Almost Persuaded (Acts 26) – Kent Bailey

Kent Bailey

New Testament Christianity is brought into one’s life by the element of persuasion. By that, we refer to the element of argumentation, expostulation or entreaty to a course of action. In Acts chapter 26 Paul makes a defense of the Gospel system, serving as an example of the great and fundamental truth that it is the power of God unto salvation. The purpose of Paul’s defense was not that of saving his own life, but rather to persuade Agrippa of his need of salvation.

As we examine the text, we find that Paul discussed his background, including his persecution of Christians, his conversion to the truth, and his commission from Christ to preach the Gospel. In this account, Paul discussed his obedience to that commission as well as his arrest in the temple. Within this specific defense, Paul argued that he had preached nothing other than what the Old Testament prophets had spoken. Finally, Paul appealed to Agrippa to acknowledge his belief in the prophets. Because of his acceptance of what the prophets had stated, Agrippa should have been willing to obey the conditions of the gospel and become a New Testament Christian, a member of the church of the Lord. However, the text indicates that Agrippa avoided making such a commitment.

There are three fundamental truths affirmed in Acts chapter 26. In the context of this study we note:

The Possibility of Persuasion (26:1-3)

The truth of God has within itself the power to disturb individuals by convicting them of their personal sins. That was illustrated by Paul’s preaching to Felix (Acts 24:24-25). According to the historian Josephus, Drusilla was a daughter of Herod Agrippa, whose persecution of the apostles of Christ wrought great havoc to the church of our Lord. She was not only from a notorious family, but also was considered a woman of remarkable beauty as well as being the lawful wife of Azizus, King of Emesa. History attests to the fact that she was living in the sin of adultery with Felix. Concerning Felix, historical records indicate that he exercised authority with virtually every type of cruelty and lust imaginable. Upon hearing Paul’s preaching dealing with righteousness temperance and judgment he was filled with fear and dread regarding God’s punishment concerning sin.

In every account of conversion as recorded in the book of Acts one will note that the preaching of the Gospel brought about conviction of sin within the lives of the hearers. Such conviction resulted in persuasion in bringing individuals to a point in life where they obeyed the Gospel of Christ, or else they rejected it. The truth of the Gospel of Christ is so designed by God as to not be neutral. It is on the cutting edge. Because of the nature of objective truth (which exists separate and apart from the human mind), accountable humanity does indeed have the ability to reason correctly regarding such revealed truth and be persuaded to obey that truth, which brings freedom from sin (John 8:32-36; Rom. 6:16-18).

The Necessity of Conversion (26:4-20)

By the term conversion we refer to a turning or change. In understanding the consequences of sin one thus understands the need for all accountable individuals to be turned, or changed, from a lost state of alienation from God in sin to a saved state coming into the fellowship of Christ by obedience to His saving gospel. That requires more than sincerity in what one believes, or in how one lives. It requires more than simply being religious. Not all religions are of divine origin. As a matter of fact Christ only has one acceptable religion which is his church (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13-18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23). That requires more than to simply claim to follow Christ. One must obey from the heart the form of doctrine as set forth in Romans 6:3-18. All accountable individuals outside of Christ are lost (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; John 14:6)

Upon becoming guilty of sin and being alienated from God, one stands in need of New Testament conversion to be in a saved condition. There are four changes when one converts to truth:

  • Faith changes one’s trust (John 1:12; 8:24).

  • Repentance changes one’s mind (Acts 17:30; 2 Cor. 7:10).

  • Confession changes one’s allegiance (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37).

  • Baptism changes one’s condition or state (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13-14; 1 Pet. 3:21).

The Need for Action (26:24-29)

When the New Testament of Christ affirms the reality of Salvation from sin that requires action and/or activity. It necessitates humanity’s obedience to conditions of pardon that have already been discussed. It also brings about the act and reality of forgiveness wherein God removes from his divine mind the record of one’s sins. Forgiveness thus takes place not in the life of a sinner, but within the mind of God.

Agrippa did not argue against the truth. The record does not indicate that he denied the need for a Messiah. There is no indication that he denied the Deity of Christ, nor the work of Christ. Paul made a very significant observation when he stated,

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. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

Because Agrippa believed the message of the prophets and, of necessity, believed in the Deity of Christ, that disproves the false doctrine of Salvation by faith only. To be saved one must be completely persuaded and obey from the heart the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 6:17-18).

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