Faithlife Sermons

Encountering Christ Changes Everything

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1Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.” So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: 2“I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently! 4“As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. 6Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. 7In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! 8Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead? 9“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. 12“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’ 15“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.” And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. 17And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

I – Paul’s Defense. (V.1-3)

A. He was given an opportunity to defend himself. (Continuing the

solemnity of the occasion already set by the ceremonious arrival of the

distinguished audience and Festus’s presentation of the case (25:23-

27), the king now granted Paul permission to speak on his own


B. He discusses his fortunate circumstance. (Paul was not defending

himself before charges but rather offering his apologia, his personal

testimony for his life as a Christian. Paul noted that he felt fortunate

to be appearing before Agrippa. He pointed to what was the essential

factor in the whole occasion. As the Jewish king, he would be familiar

with Jewish customs and points of dispute. He was also a thoroughly

Hellenistic king and lived a Roman lifestyle. He was thus in the unique

position to give his opinion on both the Jewish and Roman legal

aspects of Paul’s situation. Paul was cleared of everything except for

teaching against the Jewish law (21:28). Festus knew himself to be

incompetent in such matters. Agrippa was in a better position to

judge. This is why Paul felt fortunate to be able to defend himself in

front of Agrippa. As a defense and as a witness to Agrippa.)

II – Paul’s Faithfulness to the Jewish Hope. (V.4-8)

A. He remained a true Jew. (He was brought up in strict Judaism, reared

among his own people, even in Jerusalem and had been a Pharisee

and had lived according to the strictest observances of the Jewish

religion. In tis speech before Agrippa Paul made the connection that

his Pharisaic background closely linked up with his faith in the


B. Hope in God’s promises. (Paul references to his being a Pharisee

(26:5) and to his being on trial because of his hope in God’s promises

to the fathers (v.6) are closely linked. The “hope” was realized in the

resurrection (cf. 24:15). Paul remained a true Jew. However, it was

precisely his faith in the resurrection of Jesus that most pointed to his

fidelity to Judaism because in the resurrection Israel’s hope in God’s

promises had been fulfilled.)

C. The Jews believed fervently in this hope. (In their worship they prayed

for its fulfillment day and night. The hope was shared by all “Twelve

Tribes” – all of Israel. What was inconceivable for Paul was that the

Jews, who so fervently prayed for God’s fulfillment of the promises,

would accuse him precisely because of his conviction that they had

indeed now been realized in Christ. Gentiles like Festus could not

comprehend the idea of resurrection at all. Except for the Sadducees,

the Jews believed in resurrection, it was Christ’s resurrection that Paul

had in mind, and all of them – Jew and Gentile alike – found it

incredible! It was incredible and still is today! God raised Jesus from

the dead and He will raise us as well. We must have the same fervent

belief in this hope!)

III – Paul’s Persecution of Christ. (V.9-11)

A. He used to be opposed to Christ. (Not only had Paul been a Pharisee

and a strict observant Jew, but he also had been a persecutor of the

Christians. Like those Jews who were now accusing him, so he too

once felt that it was God’s will for him to do everything possible to

oppose the name of Christ.)

B. He cast his vote to condemn Christians. (His allusion to his vote meant

that he was fully in agreement with the verdict and consented to

condemn Christians to death. Paul’s description of his fervor as a

persecutor finally reached its peak: he even pursured them in the

cities outside Jerusalem (v.11b). One immediately recalls Damascus.

That city was likely the limit of his persecutions and also where they


IV – Paul’s Encounter With Christ. (V.12-18)

A. It is useless to fight against the will of God. (Jesus asked Paul on the

Damascus Road when he encountered Him why was he persecuting

Him. In persecuting Christ, Paul was fighting the will of the One who

had set him apart from birth (cf. Gal. 1:15). Like a beast of burden

kicking his master’s goads, he would only find the blows more severe

with each successive kick. He was fighting the will of God (cf. Acts

5:39). It was a futile, senseless task. It is for us as well! It is the

will of God that all be saved. We cannot stop the will of God. He is

looking for us to assist in His will and not hinder His will!)

B. His commission was from Christ. (The emphasis in this third

conversion account of Paul is decidedly on the commission given Paul

by the risen Jesus in vs. 16-18. Indeed, this commission constitutes

the center and climax of Paul’s entire speech. Christ’s commission to

Paul is given in words reminiscent of God’s commissioning of the Old

Testament prophets. Like Ezekiel following his vision of the Lord, Paul

was directed to rise and stand on his feet (v.16; cf. Ezek 2:1). The

emphasis on the Lord’s sending him is characteristic of the call of the

prophets (cf. Ezek 2:3), as is the promise to rescue him from his

enemies (cf. Jer 1:8). God promises us the same thing! He

commissions us to be like the prophets and He promises to rescue us

from the enemy!!)

C. He is to turn people from darkness to light. (Paul’s task is described

with two words. He was first to be a “steward” (hyperetes). The word

emphasizes his relationship to his Lord. He was to be one who served

his Master and was faithful to his Mater’s commission. The second

word is “witness” (martys). A witness bears testimony to the things

he has seen and heard. Paul had seen the risen Lord and heard his

commission. His whole story in Acts has shown his faithful witness –

before Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Romans, peasants,

philosophers, and kings. Ultimately, the role of witness is the key role

for every disciple. All who have encountered the risen Christ are

commissioned to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). The content of that witness

is summarized in v. 18, in language reminiscent of the servant psalms

of Isa 42:6 and 49:6. Christ is the servant of God who opens the eyes

of those in darkness, who brings light to the nations. To proclaim him

is to bring the light of the gospel! The gospel brings light, opens one’s

eyes to the truth in Christ. Paul describes this as a turning from the

power of Satan to the power of God! It is this power that changes our

lives forever!!!! Just as it did for Saul who became Paul when he

encountered JESUS on the Damascus Road!)

Reflect on…

Slide: Paul’s Defense.


Slide: Paul’s Faithfulness to the Jewish Hope.


Slide: Paul’s Persecution of Christ.

But, most importantly…

Slide: Paul’s Encounter With Christ.


Last Slide: Encountering Christ Changes Everything! (It makes us go from darkness to light and takes us from the power of Satan to the power of God! Satan’s power is temporary. God’s power is eternal! I don’t want temporary power!! That is what sin offers (addictions, worldly actions, thrills of life, etc.) I want everlasting power!!!! That is what Jesus Christ offers (The Greatest addiction, action and thrill!) It lasts forever!!!! Just like Paul’s encounter with Christ changed him…It will change you. It has changed me! It is the only thing that last forever!! It is the Greatest High and Greatest Power ever!!! I Got It!! How about You? Are you sharing it?)

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