Summary: God over-turned and overcame the opposition of the Jews and the Romans allowing Paul’s worst time to become His best enduring legacy. Challenge - Can we, like Paul trust and obey God even when our best efforts for Him seem to initially fail?
Turning Your Worst Times to Your Best Legacy (Acts 22)
We see a lot of reality shows on TV today but perhaps my favorite is Bridezilla. It amazes me how what should be the best time of a young woman’s life turns out to be her worst legacy. The show chronicles the life and experiences of young brides as they prepare for their weddings in a full display of their fury, hysteria and controlled obsessed fashion. Instead of the greatest day of their life, the preparations up to the wedding bring out the worst in the bride as she loses her self-control in a myriad of sad and humorous displays of anger, rage and generally bizarre antics. One bride became so incensed as her maid of honor for dropping her cake that it seemed that the whole wedding was in jeopardy.
In contrast Paul the apostle took one of the worst times of his life, being hauled before a Roman court to be on trial, and turned it into his most shining moment. Paul leaves a legacy of how not to whine but to shine in the midst of our darkest hour. Consider the major points of Paul’s appeal.
1. Paul speaks in a conciliatory tone using Aramaic to appeal to the patriotic pride of all conservative Jews in the national language of the day. Learn to speak in terms that will appeal to the heart as well as to the heads of your listeners. Remember that you are not only responsible for what you intend to say but also considering the effects your communications will have. (vs 1,2) Notice, "When they heard he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect they became even more quiet."
2. Paul identifies with his audience by indicating his experience to be exactly like their own. He implies that his disposition and training were such as would not lead to change with an adequate cause. (vs 3)
a. He declares himself to be a true Jew by birth, by training and by conviction.
b. He discusses Jewish law by mentioning his own strict adherence.
c. He describes his zeal, as the Jews have, even though he implies theirs is mistaken.
3. Paul adduces the proof of his identification with the Jews by his former persecuting ways.
a. It involved women as well as men
b. It extended even to death
c. It included Damascus, a city far from Jerusalem
d. He cites Caiaphas, the high priest, as his witness
4. Paul describes his conversion through a vision that could only occur through a supernatural intervention by God. (vs 6-11)
a. God’s actions alone could account for the change in his life.
b. The time of day was noon, but the heavenly light was all the more striking and authentic
c. Paul describes Anaianas, a man devout of the law, an orthodox Jew, as a credible messenger. Here was a man who was most unlikely to do something that opposed to Judaism. (vs 12)
d. God appointed you to know His will and see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. (vs 14)
e. Delineation of Divine purpose (vs 14,15) proves that Paul had been chosen to know His will and to see the Just One.
f. Paul was first invited to come and see and hear then to tell. We all should follow this pattern in our testimonies and ministries. There cannot be a testimony without first having a test.
5. Paul is given directions to be baptized.(vs 16)
a. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality
b. The Greek words having called on the name of the Lord indicate that one is not saved by the physical act but by faith in asking for forgiveness and cleansing through the Lord Jesus Christ’s atonement.
c. Baptism is not a mere mechanical rite that can bestow forgiveness. It is a sign and expression of that attitude, and spiritual reality that has already taken place in the heart. (Rom 10:9-11) Baptism is an expression of the attitude of repentance and faith which is the sole condition for salvation. (Eph. 2:8,9)
6. Paul’s commission happens in the Jerusalem temple. (vs 17-21)
a. Paul honored the spot where the trance, vision and commission happened. The details of our commissioning should be delineated, described and declared.
b. God spoke to Paul and gave a sight and a sound to show that the Lord was the speaker not an intermediary
c. God gave a divine appeal for haste, indicating danger that the Lord attached to Paul’s presence in Jerusalem. The Lord knows when we are in dangerous territory and He wants to give warnings. It was not that Paul was wrong in going to Jerusalem but that radical changes in his life had caused revulsion of feeling in respect to him.