Acts 25-26: Disciples making disciples
Continuing the Acts Series, pastor David preaches on Acts 25-26 and the powerful testimony before King Agrippa. Through key scenes and characters, this sermon brings us many lessons involving God's sovereignty, the importance of staying focused on the mission, and how difficult circumstances can become divine appointments.
Good morning. I'm sure you've got your Bibles with you uh whether that's the old-fashioned book or the um up-to-date phone or device or some of you may have even memorized it all the way through but we whichever you're at if you'd like to to um to ax you know we're just about getting to the um to the end of this act series and uh so next week we're going to uh going to finish the book of Acts and over holidays we've got a a couple of uh of other sermons and then next term we're into our into our integrated study for uh for for the year and so Riders are busy riding those studies some have already done them and um so they'll be there study booklets and whatever so make sure that you start thinking about whether you're a part of a group or forming a group to be that to be a part of that integrated study we'll be looking at different characters in The Bible and so it'd be an exciting time and I'm looking forward to it as well well as I said we're just about finished the book of Acts and we've been following through this theme in Acts about disciples making disciples if we wanted to be even more accurate we'd be saying disciples who make this or make disciples making disciples who make disciples because it's this ongoing thing and so we are sort of reflecting or having this theme running through acts about about disciple making and we know that that's the key responsibility of the church that's our responsibility that's our primary task that's run about it's about making disciples and there's been these couple of key verses we're aware of in Acts 1 8 where uh Jesus speaking to the disciples is you'll be my Witnesses and then he outlines Jerusalem Judea Samaria to the ends of the Earth and as we've been going through the book of Acts we've been following through how the the church was born in in Jerusalem had spread to Judea Samaria and we're really into the ends of the Earth and that'll be really the ends of the Earth next week when we look at the end of the end of the book of Acts but associated with that is this Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples in Matthew 28 18-20. where Jesus said to his disciples he said this so I'm giving you a command and the command is this the command is to make disciples and how you to make disciples make disciples by those three three parts of doing it by going baptizing and teaching obedience to the word of God and so also through the book of Acts we've seen this thing running through about how the Disciples of Jesus have been going they've been baptizing and they've been teaching people to be obedient to the commands of Jesus so this is refresher this is what we've been on about for the last however many weeks or months as we've been going through the book of Acts and say today we are looking at this uh this part today we're uh where Paul he's been doing it tough and he's before this character called King Agrippa and uh we're covering this whole section from Acts chapter 25 verse 13 through to chapter 26 verse 32. they are Unlimited in the time that's allocated to me so I can't read all of that so I do want to read just a part of it to you so from Acts chapter 25 from verse 13 it says a few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at caesarea to pay their respects to Festus since they were spending many days The Festus discussed Paul's case with the King with the King he said this is a man here or there is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner when I went to Jerusalem the chief priest and Elders of the the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned and I told him it's not the Roman custom to hand over any man before he has faced his accusers and has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges when they came here with me I did not delay the case but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in when his accusers got up to speak they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected instead I had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive I was at a loss how to investigate such matters so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges and when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the emperor's decision I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar that Agrippa said to Festus I'd like to hear this man myself he replied tomorrow you will hear him most of the time then from then on is Paul before a gripper and a big slab of that is where Paul is giving his testimony of how he came to Faith and what's the outcome of all of this go down to chapter 26 and verse 30 says the king that's king of gripper Rose after listening to Paul the king Rose and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them they left the room and while talking with one another they said this man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment gripper said to Festus this man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar we know that God always blesses the reading of his word around about the year 1380 a man was born who um later became became an important person or wrote a book which this book which was written in the early 1400s is still available today the book is called the imitation of Christ and it's by a man by the name of Thomas campus um and so as it said this book so it's been in existence for however many years that shows so it shows something of the impact that uh that this book has had in fact even in my own uh my own Journey for a period of time going back a number of years I read a number of these old classics on spirituality and I was going to say that it was this book by Thomas the campus the imitation of Christ was one of the ones which made the biggest