Choosing Our Response
Lord, You are the God of tradition and innovation, the new and the old. Do a new thing in me today.
Read ACTS 26:19-32
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“God impinging on the human race in Christ–it is still a challenge. It is a momentous responsibility for our world, our church, and ourselves to face the challenge of his coming” (James S. Stewart, 1896-1990).
The Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ requires a response from all those who hear it. Today’s passage illustrates a number of reactions to a reasoned, truthful defense of the faith. When Paul was confronted by the heavenly vision he only had two alternatives: to respond in obedience or disobedience. When he examined the Scriptures he found that Jesus’ suffering, resurrection and message of light to Jews and Gentiles (23) were a fulfillment of God’s promises to humanity. He chose to obey. The Jews refused to listen to reason, or their prophets, and strongly rejected the possibility that salvation could include the Gentiles. They were attempting to silence the messenger. Festus’s lack of spiritual perception caused him to dismiss the message as insanity. Agrippa, when confronted by Paul’s reasoned argument, laughed it off and evaded the issue by his embarrassed, non-committal reply, “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me” (28, The Message).
These same responses are common today. Each person must choose whether to heed God’s message or reject it. There is no other option. Putting it off for a more convenient time is ultimately a decision against it. So it was with Agrippa: no matter how close he was to belief, his departure from the court signaled his rejection. That was why, in preaching salvation, Paul called for repentance and a complete change in people’s minds and actions (20). We can never reason someone into God’s kingdom, no matter how powerful the argument. It requires a step of faith, turning to Christ in repentance, and demonstration of a changed life, by God-like deeds of obedience to the heavenly vision. God will help us each day, as he did with Paul (22), whether the way ahead is easy or difficult.
In verse 18, Paul shares three images that summarize the Gospel (eyes opened; darkness to light; from Satan’s power to God). Which one best describes your spiritual journey and why?
Lord Jesus, knowing You has changed the direction of my life. Keep me looking to You each day and always walking in Your ways.