Summary: 1. Talk about your life before you met the Lord (vs. 4-5; 9-11). 2. Mention how God got your attention (vs. 12-13). 3. Share what the Lord has said to you (vs. 14-16). 4. Bring up the basics of the gospel (vs. 17-23). 5. Talk about your walk with the Lord (vs. 16; 19-20).
How to Tell Our Christian Story - Part 2
The Book of Acts - Part 85
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 31, 2015
*Last week we began to focus on how to give our Christian testimonies, and tonight, in Acts 26, the Apostle Paul will give us some more help. Remember that back in Acts 21, Paul had arrived in Jerusalem. He went there to worship the Lord, and to deliver a generous love offering for the poor Christians in the city.
About a week later, Paul was almost killed by a mob of Christ-hating Jews. He was rescued by Roman soldiers, but also put under arrest. Then Paul was transferred to the governor's headquarters in Caesarea, mostly for his own safety. By the end of Acts 24, Paul had been in custody for two whole years, even though he was totally innocent of any wrong doing.
*By that time, Paul had already gone through at least 3 trials. And in tonight's Scripture, Paul went through the fourth trial for his life. With this background in mind, let's read Paul's testimony from Acts 26:1-23.
*Tonight, I want you to think about five minutes that can change eternity. Church: That's what our Christian testimony can do. A few minutes, and a few sentences from us can change someone else's destiny forever. That's why God wants us to learn how to give our Christian testimonies.
*In these verses Paul stood before King Agrippa and the new Roman governor Festus. Paul was on trial for his life, but he gladly used this crisis as an opportunity to share his Christian testimony. And Paul shows us what to do.
1. First: Tell a little about your life before you met the Lord.
*Tell a little of your life story before you got saved. Paul began to share his story in vs. 4-5, when he said:
4. "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
5. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."
*Then in vs. 9-11, Paul admitted how messed-up and misguided he had been. There Paul said:
9. "I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
11. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
*God reminds us here that it is important for us to admit that we are sinners. We don't want to give off a holier-than-thou attitude. We don't want people to think that somehow, we deserved our salvation. That's why we need to admit that we are sinners.
*Now, we don't have to go into all the gory details. And the best testimonies don't have a lot of gory details, because by the grace of God, you got saved before you got into all of that mess. It's a lot better to get saved at 6 than 26.
*If you got saved as a kid in VBS, hopefully you avoided a lot of the junk some of us stumbled into. But all of us are sinners. We were all born with a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. And we need to admit that we are sinners who needed to be saved.
*Professor Carlyle Marney helps us understand. One day a student asked: "Dr. Marney, where was the Garden of Eden?" The wise old professor put down his pen, turned to the college freshman and replied: "I can tell you exactly. In Tennessee, 215 South Elm St. in Knoxville, Tennessee." "Ah, c'mon, you're kidding me," said the student. "It's supposed to be somewhere in the Middle East, isn't it?"
*"Well, you couldn't prove it by me," Dr. Marney replied. "For it was there on Elm Street, when I was a boy, that I stole a quarter out of Mama's purse. I ran to the store, and bought a bag of peanuts clusters, and ate it as fast as I could. Afterward, I was so ashamed that I came back home to 215 Elm St. and hid in the closet. Mama found me and asked, 'Why are you hiding? What have you done?'"
*Commenting on that story, Pastor Wesley Tracy later asked, "Do you need any help locating your own Eden? It's the place where you first betrayed the noble, the good and God. Your Eden was that situation in which you discovered that you suffered from the deadly spiritual disease called sin." (1)