Acts 26:1-18: An Unusual Evangelistic Opportunity
February 20, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Leviticus 14-15, Psalm 42, Matthew 19:1-15, Acts 26:1-18
Paul now (finally, in a sense) has a full-orbed opportunity to defend himself. How will he do it? As is characteristic of the man, he uses this opportunity to preach the gospel. He does it by means of telling the story of how he personally encountered Christ, was called to be his apostle, and the message and the life to which Paul was called, and which therefore he is sharing. We read in this section the first part of Paul’s defense, which emphasizes this initial call of God to Paul along the Damascus Road. What can we learn from Paul’s defense?
First, never waste an opportunity! Rather than merely defend himself in a legal or dry sense, Paul utilizes this moment to tell the story of his life in such a way that points to Christ. Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Paul’s opportunity was being on trial. When would he next get a chance to preach to Agrippa? Probably never. So he seized the opportunity with both hands. Maybe your opportunity is equally unexpected. A moment of trial. Of accusation. Of difficulty. Rather than cursing the darkness, can you shine light into that darkness?
Second, take Paul’s teaching as that of an apostle, and the inspired word that God breathed through him as God’s Word. The story of Paul’s apostleship, here recounted again, once more shows us that Paul truly was an apostle, and that therefore his writings are to be taken with the authority of an apostle commissioned directly by Christ. Too often have people put a barrier between Paul and Christ; but here—in this story—we once again see that Paul’s letters are to be written as words commissioned by Christ himself.
Third, stay as clear about what the gospel is and does as Paul was clear about what the gospel is and does. He was called:
To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
Each of these statements is critically important, and wonderfully clear. The gospel moves people
- From darkness to light
- From the power of Satan to God
So the effect of the gospel is to move people from one realm to another realm. And then the gospel is so that people
- May receive forgiveness of sins
- A place among those who are sanctified
So God through the gospel both forgives sins and also establishes our sanctification or justification.
And all this happens:
- By faith
So Paul tells his story and clarifies what the gospel is in so doing. May we also be able to tell our story, make the most of every opportunity, and point people to this one true gospel of Jesus Christ received by faith!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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