Summary: Part two of a two part sermon about Paul’s defense/testimony before Festus and Agrippa in Acts 25-26
Text: Acts 25:13-26:32, Title: Strange…A God That Can Raise the Dead, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/23/09, AM
A. “…well my plan is to convince people that all they have to do to get to heaven is to be a religious person.”
B. Background to passage: Recap briefly how we here. One of the responsibilities of a new ruler who is sending someone for trial in Rome, was to include an explanation of the charges and proceedings leading up to the trial in Rome. But being new to Judea, and really not understanding the charges or the culture around them, Festus just didn’t know what to write (v. 27). So when Agrippa II and his sister Bernice came to town to greet the new ruler, Festus seized the day for some local input. Agrippa II was the only surviving son of Agrippa I who was struck down in Acts 12 for stealing God’s glory. He was part Jewish and ruled the territory to the north of Judea once give to Philip after the death of Herod the Great. His reputation was one of piety in religion, incestuous sexual immorality, and expertise in Jewish/Roman relations. And he had probably heard of the stir in the region over the Christians, and maybe over Paul, so he wanted to hear him speak. (One of the dangers of being a powerful speaker is that people may hear, and be entertained without believing (this happened between Ben Franklin and George Whitefield.) And since this wasn’t a real trial with attorneys and all the legalities, Paul seized the opportunity to share the gospel
C. Main thought: We are going to take this sermon in two parts, and this morning’s part will be Paul’s convers.
E. Walking in Newness of Life (v. 19-23)
1. Paul then explains his life change following his encounter with Jesus. He says that he acted in obedience. Immediately he began to preach that Jesus was the messiah to those in Damascus and Jerusalem. He did spend some time in Nabataea Arabia in study and preparation, but again this was obedience. Then He began proclaiming Christ among the Gentiles. No one had to tell Paul to be in church or to read his bible or to pray. It was born from a transformed heart. And his message was that they must turn and become obedience to their new Lord, and bring forth fruit that is befitting of repentance. Of course, he became the church’s first missionary, spread the gospel all over the world at the time, and eventually took it to Rome. And because of his labor, the largest known world empire became “Christian” in about 200 years.
3. Illustration: "The old nature must be cast aside as a complete wreck, and good for nothing, and the man made a new creation in Christ Jesus. But willing as we may be to admit this truth, few lessons are harder to learn." “Revival: The Gospel of Addition.” In it, Patrick Morley said the following, “The American gospel has evolved into a gospel of addition without subtraction. It is the belief that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior… A changed life is one that has added Christ and subtracted sin, that attracts a world weary of worn-out words. Obedience is the proof.” Story about the employee and the unbelieving boss after the employee got saved, story about the church that did a Tithing Demonstration Sunday, and the offering was 6X the usual, tell about Larry Whitehouse getting mad because I preached from Matt 7:21 about the possibility of people in the church really being lost, had a pastor tell me this week that he has asked people to step down from leadership positions because of things that they posted on Facebook exposing their true selves in pictures,
4. Obedience is a solid evidence of genuine faith. Those who bear no fruit are cut away and cast into the fire. Fruitless Christians may be false Christians. This doesn’t mean that you must be perfect since conversion like “sinless since ’64,” but that the process of sanctification and transformation should be on a steady track toward the image of Jesus Christ. We have a great portion of the church today that has no fruit, is not transformed, still spiritually dead (although outwardly religious), having no desire for spiritual things, simply carrying out the status quo, that probably really aren’t saved. And we are so scared to tell them that, but Jesus, Paul, Hebrews, Revelation, James and John are really clear. This is not to make you doubt unnecessarily, but simply to proclaim a genuine gospel, that will not produce people simply inoculated to Jesus. Down here you must first convince people that they really don’t know Jesus, whereas in the north that is not where the battle lies, and the lifestyles are the same. And they say that dumbest things to try to defend or justify their family members who give absolutely no evidence of belief, especially at funerals. We must stop soft-selling the gospel, and get it right! If there is no change, there was no Jesus! Don’t believe what you want in spite of the bible. Warn your children, grandchildren, fellow church members, coworkers, fellow student.