- When did you last talk to someone about what Jesus Christ means to you?
- How often do we “give-away our faith?
- How really effective are we about witnessing?
Here in chapter 22 … Paul ‘s addresses the Jews at the Antonia Fortress – it was a citadel, for the Roman government to keep the peace on the Temple area. The facility was destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It was located on the North-Western corner of the Temple Mount. What happens here is a fantastic illustration of what is involved in an effective Christian witness.
Chapter 21 – (last week) Paul has been brutally arrested – the whole city is aroused – – dragged from the temple – they wanted to kill him – the whole city is in an uproar…”get rid of him!” But _ God is so faithful. He asked the commander’s permission – to be able to speak to the people. What He does in this chapter is a model for us that will work today… we call this kind of presentation our “personal testimony”. Every Christian here today should be able to give one….
A Personal Testimony has 3 points:
- What I was before I became a Christian
- When and how I became a Christian
- The changes in my life since I became a Christian
So… we have this main 3 part outline….in the midst of sharing that testimony, let’s learn some of the important principles of Paul’s testimony …that we could use!
22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
- By the Palestinian Jews of that day“brothers and sisters” … indicating that he understood their point of view —- he had similar background and training.
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
- He spoke their language The Aramaic speech was commonly used by the Palestinian Jews of that day. If we want people to listen…we must talk their language. We can’t expect people who may know nothing, or very little about Christ or the Christian way, to understand or respond to the numerous words and phrases that we Christians use so freely among ourselves. For example: “believer” they hear only ”accept as a truth”. (believing as a Christian is life changing!) … How about the word “saved”? I’m sure they want to know what they need to be saved from. “Revival” means an upturn in business. “Repent” means only to be sorry for what you have done… (when it really means a “180” turning our lives the opposite direction from our sins! So…speak their language… communicate…that’s why we have translations etc
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
(Point 1) This is what he was before he became a Christian!)… Paul didn’t use their listening as a time for insult or attack. He tells them they were being zealous for God the same way he was (.3). He talked about what they had in common… he was looking for common ground … a footing on which to build a bridge.
- He is honest with them and let his past be known. He hadn’t always been a follower of Christ – (quite the opposite). For years, he shared the viewpoint of his listeners – total commitment to bringing back to Jerusalem to bring punishment to the people who were following Christ We’re not the “goody-goodys” and they the “bady badys” – ALL NEED SALVATION
(Point 2) When and How I became a Christian!
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understandthe voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
- Paul is his testimony spoke about himself…but he made it plain that Christ was the top man! As we share this part of our testimony, we must get the focus on what Jesus Christ has done! He must be featured in our testimony, So Paul gives details of Christ’s actions on that Damascus road – he recalls in great detail the work of the Lord. He gives credit on how a godly Jew named Ananias who helped him. In vs. 15, when he talks about “all men” instead of Gentiles…or he didn’t even say that Ananias was a Christian (they would immediately shut him off). He model’s for us this adage – ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH
(Point 3) Changes to my life since I became a Christian
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
- Paul always remembered his objective…to tell how God had changed the course of his life. To enable him to do this, he didn’t bring up offensive facts, or rub their faces in it. He just wanted to tell them of God’s saving love.
- Paul was now a witness. He shares with them what he had seen and heard! Dear friends, this is the scope of our testimony… Wha t has God done for…in…and through you lately? Not something 41 years ago…but recently…a personal walk…answered prayers…direction…blessings!
And Paul was tactful. I was told once that if you were tactful, you were nothing but a liar. I don’t believe that…because tactfulness and sincerity will enable us to share with more and more people. Tactfulness must never be at the expense of truth – it gave Paul as much time as possible to share his faith and conversion… BUT THEN COMES VERSE 21….
Paul and the Roman Tribune
22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
- The Jews in Jerusalem might have tolerated a Jewish Christian church as a sect of Judaism…BUT… a church composed of both Jews and Uncircumcised Gentiles was an abomination to Israel … the idea of Gentiles again turned the audience wild with uncontrolled hatred!
- Note this…Paul told the whole truth. Many believers might desire to witness…but tactfully, may never get to the point. When will we deal with sin, repentance, confession, baptism, church, Bible reading, service, etc.
Yes, we can be tactvul… but orur real task is to be FAITHFUL!
- So they decided to flogging would straighten things to appease the Jews. But Paul was used to such treatment. 39 sstrips with a whip or even the Roman rod … a murderous punishment (many died undergoing this. And that’s not all… let me read II Corinthians 11:23-25…
23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Paul Before the Council
30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them
- Paul perceived the will of God
God’s call, his time praying in the temple, Holy Spirit working hard on his soul, etc.
- Paul faced the will of God in his new life.
Leave his traditions, family…he had to share with his own people first…he had to be fervent and motivated….he couldn’t change the will of God…the will of God is resolute…his will is an order…God demands obedience.
The sinners response is often: “I think”…I think that if a fellow lives a good life and does nobody any harm, He will get into heaven OK… another says, I don’t think a merciful God will throw any poor sinner into hell…etc. God is not asking our opinion on His justice, or His mercy, or His way of salvation. HE LAYS IT OUT FOR US THROUGH HIS WORD. What love.. what hope … what a blessing!
- So Paul abandoned his resistance and did the will of God
So should we… where is God leading you today? God knows best… we court sorrow and disaster when we resist His will.
Victory in Jesus “Lead me (through my testimony)… to some soul today