THE POWER OF TESTIMONY
Lord, I know what You have wrought within me.
Read ACTS 24:1–21
Paul’s Trial Before Felix
24 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.
5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.  [a] 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”
9 The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.
10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”
a Acts 24:7 Some manuscripts include here him, and we would have judged him in accordance with our law. 7 But the commander Lysias came and took him from us with much violence, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“You will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside” (Oswald Chambers, 1874–1917).
Paul has already been arrested rather dramatically in Jerusalem and has testified boldly to the Jerusalem crowd and to the Jewish court of the Sanhedrin (Acts 21–23). After being transferred to Caesarea, he comes before Antonius Felix. Felix has lived an extraordinary life, going from slavery to becoming the Governor of Judea, appointed by the Emperor Claudius himself in A.D. 52. He is also a nasty and ineffective ruler—the historian Tacitus famously said of him, “He practiced every kind of cruelty and lust, wielding the power of a tyrant with the disposition of a slave” (Annals, 12.54).
This trial before Felix is really an oratorical duel between two accomplished rhetoricians: Paul and the hired accuser, Tertullus. Tertullus accuses Paul of various crimes, including inciting dissension in the empire, leading a religious sect without Roman approval, and attempting to desecrate the temple. Paul’s defense is important, because he rebuts the accusations point by point and essentially deploys his personal testimony—who he is, what he has done, and what God has done through him (11–21). After telling the story of his arrival in Jerusalem and admitting to being a “follower of the Way” (14), he summarizes by saying “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and all people” (16).
This episode underscores the undeniable power of a personal testimony. Our accusers cannot match our personal stories of what God has done in and through us and what he means to us. Our spiritual experiences are therefore precious, and they must be carefully preserved and retold. Often the power of a personal story will cut through someone’s intellectual argument and reveal the true condition of that person’s heart.
Perhaps we need more testimony and less apologetics. Can you tell the stories of God in your life in a compelling and yet simple way? Practice by sharing with someone today.
Lord, open more and more doors for me to share what happened to me when I received You as my Savior.
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