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GOSPEL READINESS

Acts 26:24 - 27:8 | Part 51

 


 

26:24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” 30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” 27:1 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. 4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5 And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

 

Acts Breakdown:

Theme: Believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ among both Jews and Gentiles, in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

  • Paul’s Arrest in Jerusalem (21:17-23:35)

    • The section ends with Paul being delivered to the governor Felix (23:23-35)


  • The Witness in Caesarea (24:1-26:32)

    • Paul appears before Felix (24:1-27)

    • Paul appeals to Caesar (25:1-12)

    • Festus presents the case to King Agrippa II (25:13-22)

    • Paul witnesses to Agrippa II (25:23-26:32)


  • The Witness in Rome (27:1-28:31)

    • Paul journeys to Rome by sea (27:1-44)


[From last week – Paul’s Defense and Witness – Jesus Talking to Paul] 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts. 26:16-23)

26:24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”

The Gospel Denier: Porcius Festus, Governor of Judea.

  • Not Jewish and not familiar with the intricacies of Jewish culture as Felix was.

  • Upon hearings Paul’s witness of Jesus Christ, Festus diagnoses Paul with madness.

25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

What is Paul’s response? “I’m not talking crazy Festus, I’m speaking the truth.”

Paul’s Message: “People! You’re living in darkness. You’re under the power of Satan. Repent of your evil ways and turn to Jesus, Son of God, the light in the darkness for the forgiveness of sins. Then live consistently according to your contrite repentance, so others may see and believe!”

Some of us have no qualms about communicating this message to the world around!

  • Great, but how’s your tone? What’s the posture of your heart in that moment?

Effectual Calling – Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

By God’s grace, we’ve been shown the truth. Let’s remember that!

Let’s not weaponize the truth, as is too common today.

My prayer for myself, and you, is that we be like our Savior:

  • He was always truthful.

  • With some, firm.

  • With others, gentle.

  • But loving towards all.

26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”

After assuring Festus of his right mind, Paul identifies that his true audience is King Agrippa, not him.

As a new governor, Festus is clearly more concerned with gaining favor with his new constituents, which included the Jewish leaders, than being an instrument of Roman law and order.




The Gospel Skeptic: King Agrippa II, Roman Client of a greatly reduced “kingdom” which did NOT include jurisdiction over Judea and Samaria as his predecessors did.

• Roman Client – Basically, a Kingdom economically, politically, and militarily subordinate to the Roman Empire.

• “A bad dude.” -Pastor Daniel Duce.


Paul confronts Agrippa’s religiosity.


Agrippa’s Situation:

  • Has likely heard about the Way through his religious cronies, e.g. High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem.

  • Attended the public readings in the Temple/synagogues.

  • Attended the prayer meetings.

  • Given to the temple treasury and alms to the poor.

Paul asks, do you believe what the prophets of God proclaimed about the Messiah?


Nominal Christianity or Cultural Christianity is alive and well still today. Those who, like Agrippa, are “undecided” regarding Jesus and who he said he is.


When we elevated anything, even inherently good things, over our affections for Christ, it is sinful.


Jesus Christ has strong words about judgement for these lukewarm people, these bad fish (Mat. 13), these goats among sheep (Mat. 25). This is serious to Jesus.


You can’t make a fool of Lord God Almighty. Please, make a decision! Choose Christ!


28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”

Agrippa’s response was more quippy (mocking) and dismissive; than sincere.

29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

The Gospel Proclaimer: The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus).

In what kind of state is Paul?

Paul shows resolved confidence as he stands trial.

Paul has a firm and sure-footed faith.

It’s not that Paul’s faith during actual trials and tribulations is rock solid, but that the object of his faith is rock solid.


[Refrain]

On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand:

All other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

(Hymn: Solid Rock (1834). Author: Edward Mote)



How did Paul get there?

A few observations from Acts 26:16-18:


1.) Paul understands God’s purpose for him (v.16)

  • 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,


2.) Paul trusts in God’s protection (v.17)

  • 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you


3.) Paul is confident in God’s message (v.18)

  • 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.


Of Paul’s three defense speeches, this one gives the most detailed exposition of the gospel.

We can learn about to be better evangelists by not just studying WHAT Paul shares, but HOW he shares God’s message.

We don’t need to be “original” in that sense.

We have to be in God’s word, to know God’s message, to then be able to effectively share it with those that will believe and become God’s people.

30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

27:1 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. 4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5 And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

It seems like the people Paul was addressing did not come to faith in Jesus.

And you know what, that’s okay. Paul’s purpose was to witness. Not save! The Lord God through the Holy Spirit does that.

Paul is not acquitted. Paul remains in chains without just cause. And although these passages foreshadow the kind of voyage to lays ahead, Paul knows that whatever is ahead of him is God’s will and I think Paul finds rests in that.

When darkness veils his lovely face,

I rest on his unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand:

All other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

(Hymn: Solid Rock (1834). Author: Edward Mote)


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