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How Close Are You to Becoming a Christian? 

Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

Acts 26

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 2, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. Acts 21 shows the Jews arresting and attacking Paul, but the Romans save him. 
    1. Acts 22 shows him speaking to his Jewish brethren.
    2. Acts 23 shows him speaking to both Jewish and Roman leaders.
    3. Acts 24 shows
      1. the Jews before a Roman governor, making accusations against Paul, and
      2. then his defense before that same governor, and
        1. further meetings he had with that governor,
        2. who favored Paul, but the governor also favored the Jews.
  2. Acts 25 shows the government helping a preacher. 
  3. Acts 26 shows Paul before another government official who favors him. 


  1. Acts 26.1 | Letting a Person Speak for Himself

    1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:

    1. Oh, if only people practiced this today.
    2. How many times do we actually get to hear a person speak for himself?
  2. Acts 26.2–21 | Why People Become Christians 
    1. 26.2–3 | They Know the Way

      2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

      1. Paul gladly defended himself against false accusations.
      2. In this case, the man knew of the customs and questions of the Jews, and
        1. King Agrippa knew of the Way.
        2. I find it easier to talk with someone like him,
          1. then someone who is hostile toward Christianity.
    2. 26.4–5 | People Know Christians

      4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

      1. We have people who know us from our past,
      2. who have also seen our change,
        1. our change in how we live and
        2. our change in our belief system.
          1. We have to be able to do what Paul did,
          2. explain to people, both friendly and unfriendly, why we changed.
    3. Acts 26.6–8 | Striving for the Promise

      6 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

      1. Although Paul changed, he had not changed from God’s original intention.
      2. Paul deviated from the promise of God when he became a Pharisee.
        1. When he became a Christian,
        2. he became what the Hebrew Scriptures taught all along.
          1. However, his fellow-Jews did not truly understand that promise,
          2. leading them to oppose Paul’s preaching and teaching,
            1. although all twelve tribes of Israel served God relentlessly,
            2. night and day, hoping to attain to that promise.
    4. 26.8 | Believe the Resurrection

      8 “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

      1. Suddenly Paul introduced the resurrection to King Agrippa, because
        1. the resurrection of Jesus and our future resurrection
        2. are part of the fulfillment of the promise God first made to Abraham.
      2. Yet, why do people consider the resurrection incredible or unbelievable?
        1. Why do evolutionists believe that God could not raise the dead?
        2. Think about that for a moment:
          1. A dead body once held life cannot rise from the dead, but
          2. non-living materials can make itself come to life!
    5. 26.9–11 | Turning from Former Life

      9 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

      1. Even as Paul thought that he had to do many things contrary to Jesus,
        1. so the secular left, including those
          1. teaching in universities,
          2. reporting the national news,
          3. protesting and rioting in the streets,
        2. think that they must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus.
      2. Doing things contrary to the name of Jesus led Paul
        1. to put the saints in prison,
        2. to vote for the deaths of the saints,
        3. to punish them in all synagogues,
        4. to force them to blaspheme,
          1. filled with rage against them,
          2. that he went outside the Land of Israel to persecute them.
    6. 26.12–18 | A Changing Point

      12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are you, lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

      1. While busy persecuting Christians,
        1. Paul saw a light from heaven,
        2. brighter than the noon sun, and
        3. the light pointed itself right at Paul and his traveling buddies.
      2. Everyone fell to the ground.
        1. Then he heard someone speaking to him in Hebrew,
        2. asking him why he was persecuting the voice,
          1. adding that it was hard for him to kick against the goads.
      3. The Voice knew Paul, but he did not know the Voice.
        1. So Paul asked the identity of the Voice.
        2. Then he received the shock of his life:
          1. The Voice was Jesus.
          2. After the initial shock of seeing a light from heaven
            1. powerful enough to knock him down,
            2. how shocked was he to learn that Jesus was not a fraud,
              1. that Jesus was from heaven and
              2. that He is the truth?
      4. Jesus then explained that Paul would now promote what he persecuted.
        1. Jesus had appeared to Paul to qualify him for this new job, for
        2. he would now be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
    7. 26.19–20 | Obeyed