impact on me um and just if I can summarize a part of what Thomas campus says and this is my paraphrase of it Thomas campus says this he says some people when they come to Jesus when they come to Faith from then on life gets easier and easier and easier for them and yet for other people when they come to Faith Life from then on seems to get harder and harder and harder and Thomas the campuses I don't know why and there doesn't seem to be any reason why I'm sure a lot of us can identify with a statement like that and we might even put ourselves in one or the other of those categories it seems to me that that for the Apostle Paul that he belonged in that category that when he came to Faith In Jesus that life just seemed to get harder and harder and harder in human terms and certainly what we are looking at today is even from this this little passage or parts of the passage these excerpts that I've read to you today we get this idea we get this picture of Paul here he is we're in prison oh he's Hill Cuts in custody says hell there um and and then he's been through all these trials through Felix and Festus and Agrippa and they all say hey but he's innocent but here he is still in custody and we might be asking ourselves will be sympathizing with Paul and saying this poor character that everybody is saying he's innocent except the other religious bigots and they're wanting to really hang it on him and um and yet here he is still in custody where is God in all of this you see we want to have a look at a bit of that and see what some of the things that we might be able to learn for ourselves now I want to say the key verse is in this for me is Acts chapter 26 and verse 20. in chapter 26 and verse 20 we read this these are the words of Paul and he says first days in domestics then in Jerusalem or Judea and uh and to the Gentiles also and this is the key part in verse 20. I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentions by their deeds this is the cracks of the of what this is all about this is the message that ever since Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus this is what he's what his life has been all about is that he's been preaching this that he openly proclaimed it's from the Amplified version what you see up there I Proclaim that they should repent that is change their inner self their old way of thinking repentance really is an about turn you know when you're driving along and your GPS says turned now and then you're too late and it says make a U-turn as soon as possible and so as soon as you can you do a U-turn and go back that's repentance is doing a u-turn is you're doing a U-turn going back to go the way that we ought to go and this is what Paul was proclaiming to everybody and this is what Paul if he was standing here before us today would say and this is what I would say not in the name of Paul but in the name of Jesus is that it's important that we all repent that we all do this you tenant what's the U-turn in life that's being talked about here well it's the old way of thinking of thinking I Am My Own Boss I can do whatever I want I'm in charge of my own life that we do a U-turn change our way of thinking to now what to recognize and put God in control of Our Lives I'll ask you that question this morning is God in control of your life and the test here according to what Paul is saying from the old way of thinking turn to God doing deeds and living lives which are consistent with repentance you see repentance is not just something that we say up here but this U-turn in our life is something which is going to change the very way that we live or as Paul Wright in a letter to the church at thessalonica in talking about the church there he talked about how they turned to God from Idols that's the U-turn how they turned two God from Idols to serve the living and true God you see serving God is this um is this idea living lives which are consistent with repentance we're demonstrating to others we're demonstrating to God that that truly we have had this u-turned in our lives and our God is in control and in our lives in control of our lives and how we live so there's the number of people mentioned here some of these we talked about last week but let me just uh recap some of these because we have a number of people we have in here we have uh mentioned today about King Agrippa he's King Agrippa the second he's the last Herod in um in his life he's he's timid we see his interaction with Paul in 25 22 26 28. um by the way for those of you who are familiar with some ancient writings there's um a Jewish historian by the name of Josephus his history of around the Jews is still available today is that King Agrippa and Jay cephas were known to each other that's a bit of a by the by and then we also read about Bernice today mentioned about her who mentioned that Bernice has mentioned today and she is actually a gripper's sister and I want to say this tea not only is the gripper's sister but here as agrippa's wife that's an incestuous relationship so what do we know about Denise well she's a real sort when you read about her been married three times been widowed twice and divorced once and now she's living in this incestuous relationship with her brother them Felix he's was more last week he was governor he was corrupt we read about his interaction with Paul and when Felix was recalled to Rome because of the way that he was behaving he went and left Paul in prison Festus was his successor he was the next Governor he came after Felix by the way Felix and Festus do you have trouble when you're thinking about those two remembering who came first who was he well they were in alphabetical order so Felix came first Festus comes second that's alphabetically and that's how they appeared so he's the governor after Felix has all these names going here we're doing all right [Applause] you do that I got a few in my mouth try to keep up with them so Festus is a governor after field he's a callous character his interaction with Paul we can read there and then we hear about them