Summary: This sermon lays out the steps Paul used and we too can use to share our testimony.
A Life Changing Experience
In 1980 when we move to Arkansas I was only 8 years old. But for 8 years I had grown up Dekalb IL. Yes your pastor was born a Yankee. However, since I have lived in Arkansas and Texas for the last 20 years I like to consider myself a Reformed Yankee. I know some people have more graphic description of a Yankee that moves South but let’s just leave it at that.
Moving from one part of the country to another can be very dramatic. Life styles can be very different and it can take some time to get used to the change. I remember when we were moving I was determined to fit right in with Arkansas. So I started rediscovering the ABC’s. Then when I got to our new home I found a little buddy and asked him to teach me how to be a southerner. Well it really wasn’t as difficult as I thought I just had to learn to talk a little slower and blur my syllables. And learn phrases like jaeatyet, yantoo, awight.
It wasn’t until I went back to visit my friends in IL. that I realized the conversion or life changing experience that had taken place. I was different and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. I wouldn’t want to move back for anything. I was happy with this life.
Compared to salvation that life changing experience amounts to very little. But in a way salvation is similar. Along with salvation comes a new way of living a new way of talking and a new way of experiencing life. When you give your life to the Lord there should be in a sense a cultural difference between the old life and new.
In this text we find Paul in prison because the Jews did not understand or appreciate his way of life. As he stands before King Agrippa, Paul explains to the King how he came to this place in life. Paul say before I was converted I believed like you, but I had a life changing experience that opened my eyes to the error of my ways, and from that time on I have been a different man. Listen as Paul shares his testimony with King Agrippa and those gathered in the auditorium.
Read Text: Acts 26:1-23
I. Pre-Conversion Experience
As Paul stands to deliver his testimony he begins by reminding those gathered that he was not always the man they see today. What Paul was saying here is, “I was opposed to the very faith I now embrace. I was like you with somewhat of a reputation.” Folks I want you to understand it was an:
A. Indignant Reputation
Everyone has some kind of reputation. Some are good and some are bad. We hear the phrase, “I have a reputation to protect”, sometimes thrown around in jest. Your reputation may be different with different people. I have a reputation for being stubborn. That is a characteristic that many of you could be labeled with also. Some have a reputation for being very generous. Some have a reputation for being mean, ornery, a prankster, or a stick in the mud. Some have a reputation of dependability and some untrustworthy. Reputations can be both a curse and a blessing.
Paul in his testimony says he had an Indignant Reputation in that he was known for two things. One he was a Pharisee of Pharisee’s. Look at verse 4-5. Not only does he admit he was a devout Pharisee but he also says that if anyone were asked they would confirm this to be true. Others knew of Paul’s reputation.
Throughout the Gospels Pharisees were known to be antagonistic toward Jesus. They were overly concerned with fulfilling the literal detail of the Law. They were always questioning and arguing with Jesus looking for a way to discredit Him. In saying this Paul was admitting that at one time he too felt the same way as King Agrippa and the rest of his audience.
Not only was Paul adamant about being a Pharisee he chose to be an adversary of what was referred to as the “Way”… that is, those who followed Jesus. In verse 9 Paul says he thought he should act in a way that was contrary to what Jesus taught. I guess you could say Paul rebelled. This, Paul says was his reputation. Not only did Paul have an indignant reputation he had an Indignant Determination. Look at verse 9.
B. Indignant Determination (Vs. 9 & 11)
When people are very adamant against someone or something it can become a cause or an obligation to defend their beliefs. Paul says in verse 9 “I must” do these things. And in verse 11 he says “often in every Synagogue”. In Paul’s contempt for Jesus and believers he felt he was obligated to go, he “MUST”, into “EVERY Synagogue” and he must go “OFTEN”. The NIV tells us that Paul’s contempt even took him to foreign cities. Now that is determination. But it is determination driven by hatred. And that indignation drove Paul to act out.