In today’s passage from the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul is on trial for talking about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The Jewish leaders are angry at what they consider his blasphemous behavior and they want him dead. Now Paul is testifying on his own behalf to King Aggripa, the governor, and others who are present.
In his testimony, Paul states that he is happy (v. 2), even in his current circumstance of trouble, because of Christ. This joy and hope in Christ propel him to continue his journey of preaching and teaching about Jesus’ resurrection. His simple, three-part story of redemption can inspire us to have our own “testimonies” prepared to show others how Jesus has changed our lives.
Tell others how you were before you were saved.
Paul tells the officials that he is well known as a Pharisee of the strictest sect of Jews (v. 5). He then explains the opposition he once felt and pursued toward Christianity:
“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 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. 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.” Acts 26:9-11
What’s your story? Are you willing to thoroughly examine the sin of your past and admit how things were before Christ transformed you?
We can own up to the old garbage in our lives, knowing that while some of it should be tossed and forgotten, God can transforms some of it into something useful to change us and help us to grow.
Pastor Miles compared mistakes and sins of the past to the garbage that we throw away. Some of our garbage goes into the landfill to decay, but some of it is actually recyclable, sent off to a plant to be made useful again. We can own up to the old garbage in our lives, knowing that while some of it should be tossed and forgotten, God can transforms some of it into something useful to change us and help us to grow.
Tell them how you encountered Christ and decided to believe in and follow Him.
Paul recounts how he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. He tells the officials about the incredible details and the intensity of his experience:
“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 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. 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.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 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.’” Acts 26:12-16
You may not have been knocked down by a bright light on the road, but every encounter with Jesus is powerful and worth sharing. Think about the details of your own experience and what it was like for you to finally believe in Him.
Tell them how Christ has transformed you and how your life is different now.
Paul ends his testimony by explaining his new mission and ministry.
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 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.” Acts 26:19-20
He also issues a challenge to the king himself. Even while giving testimony in court, his concern is the salvation of the officials and bystanders before him.
“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. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Acts 26:26-27
You can share your transformation just as Paul does. Tell others about the healing you have experienced (physically, emotionally, socially), about the peace and hope that you have, and about how your life has been bettered by following Christ.
Paul’s court defense is so persuasive, that in verse 28, King Agrippa replies, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” (By the way, Pastor Miles argued that almost receiving eternal life is about as good as almost entering the water when you jump off of a tall diving board. )
As Paul demonstrates in Acts 26, sharing your testimony does not have to be complicated or scary. It is simply a three-part story of the powerful change you have experienced by knowing Christ. Think about your own story and get your three parts down so that you will always be prepared to share about the hope you have in Jesus! (1 Peter 3:15)