Paul is standing before King Agrippa, telling the king about his conversion experience and the things that Jesus said to Paul when Paul was first saved. If you go back and look at what Jesus said in Acts 26:16-18, you will find it very similar to the great commission that Jesus gave to the other apostles. In what we call the Great Commission Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. In Acts 26:16-18 Jesus said, But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister an a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
What Jesus said to Paul, He said to the other apostles. And He says the same thing to each of us who are believers in Him. It seems as though there is something that Jesus is really concerned about: the spread of the gospel. By the way if you are a believer, it is not optional for you to be involved in the fulfilling of the Great Commission. It is a command from Jesus to you. Paul knew that it was a command. The question is: are you going to be obedient to the command or not? In Acts 26:19 Paul said what his response to the command had been. He said, Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.
Paul called it a heavenly vision because the concept that Christians would be involved in witnessing and spreading the gospel comes from Jesus in heaven. The idea originated in heaven with Jesus and with the Father, and they have passed the idea on to the believers. The question is: are the believers going to obey? Paul looked back on all the years that had passed since Jesus asked him to get going, and Paul said, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. How many believers who have been saved many years could look back to the time when they were saved and make this same statement?
Paul went on to say in Acts 26:20-23, But showed first unto them of Damascus,
and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the
Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for
repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about
to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing
both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets
and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be
the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the
people, and to the Gentiles.
When Paul witnessed, he started at
When Paul was a witness, he told people that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Just a few verses earlier Jesus said that people would be forgiven simply by believing. Why did Paul then emphasize repentance? Because true belief involves repentance. If you have never repented, then you have never believed. If you are going to turn to a holy God by faith in Christ, then that means you are turning from your sinful ways. You turn to a holy God from your sinful ways. If there is no repentance, there is no true biblical saving faith. When there is an awakening and a spiritual revival, there is always a change in what people do. They believe in Christ, and they turn from doing sinful deeds to doing righteous deeds. Faith without works is dead.
The Jews went about to kill Paul because of Pauls witness about Christ. Over the centuries many have been tortured for Christ and imprisoned and killed for Him. It says in Revelation 6:9, And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. One day we will be in heaven with those who suffered such horrible things for the name of Christ. What will we say to them if it turns out that we were too fearful to allow ourselves to be shunned or ostracized in the sufferings that may come to us in our day?
Paul said that he witnessed to small and great. Paul respected those who were considered by society to be small or poor or common. Paul never forgot that Christ died for them, and he cared for their soul. Paul also cared for the rich and the powerful. He respected them also, but he did not fear them to the point of changing his message in their presence. The message was the same whether to small or great, That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.
Notice that Paul said that the gospel that he preached about Christ came from the Old Testament. The New Testament had not been written yet. The New Testament is simply a commentary on the Old Testament anyway, and a further explanation of it, and a greater revelation of the Christ and what He is all about. But if you understand the central theme of the Old Testament, then you will find the message about the Messiah. Notice how Paul described the message that he preached from the Old Testament. Paul said in verse 22 and 23, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead. Paul opened up the Old Testament, and he taught about the Lord Jesus Christ: His sufferings and his resurrection. If you open up the Old Testament and teach about Moses or Abraham or other things instead of Christ, then you might be teachings what the Jews taught two thousand years ago, but you are not teaching what Paul taught. Paul said that he taught none other things but That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead. Some people say more than they ought to say and it takes away from glorifying the name of Christ: too many examples, too much talking of themselves, and too much talking about anyone and anything except Christ.
The Bible says in Acts 26:24-28, And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. The Roman governor thought that perhaps Paul had gone mad, talking of a man who had die on a Roman cross and risen from the dead. He had never heard of such a thing, and to him such an idea could only have come from a crazed mind. But it was different with King Agrippa. King Agrippa had had enough true religious education whereby he knew that the Bible was true. That is the significance of verse 27 where Paul said, King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Believing the Bible to be true always goes hand in hand with believing the gospel. Someone who understands that the writings of the Bible are true is someone who has a good chance of hearing the gospel and being saved. We see in this passage that at least King Agrippa was close to being saved, and that was because he knew the writings of the prophets which come from the Bible are true. One of the reasons that the devil makes such constant attacks against the veracity and accuracy of the Bible is keep people from being saved and to keep them from having true faith.
But King Agrippa did not get saved. He said to Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian. Agrippa believed
the prophets. He had just listened as Paul spoke of meeting Jesus on the road
The Bible says in Acts 26:29-32, And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such a I am, except these bonds. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar. What we see in verse 29 is the same thing that we see elsewhere concerning the Apostle Paul: his great love for lost souls. Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such a I am, except these bonds. In Romans 9:1-3 Paul said, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. In Acts 20:31 Paul said to believers from the city of Ephesus, Therefore watch and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.
How did Paul get such a compassion for lost souls? We know that he got his compassion from the Lord Jesus Christ. No one loves souls as much as Jesus. Jesus came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. Just before His arrest and crucifixion Jesus looked out at the city of Jerusalem and wept over it saying, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest them that are sent unto thee, how often I would have gathered thy children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings; but ye would not.
To emphasize to us how much God loved lost souls, Jesus told us the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-7. Jesus said, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Paul had true love and compassion for lost souls because he learned it from Jesus.
Paul also had love and compassion for lost souls because he learned it from experience. If you wait until you have as much love for souls as Paul had, then you probably will never go. You must obey the Great Commission first, and then as you go and start talking to people about Jesus, you will see firsthand their needy spiritual condition and you will grow in compassion for them. Paul began witnessing about Christ in Damascus and as the years went by, Paul continued to witness. His compassion for lost souls grew the more that he talked to lost souls.
If you are a lost soul, you can be saved if you will turn from your sins and turn to Jesus today.
Copyright; 2004 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved