Friday, April 15, 2011

Acts 26 - The Conversion of Paul

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus into Paul the apostle is, I believe one of the most convincing evidences for the truth of Christianity. I have used it many times during one-on-on witnessing, and have almost always had positive results. Prior to his conversion, Paul had it all. He had power, money, influence, respect within his community, the best education available, and a purpose in life. And then, overnight, he changed from Christianity’s greatest opponent to its greatest proponent. Paul had nothing to gain and everything to lose by becoming a believer in Christ. There was only one, logical reason for him to become a Christian. Because Christianity was true. Because he had encountered the risen Christ.

This week we will be reading Acts 26, where Paul stands before Festus and King Agrippa at Caesarea, two Roman rulers, and tells the story of his conversion. The Jews had falsely accused him of many crimes, and sent him to the Romans to be tried for those crimes, hoping he would be executed. But Paul, despite persecution and unsympathetic listeners, laid out the truth of his conversion and the truth of the gospel clearly and unapologetically. We can learn a lot from his personal testimony. Most importantly, the center-point of Paul’s testimony was not himself, but Christ. Paul’s testimony was not what he had done in his life with Jesus’ help. It was the radical, supernatural change that Christ had done in him. And that is a model we should follow. This week’s outline is below, and I pray it will be a blessing.

We are now just one week away from Mission Good Friday! This will be the third year of the event that grew into Project Ezra. I have heard from a couple members over the past few days that the original Mission Good Friday was their very first time preaching the gospel in the open air. What a huge encouragement that is for me, and I hope for you as well. God has chosen to use this group to lead people into public evangelism ministry, and I pray that you will take this opportunity to participate yourself, and to encourage your friends and church family to participate as well. Easter is the perfect time, since we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ. So go out and proclaim the truth in love. I look forward to seeing your testimonies, pictures, and videos after the event.


Acts 26 tells the story of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the Apostle.

Some people seem to have every reason to want to become a Christian. Paul had every reason not to.

Paul, before his conversion, seemed to have it all. He had power, influence, strong religious faith, respect within the community, the best education available, a good job, and a cause that he could believe in.

Then overnight he threw that all away to join a tiny religious sect, which up until then he had dedicated his time to destroying. He went from traveling his nation to round up Christians to be killed, to traveling the world to start Christian churches. Christianity’s greatest antagonist became Christianity’s greatest missionary, overnight.

What would cause someone to make such a dramatic change? Was Paul just believing a lie? If so, he had no incentive for doing so.

The only reason Paul had for believing Christianity is that it was actually true. The only thing that could have changed Saul to Paul was what he claimed, a supernatural encounter with the living Christ.

So what happened after Paul was converted? He immediately began going to the Jewish people, persuading them and proving from the law and the prophets, the Jewish Bible, that Jesus was the Christ.

Paul was a highly trained scholar who had studied with Gamaliel, possibly the greatest Jewish teacher of the time. He could have seen the truth of who Christ was before, if he had chosen to look

Paul’s reason for rejecting and persecuting Christ was not intellectual. It was moral. Paul chose not to see what was right in front of his face, because his behavior was evil, and his life was comfortable.

If you examine yourselves, with an open mind and a tender conscience, you may find yourself in the same place as Paul.


We are all sinners, moral criminals who have broken God’s law. What’s more, we know we are guilty.

Because we are guilty, and because God is a good God, who will make sure justice is satisfied, we are bound for hell, unless we can pay the sin debt we owe.

Jesus Christ is the only way to God because He, the living God, the creator in the flesh, paid that sin debt.

Jesus death on the cross was not just a good example. It was a payment. He paid the penalty for our sin in His own blood.

The cross is the perfect demonstration of both God’s justice and His mercy. He showed His hatred for sin by punishing it mercilessly. And He showed His love for mankind by putting that punishment on Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross, died a horrific death, and then rose three days later, proving His power over death. Then He ascended into heaven and is seated at God’s right hand, as our advocate, our lawyer for the day of judgment.

All of us will be judged some day. I plead with you to humble yourself before God, repent of your sins and trust in His grace alone to save you.

If you will put your trust in Christ alone then, like Paul, you will be supernaturally transformed by God. He will change your heart and your desires. He will make you more like Him. You will truly be born again.

If God is working in your heart, I encourage you to cry out for His mercy today, and I would love to tell you more about Him. But please, don’t wait. None of us is promised a tomorrow. Get right with God while He has graciously given you time.

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