruling relationship to Israel, he boasted of being an expert on Jewish affairs, especially to the Romans. He had brought his wife, his half sister Bernice.
c.Paul was to appeal his case in a hearing, not a trial, for he had already appealed for justice to Caesar, ruler of all Rome. For the governor and king, they heard him to determine what they would write to Rome as his charges. For Paul, this was the opportunity God had promised him at his Damascus road conversion, saying he would preach to kings.
From these scriptures, we will examine how we are to be witnesses. Not that one of us will expect to witness to royalty, except that our goal is to help others become a “child of the king.” However, there are some qualities that we can intentionally develop in order to be an effective witness for Jesus.
The first characteristic we must develop is A Prepared Life, an essential part of our witness. How many times have we tried to help people memorize scriptures and learn the right phrase in order for them to be a witness, but it never worked A church was seeking a new pastor and someone asked one of the leaders what kind of preacher they were looking for. He replied, “We are not looking for a person with a prepared sermon but for a prepared person who can preach a sermon.”
The Apostle Paul was a prepared man. He was born in Tarsus, making him a Roman citizen. He was born into a Jewish family, making him a Jew. He was educated by the best teachers, became a noted scholar of the Old Testament, earned the title of Pharisee and expressed his leadership role by hunting down and killing followers of Christ. His conversion was
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