making this uh this appeal to Caesar and we're going to have a lot more or a bit more to say about Caesar next week but here are the key characters that that appear in the story from last week this week and into next week and in this scene or In this passage that we've read today there are three scenes I've read scene one and Scene Three they've seen two in the middle so scene one is like this is guys from chapter 25 and verses 13 to 22. so remember Felix has gone he's been recalled because of uh because he's been a naughty boy and uh Festus has been put in place so Festus is the local boss in the more Regional boss is King Agrippa and then over there is Caesar in Rome so so Felix Felix has gone in festuses then and so king of gripper says there's a new character down the road here I'd better go and pay him a visit and so this is this this is a story this aspect of it this is about today king of gripper I've got new underling in town I've got a few other underlings but I've got this new character I'd better go and pay him a visit and get to know get to know each other so King and gripper along with his sister slash wife Bernice pays a visit and to pay his respects while he's there Festus says to him well you're my boss and I've got this problem character here who I don't know what to do I don't know what to do with him you see Felix this character before me he had this character who he kept in custody called Paul and for all the power all the reason Paul just actually seems to be innocent and yet these Jews still still calling out they just want him done in and I really don't know what to do you see this is a problem for a lot of leaders is that they know what's the right thing to do but they also know what the popular thing is to do and this becomes an issue for all leaders at all times what is right and what is popular because you know that a part of leadership is keeping in good with all your underlings and so you've got to keep on the right side of them but what happens if you know what's right contradicts what everybody else thinks and so Felix not knowing what to do with all of this ah how convenient one of the good things about being recalled is that I don't have to worry about Paul he left him leaves him there Festus comes to town sees all the unfinished business that Felix has done and somewhere on the list uh by the way there's this character called Paul so Festus is calling Paul oh Paul I really don't know what to do with this character got the same problem you see I know it's right I know it's right but also it's not popular if I was to release him remember last week they tried to to do him in and I still want to do him in and and so Festus is struggling along with this and then his boss comes to town King Agrippa ah isn't this good and so he says to King Agrippa king of gripper you're my boss I've got this problem and this problem character his name's Paul what do I do and So after talking about it King Agrippa says Hey I want to meet this character and Festus says tomorrow you will first thing in the morning number one on the appointment list tomorrow bring in Paul so scene one which goes from chapter 25 23 to chapter 26 29 is this audience that Paul has with King and gripper so Paul comes in grip is before a gripper and uh and Bernice and and the interesting thing is this just just read this uh follow it through acts 25 and verse 23 the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp you know what that means um did you see the coronation of King Charles that's Pomp and ceremony um probably king of grip is not quite on the same scale because it wasn't being televised but you get the idea that it's King Agrippa coming in with great Pomp and enter the audience room with the high ranking officers and Leading Men of the city and at the command of Festus Paul was brought in yeah isn't this interesting remember who king of gripper is he's the Baddie he's the guy who's taken his sister he's his wife he's the guy that's got all sorts of issues but he enters in with all this Pomp and ceremony what about Paul well he's a disciple he comes in in Chains he comes in just late as a as a prisoner um does that seem right for one of the Disciples of Jesus well that happens is um is Thomas a campus sometimes when people become Christians life gets easier sometimes for Christians or when people become Christians life just seems to get tougher and tougher for them so Agrippa says tell me your story Paul never misses an opportunity and what do we find him doing he starts telling his story and His Story by the way is that we have come across that there are three times in the book of Acts where Paul's coming to Faith is told Acts chapter 9 where it's uh where it actually occurs Acts chapter 22 when Paul is preaching to the crowd and he gives his Destiny and now for the third time in the book of Acts in Acts chapter chapter 25 Paul gives his Destiny again hey folk that tells us something of the power of testimony of your story of of your journey with Jesus the impact that it can have and and so Paul starts telling his story to uh or tells his story to to King Agrippa and once again his story is broken up into three sections it from 26 verses 211 he says this is what my life was like before I met Jesus I was the one who went around trying to do Christians in um oh is that sort of a character and then the second part of the story in verses 12 to 18 is how he met Jesus and the third part of his story is hey this is what life has been like since I met Jesus I remember what Paul has said in this key verse this is what I'm preaching that we should all repent and show evidence that we have repented this is what Paul is is he's just mirroring his own life hey this is what my life was like and then I did this U-turn I repented and then this is what my life has been like since I met Jesus and so he's telling his story and Festus interrupts in verse 24. he says this in verse 24. at this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense you're out of your mind poor he shouted your great