Paul replied, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains." Acts 26:29
The Apostle Paul was a man who knew story of his conversion well. Throughout the book of Acts, Paul shares his story over and over again. We see one of the best descriptions of this in Acts 26 when Paul was on trial before King Agrippa for his faith in Christ. When facing a trial because of his faith, Paul used this trial as an opportunity to share Jesus with the Roman government.
The story that Paul shares includes what his life was like before he met Jesus, the circumstances around how he became a follower of Christ, and then the difference Christ made in his life. Before he met Jesus, Paul explained that His life was dedicated to ending Christianity by putting Christians in prison and condemning them to death. Next, Paul talked about His encounter with Christ. Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians when a bright light came upon him and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 26:14). It was Jesus' voice from heaven calling out to him. Jesus told him that he was now going to be His servant and called him to share his faith with people all over the world. Finally, during his speech, Paul talked about the difference Christ made in his life. From the moment Christ changed his life, Paul dedicated his life to going around sharing his faith in God and bringing many people to faith in Him as well. God had saved Paul and brought about a radical difference in his life, and he was not afraid to share his story.
Has God radically transformed your life? Was your life forever changed when you encountered Him? Friends, this news is too good not to share. When we share these stories, we must share them confidently! Practicing our stories can help us share our stories boldly with confidence.
Yesterday, your challenge was to write out your story of how God transformed your life. This story can include what your life was like before Christ, how you became a Christian, and what your life has been like after becoming a Christian. If you have not written down your story, take time to do that now. Next, practice telling your story. As you practice, you will become more confident in sharing your story, and you will be better prepared to share your story with others.
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.”
So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
“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. If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. In 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! Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, 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. Many 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.
“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We 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.’
“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now 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. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to 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.’
“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”
Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”
Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”