Church Extended – Message 11
June 20, 2021
I. Introduction: We continue our series entitled, Church Extended.
The title to today’s message is Purpose.
- Theme verse: Acts 26:22 (NLT)—“But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify…” [Paul fulfilled God’s purpose for him.]
- Paul was in prison in Caesarea for two years, in the custody Roman Governor Felix, then Governor Festus, who replaced Felix by order of Emperor Nero (Acts 24:27).
- Jewish leaders made accusations against Paul before Festus that Paul denied and the Jews couldn’t prove (Acts 25:1-8).
- To please the Jews, Festus asked Paul to stand trial before him in Jerusalem, but Paul refused and appealed to stand trial before Caesar in Rome (Acts 25:9-12).
- Jewish King Herod Agrippa II arrived to pay a visit to Festus (Acts 25:13).
- Festus discussed Paul’s case with King Agrippa, who had greater familiarity with the Jewish faith, likely to discover what to charge Paul with for his report to the emperor; Agrippa asked to hear from Paul himself (Acts 25:14-27).
- Paul told Agrippa his life story, his testimony, including his Jewish training as a Pharisee, his opposition to Jesus and His followers, his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and his assignment as God’s witness to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:1-18).
- Acts 26:17-18 (NLT)— 17 “‘And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18to 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,…’” [Assignment!]
- Acts 26:19 (NLT)—“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven.”
- God called Paul, and He calls us, to minister in His name, to offer people the opportunity to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, to receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people.
- We have the privilege and the responsibility to offer to people an invitation into eternal life—just as Paul did!
- God has a personalized, individual, purpose and plan—with people to reach—for each of us.
- Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)—For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
- APP.: Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life and are you pursuing it?
- ILL.: Dads, the greatest influence you can have on the life of your children, the most important value to instill in them, is to discover and pursue God’s purpose for them.
II. Pursuing God’s purpose results in… (Acts 26:19-32. C/R: Proverbs 19:21; Ephesians 2:10)
A. #1. Receiving God’s protection. (Acts 26:19-23. C/R: Luke 21:17-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:6)
- Acts 26:20 (NLT)—“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.” [Evidence]
- A change of mind (repentance) results in a change of behavior.
- Acts 26:21-22a (NLT)—21Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this [specifically the spiritual equality of Jews and Gentiles], and they tried to kill me. 22aBut God has protected me right up to this present time [from two plots against his life; Acts 23:12ff; 25:2-5 and numerous attacks; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 2 Timothy 3:11; 4:17-18] so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. [Paul’s calling.]
- When we have a calling, an assignment from God that we are pursuing, God will protect and preserve our lives. [Luke 21:17-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:6]
- Hebrews 13:6 (NLT)—So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
- This doesn’t mean that we will not suffer, because clearly Paul did, and we know by experience that we do, as well, but we will be enabled to complete our calling.
- Perhaps we glorify God most when we love, worship and obey Him in the midst of suffering; He upholds and comforts us, but He doesn’t prevent all of our pain!
- Acts 26:22b-23 (NLT)—22b I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—23that 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.”
- The protection of God for Paul was related to accurately spreading the Good News about Jesus to all people with prejudice or discrimination.
- APP.: Do I spread Good News, relying on God for protection and preservation of my life so I can tell my faith story to all—from the least to the greatest [as Paul put it]?
Pursuing God’s purpose results in…
B. #2 - Resistance from people. (Acts 26:24-28. C/R: Luke 10:16; John 15:18-21;
1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 John 4:6)
- Festus listened with growing irritation as Paul spoke to the king.
- Acts 26:24 (NLT)—Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!” [Paul was educated and intelligent; how could he believe that?]
- Did Paul actually believe that Jesus of Nazareth, who was executed by Pilate, one of Festus’s predecessors as governor, was alive and had spoken to him?
- Acts 26:25-26 (NLT)—25But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. [Then he turns his attention to the king.] 26And 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!
- Paul called Agrippa as a witness to his sanity, since Jews believed in resurrection (except Sadducees), and the Jewish people had all heard of the death of Jesus and the claim of Christians that He rose from the dead.
- By remaining silent, Agrippa confirmed the truth of Paul’s statements, then Paul spoke boldly to the king.
- Acts 26:27 (NLT)—King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
- The implication was that if he did, he would have to consider that Jesus might be the Messiah—which would make him look foolish to the Romans and infuriate the Jews.
- A Jewish king had to respect the Jewish prophets, so he avoided the question by mocking Paul.
- Acts 26:28 (NLT)—Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”
- Agrippa rejected Paul’s invitation because he was more concerned about how other important people viewed him than he was about discovering whether the Hebrew God was real and how to enter relationship with Him.
- When you represent God and express His Gospel, you will be rejected by some people, but we must please God, not people. [John 15:18-21; Luke 10:16; 1 John 4:6]
- 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)—The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
- APP.: Have you experienced resistance to your testimony about Jesus?
Pursuing God’s purpose results in…
#3 - Reaching others with Good News. (Acts 26:29-32. C/R: Mark 16:15; Acts 20:24; Romans 10:14; 2 Corinthians 5,11,18-20)
- Acts 26:29 (NLT)—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.”
- Paul was hopeful that all who heard him preach the Gospel would come to know Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Lord, no matter how long it took.
- Paul, a lowly, powerless, prisoner in chains told the gathered political and military leaders and other important people, that he wished they could be like him!
- Paul knew that he occupied the highest position possible in this life and in the one to come—being a child of God.
- His status as a prisoner did not diminish his favored standing as a follower of Jesus.
- APP.: Do you identify yourself by your faith or by your bank account?
- As God’s children, we occupy the highest standing possible in this world and we have been given the greatest possible privilege of inviting people into a life-giving relationship with Jesus that forgives their sins, and grants them eternal life in heaven as an adopted child of God. [Mark 16:15; Romans 10:14; 2 Corinthians 5:11, 18-20]
- 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT)—So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
- Acts 26:30-32 (NLT)—30Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. 31As they went out, they talked it [Paul’s case] over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”
32And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”
- These powerful people lacked the courage to do what they knew was right.
- Now, after two years of waiting, the Lord’s promise to Paul that he must preach the Good News in Rome as well (Acts 23:11) would come true!
- God preserved Paul’s life so he could pursue God’s purpose!
- Paul said at Acts 20:24 (NLT)—“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
- APP.: Do you know God’s purpose for you? Are you pursuing it? [Dads?]
- Memory verse: Acts 26:22 (NLT)—“But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. …”