      19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

      1. How could Paul disobey what he heard straight from heaven?
      2. Immediately, he started declaring
        1. to the people in Damascus where he was headed, and
        2. then back in Jerusalem, and
          1. going throughout Judea, and
          2. even to the Gentiles, for
            1. the promise included them,
            2. telling them all
              1. that they should repent,
              2. that they should turn to God, and
              3. that they should do works showing their repentance.
    8. 26.21–23 | Men Against Him, God for Him

      21 “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

      1. Preaching that Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the promise of Abraham
        1. for both Jew and Gentile,
        2. moved the Jews against Paul,
          1. who seized him and
          2. tried to kill him.
      2. Although they were against him,
        1. God was for him,
        2. helping him and enabling him
          1. to stand that very day,
          2. allowing him to witness what he had seen and heard
            1. to small and great
            2. simply saying what the Prophets and Moses said would come,
              1. namely, that the Christ would suffer,
                1. a concept that they had not grasped yet, and
              2. that He would rise from the dead, and
                1. that Jesus would show the light
                2. to Jews and to Gentiles.
  3. Acts 26.24–27 | Preaching the Truth Is Not a Mental Illness

    24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

    1. The tactic of charging your opponents with mental illness is not new.
      1. A little diversion: Outside of a true biological reason,
        1. how can you tell if someone is mad?
        2. It changes depending upon
          1. what society accepts and
          2. does not accept and
            1. whether insurance pays for it or not.
            2. The best example of that is homosexuality.
              1. It used to be considered a mental illness,
              2. now the world says we have something wrong with us,
                1. if we oppose homosexuality.
      2. Anyway, Festus thought that Paul’s obvious abundant knowledge
        1. led him to lose touch with reality, because
        2. he believed in the resurrection of the dead.
    2. While Festus insulted Paul,
      1. he responded with respect toward Festus,
      2. referring to him as most noble, for
        1. he was a government official, and
        2. he had charge of Paul’s fate.

          12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
          The LORD has made them both.
          (Pro 20.12)
    3. Paul explained that he was not mad, but spoke words of truth and reason.
      1. He knew that King Agrippa knew of these things associated with Jesus.
      2. Then Paul asked whether Agrippa believed the Prophets, for
        1. we must believe what they wrote,
        2. if we hope to be saved,
          1. although historically many in the church through the centuries
          2. have dismissed that part of the Bible as not applying to us.
            1. Paul believed that we need to believe what they wrote.
            2. Can I be a Christian without knowing the Prophets?
    4. Watch what happens next.
  4. Acts 26.28–29 | Prophets Lead to Becoming a Christian

    28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

    1. Agrippa believed what the Prophets said and what Paul said.
      1. That included the promise and
      2. Jesus, His resurrection, and our resurrection.
    2. Agrippa’s belief was leading him to become a Christian.
      1. Paul reminded Timothy that the Scriptures,
        1. which included the Prophets
        2. when Timothy was young,
      2. led him to wisdom leading to salvation,

        14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2Ti 3.14–15).

        35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him (Acts 8.35).

    3. Agrippa becoming a Christian was the very thing that Paul wanted.
      1. He wanted everyone, including his false accusers and Festus,
      2. to become Christians.
  5. Acts 26.30–32 | Agrippa Wanted to Release Paul

    30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

    1. They all conferred and the king saw Paul’s innocence, but
    2. since Paul had appealed to Caesar,
      1. they had to follow the law of the Romans and
      2. take Paul to Caesar.


  1. Know the Promise 
  2. Know the Resurrection 
  3. Know the Prophets 
  4. Know Jesus 
  5. Obey Jesus