learning is driving you insane Festus is struggling with all of this Paul responds in verses 25 to 27 I am not insane-based excellent Festus so he still treats him with dignity and respect what I'm saying is true and reasonable our faith our belief in the Lord Jesus is a reasonable Faith it's not a blind faith it's something which is reasoned out the king is familiar with these things King and gripper and I can speak freely to him unconvinced that none of this has escaped his notice because it was not done in a corner King Agrippa do you believe the prophets I know you do hey king of grip is being put on notice here too and then there's this sense where egrip is convicted in verse 28 the grip is said to Paul do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Christian may be maybe not you know sometimes we've heard of people come to Faith just so quickly but others it's been quite a journey and Paul replied short time or long there's 29 short time along I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am except for these chains what was Paul Paul's the disciple of Jesus and what was his plea his plea was this all who are listening to me that includes all those who are seated in the caboolture Baptist Church on the 18th of June 2023. all those who are listening to me may become what I am what's that the disciple of Jesus except for what except for these chains Paul speaking couple of thousand years ago not realizing the impact of those words the impact that they would be right here today that he says to you in the name of Jesus today is the day when all of us if we have not done yet today's the day where we need to what repent do a U-turn in our life and show our lives that Jesus is truly the Lord the boss of Our Lives we'll have seen three occurs after that which is just a couple of verses verses 20 verses 30 to 32 in chapter 26. the outcome Agrippa Bernice and Festus I've heard all that they need to hear they go out and then king of grippers says this this man could have been set free if he had not been if he had not appealed to Caesar um interesting isn't it I life has become so much more difficult for Paul and his Paul made a mistake at this point in his life by appealing to Caesar well the answer of course it's not we're going to see that in a second but but it just all what's going on for him around it just seems so chaotic and confusing so why did God say you need to know this story and I want to say here are some discipleship lessons for us today and there are six that I've got today and maybe as we've talked today or as you read it you'll probably come up with another three or four or five or six but here is half a dozen that I've come up with number one is this God is in control and sees the bigger picture you know sometimes we are limited in just seeing the immediate surrounds but Paul sees that regard rather but God sees the bigger picture God sees what's really going on and God has this master plan which is working towards to usher in eternity and we're all a part of that and we've got to remember that irrespective what our circumstances aren't how they seem we are all a part of God's bigger concern bigger bigger picture the second thing listen is this is that we need to keep the main thing the main thing remember that we've said it's a number of times as we've gone through the book of Acts the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing and what's the main thing well the main thing is to be my Witnesses Jerusalem Judea Samaria the end of the Earth the main thing is to make disciples by going baptizing and teaching obedience I mean these are the main things and it doesn't matter whatever's happening to Paul whatever's happening to Paul he has kept the main thing the main thing and even though he's in Chains even before before Felix Festus and Agrippa is sharing his faith this is the main thing and we need to keep the main thing the main thing you may have heard of this term Mission drift and I put a line through it because that's we need to be careful of to avoid Mission drift Mission drift is when an organization including the church where we an organization loses the focus of exactly what they're on about and they start diverging into a whole lot of other areas and we need to be careful that as a church that we do not get involved in Mission drift where we start losing losing focus where we start losing sight of this is the main thing the main thing the third thing is this about Paul I noticed these three things about Paul um here number one that is called chapter 26 and verse 17 says this I'll rescue you this is God speaking to pull I'll rescue you from your own people from the Gentiles I am sending you to them God has called Paul to do a specific task immediately say well that's all right for people like Paul or for our senior pastor Adrian God calls those big people I don't say this very clearly and I want you to hear very clearly if you're a disciple God has a calling on your life do you know that and it's important that we know that and that we understand it and that we respond to that and if you're not sure what that calling is then make sure you talk to your extended family group leader one of the pastors another Christian somebody who's disciping you whatever so I'm not sure what my calling is but it's important that I'm called I know I'm called the Bible tells me I'm cool what's my calling Paul is called secondly about Paulie's competent chapter 26 verse 24 this is what we read earlier about Festus interrupting Paul and he says says to this Paul you're out of your mind your great learning is driving you insane forget about they're driving you insane bit but God has taken the great learning that Paul has and we can look at that in another context another place all the Paul's background everything Pharisee Pharisees its own all the rest of it but he's a very educated man God has called him because God has already equipped him for this and then there's also about Paul's character as well chapter 26 and verse 31 this