Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa
 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,  especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.  They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.  And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers,  to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!  Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.  And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Paul Tells of His Conversion
 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.  At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,  but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.  For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.  To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:  that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”  But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.  For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.  King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”  And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”  And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them.  And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.”  And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” (ESV)
- It’s about the resurrection
The physical resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of all Christian hope and faith. Christians believe that Jesus is the Christ because Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). This is not only the heart of Paul’s preaching, but it is the primary thrust of Paul’s apologetics. Every Jew knew and believed that God was able to raise the dead. Any “God” who could not do that was not much of a god. Therefore, according to Paul’s argument, no Jew had any reason to reject the claim that God could have raised Jesus. The question was not, “Can God raise the dead?” The question was, and is, “Did God raise Jesus?” If so, he must be Lord.
- Which “felt needs?”
It is not uncommon to hear preachers appeal to the felt needs of their listeners. People have needs, and Jesus meets those needs. Preachers will claim that if you want your needs to be met, you need to come to Jesus. Of course, there is some truth to that. However, that is not how Paul presents the Gospel in this text. Instead, Paul refers to the resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, the defeat of Satan, and salvation, to name a few. It is important, when communicating the Gospel, to not confuse the benefits of the Gospel with the Gospel itself.
- A Christian nation?
It is clear from this text that Paul’s desire was not a pluralistic society in which Christianity, secularism, and other religions could occupy space and co-exist until the end of time. No, Paul wanted everyone to become Christian, even the king and the governor (Acts 26:28-29). While many today might be embarrassed by this, and even argue that it is inappropriate for those in power to govern in light of their Christian convictions, Paul was unapologetic about his desire to see all come to faith.
- How central is the resurrection of Jesus in your conversations with others about your faith? Why should the resurrection of Jesus be primary in our evangelistic conversations?
- How can felt needs be a distraction from the Gospel? What is the difference between the Gospel and the blessings we receive from the Gospel?
- Is it appropriate to call our leaders to repentance and faith in Christ? Is it appropriate for leaders to govern according to their Christian convictions? Why or why not?
Call to Worship
 Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
 The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
O God, we have no merit; let the merit of Jesus stand for us. We are undeserving, but we look to your tender mercy. We are full of sin; you are full of grace. You have given us your Son, Jesus, and now our hearts are turned towards holiness. Help us in all our doings to mortify our sin and pride. Save us from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in us day by day. We pray in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen.
Heavenly Father, you have chosen for us to live in these times and appointed our leaders to lead our cities, county, state and nation. We pray that you surround these leaders with your people, that they might testify to the hope that is found in your Son. We pray that you might act and bring salvation to our Mayors and county commissioners. We pray that you might use them to be a conduit of peace and grace to our neighbors. Father we also ask that you bring repentance, faith and salvation to Governor Inslee, Vice President Harris and President Biden. Transform their heart, transform their life, and use them to transform this nation to honor and glorify you. You are mighty to save and we come before you on their behalf. We pray in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.