Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Banner of Truth 2009 -- Persuasive Preaching 2 by Alstair Begg

Persuasive Preaching # 2 – Alistair Begg

Next year May 25-27, 2010. Speakers: Jerry Bridges, Craig Troxel, John Mayberry, Jeff Kingswood

Act 25:23-26:32

Preaching in itself is a daunting task, especially if we take into mind their dead hearts and blind eyes. Newton about preaching, “We are not to reason but obey.”
Last evening, confusion, fear, and complacency are enemies of preaching that seeks to persuade. As we look at this text this evening in his preaching to Agrippa and Berenice we are looking at how this sermon bears the marks of clarity, boldness and urgency.
The background of this text is Paul's accusation of being a trouble maker and his arrest. He was brought before Felix and Felix never issued a verdict looking for a bribe from Paul. Then the new governor Festus explores this and Paul eventually appeals to Caesar So Festus brings Paul before King Agrippa and Berniece who came to visit him, looking for something reasonable to send along with Paul when he is sent to Caesar Agrippa is interested in hearing Paul himself. This opened a great door for Paul to preach the gospel and for Agrippa to hear the gospel.
In consideration of the scene as it unfolds in verse 23. There was great pomp and all that means for the entrance of a king. Agrippa was one of the line of Herods. He was not from a nice group. His fore-bearers were brutal, arrogant and bloody in their rules. Paul was simply brought in. He was chained. Power seemed to lay with the assembly of the seeming great, not with this one man. Comfort to remember that God raises up and brings down princes and rulers. God reigns.
Festus starts speaking, but Agrippa tells Paul he can speak for himself.
We find that in Paul's introduction that he was a religious prodigy. He was marked out even among the notable religious people of the day. His Jewish background was notable. Given his Jewish heritage he lived with the hope of Israel. That is the significants of this section, and it gave significants to his interaction with the law and prophets. The hope that God would come and deliver his people and raise up a banner of salvation from the house of David. Every Jewish boy grew up with this hope. Paul makes clear that the basis of the charges against him is the hope of Israel, in Jesus who fulfills that hope. So he asks in verse 8, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”
In our day when people are willing to talk about anything and everything the resurrection may be passe. The issue is the resurrection of Christ. The bodily risen Christ.
In verses 9 to 11, we find Paul identifies his own personal opposition to Jesus and the message of Jesus, and his opposition of those who followed and taught Jesus. In doing this he puts himself in the place of those who do oppose the resurrection of Jesus. He opposed it.
Then he points to how he is the way he is not in 12-18. God intervened. What is important to notice is that Paul so clearly wanted the kings salvation. He did not want the kings favor, so he did not stop at verse 18, but pushed on beyond that. Being didactic was not sufficient. He instead exhorts from the truths he has laid down, calling for faith in Jesus. He was not disobedient to this vision, but he preached. This moved a monologue to a dialogue. He goes beyond the accepted propriety of the situation.
First in verse 19 following he first of all gives and explanation. He explains why he would be preaching, Jesus sent/commissioned him. Jesus not only rescued him, but he sent him. The terminology is similar to John 20 in the sending of the other apostles.
Then he says where—Damascus, Jerusalem, the Gentiles. Notice he gets the essentials of the gospel in 3 times.
First in verse 18, “ 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.” Calling those listening to wonder are their eyes open, are they in darkness or light. He brings us repentance and faith.
Then in verse 23, “what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 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.” This message was nothing new. It was the same message as Moses and the prophets. He is pointing out how Jesus is the Messiah who the Old Testament is looking to.
Who does he go to, “small and great alike.” No difference in the message no matter who he is speaking to. He was pointing out to the king that the message is the same for him as everyone else. We are all in the same need. He was no preferrer of persons.
Then in 24 and following we find him interrupted but Festus. It was not really his place to do this. It was Agrippa who gave Paul the freedom to speak. There are various possible reasons, but for whatever reason he thought it sounded crazy.
Notice how Paul deals with this. If you respond wrongly, dismissive or condescending, all gain will be lost. Paul responded respectfully giving Festus his place, “most excellent Festus.” He is candid, and reasserts that it is true and rational. And, he did it skillfully going back to Agrippa's knowledge and familiarity to the facts so he can speak freely to him while with Festus not so much.
Then he applies all this. He now turns from the third person use for the king, Paul moves to the second person. He addresses the king directly. He breaks all propriety asking king Agrippa, “do you believer the prophets?” He was doing what he did in the synagogue, reasoning with him. If they would get to the point of believing the prophets, he would point out Jesus is the Messiah. Then that nudge, “I know you do.” At that moment we find a moment of engagement. He has the king before him and the king answers, but with a question of his own—a political out. How did he say it? We don't know. But, he knew what Paul was trying to do. He knew Paul was trying to persuade him.
Wouldn't it be horrible to think you were a persuasive preacher and the people didn't know you were trying to persuade them.
Look at Paul's reply. “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.” You can see the evangelist here. What a moment. Clear, bold, urgent.
Finally, 30-32, an abrupt ending. The king gets up with the others and they all leave. What happened to all those who where there with the king? They leave. While talking together they say, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” Instead of dealing with what Paul said, they turn to technicalities and trivialities. Do you encourage the people to take that moment following the service to ask one another, “What do you think about this?” or “Do you believe?”


pascale said...

Hey you might be interested in a book which discusses a lot of these ideas

There is a synopsis of the book there too explaining that the author deals with the Jewish tradition that Agrippa was the ‘real Messiah.’


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