man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment in fact that's important for our leadership but it's not just important for our leadership that's important for all Disciples of Jesus we recognize our calling we recognize our competence in God and then our character that the U-turn that we've done in our life that we're living a life and the life that we live is the most important thing Beyond repentance the fourth lesson I want to bring out is is it religious people aren't always good and they aren't always right it's a religious people who are trying to do Paul in fact we just need to be aware of this just because people are religious doesn't mean that they're always good or they're always right just be aware of that and sometimes we've got to even be careful that even within you know religious people there's a wider context but even within Christian circles sometimes Christians can't always be good or right in some of the things that they say or do as well what's the best answer to that remember earlier that we read in Acts now the someone were better because they what do you remember what the what we read in Acts number of chapters ago they searched the Bible daily to see if what the apostles were teaching was right that's why it's important that we're students of the Bible that will be the test is what's being said is it consistent with the word of God lesson number five non-christians might reject the message that we give they might be curious like a gripper was or they might even accept the message um just remember that we our job is not to convert everybody that's the holy spirit's work to convert people our job is just to present the gospel so we present it and there's going to be these responses some people reject it as we've read about some today some people be curious and say want to know more and some people will say yes I want to become a disciple of Jesus sometimes we were fried to share our faith just on the basis that people might reject what we say well they will but why should that set us back does the salesman stop selling he tried to sell his or her products because some people don't buy them no they just move on to the next one um do we stop following a favorite team or whatever because people follow a different team no that's they're up to them but we'll follow the right team or whatever and so our job is to be Witnesses of Jesus Jerusalem Judea Samaritans of the earth and uh and and how people respond between them and God let's not decide for them what how they might respond and and make our actions accordingly and the last thing I want to say is that sometimes difficult circumstances actually a Divine appointments um see Paul was in this most difficult thing he's in Chains and yet he had the opportunity to present the gospel to Festus to Felix to gripper to beneath and to River else was there to listen how else how else would any of these people heard the gospel if it wasn't through Paul you see even though it was the most difficult circus this God in his overarching plan in little in working towards his overall thing says here are people who need to hear the gospel how can I do it well I'll get Paul in Chains and he'll have that opportunity to present the gospel to each of these people do you realize that God has placed you and me in situations where we are the ones who may be the only why that some of the people who are part of our network will hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus you see it's a Divine appointment we don't understand that we don't know all the details we don't even know necessarily the outcome all as we know is this God is called God is equipped let's live our lives for the sake of the king of kings the Lord of lords the Lord Jesus let's pray I do need to say this today because I don't know everybody here I don't certainly don't know you're standing before Jesus but maybe there's people here today who need to do that U-turn in life and today God has tapped you on the shoulders we've talked about it said hey you need to do this you need to do a U2 it may be for some people here this morning you've done it U-turn in the past there's been that repentance that your lives really aren't showing that and as we've talked today about turn to God from Idols to serve the Living God to say well the way I'm living my life now I'm not serving God today I really need to do something about that when you do that maybe for the very first time to repent to do that you turn in your life to submit your life to the Lord Jesus say Lord Jesus I'm asking in my life to forgive my sins and I want to be yours and live my life for you or maybe it's a case of coming back thank God I've received you in the past but you know the way I'm living now it's not honoring to you and I want to put my life right if you're in that situation today you can do that business with God right here right now just you and God that I would encourage you that if you've been like that then we want to help you in that journey and encourage you to speak to anybody who's been upfront today with Dylan or die for Adrian may help their lives talk to us so that we might pray it again we might be able to help but also maybe you are on track with God and say God Divine appointments may I be your person in your place doing your thing this week knowing that I'm a part of your overall plan [Music] it's a holy moment God when you talk to us individually by name we know it's you because it's not the way we normally think so you've read your word as we've listened preaching others who have sung these songs today touched Our Lives Lord by your grace give us the courage we pray to be like Paul to say irrespective of the circumstances irrespective whether life's easy or hard I will be I will be your person and respond to you father God your word says that you honor those who honor you today sure what's going on in this Auditorium right now My Name by your spirit you're at work continue the work in US individually bring to fruition your heart's desire to honor the Lord Jesus in his name we pray. Amen.