Traveling Israel offered many opportunities to see places and areas that I have read about many times in the Bible. Tracing some of the steps of Paul was inspiring and educational. I did have the opportunity to stand in the place that Paul stood when he was explaining and defending his faith to King Agrippa. Let me give you that account.
In Acts 21:8 we read “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.” Paul had traveled to the Caesarea known as Caesarea Martima to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi. In this town there is a Roman amphitheater where all forms of entertainment took place in the time of Paul and still does today. This was also the place referred to in Acts 25:23 as the “place of hearing.” It was in this place that Paul gave testimony of his conversion by Jesus and commitment to Jesus. We can read in Acts 26:1 where King Agrippa told Paul “Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.” Paul begins to give his personal testimony.
In verse 18 he spoke of his work “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Paul was sharing the Gospel among all people and he was sharing that day with King Agrippa and his court. In verse 23 Paul says “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” This is the Gospel message and that message is the same today. Festus was listening and he felt compelled to interrupt Paul and accuse him of losing his mind but Paul with love explained to Festus that these were words of “truth and soberness” and further explained in verse 26 “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” God does nothing in a corner or in darkness. Neither do God’s people. Paul then turned to King Agrippa and said in verse 27 “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.”
King Agrippa knew the words of Paul were true. Yet he uttered some of the saddest words written in verse 28 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Almost…how sad those words are. King Agrippa almost believed in a Saviour who came and offered himself as a remission for sin. God did not send his son for us to “almost” accept him or “almost” follow him. God expects our all. Start your New Year off with giving your “all” to God. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.