Paul’s amazing ability to adapt His message to every audience is a demonstration of the Spirit’s power and wisdom in a humble man. The great apostle shows tact, presence of mind and an earnest desire to see people come to saving faith in Christ. By using his own experiences with the Lord, Paul provides one of the best apologetical messages in the Bible. Let us learn from some of the most significant aspects of Paul’s message in Acts 22.
An old legend says that at creation the birds felt cheated and hurt because they received wings. Wings appeared to be burdens which none of the other animals were asked to carry. All was changed, however, when the birds learned that wings were not burdens but blessings that borne them to the sky. Because they were given wings they could rise above the earth and see sights which no other animal could see. What seemed like burdens were really blessings.
See: Gen 1:21; Psa 55:6
1. Paul spoke in Aramaic (Mixture of Hebrew and Syriac) to gain credibility among the conservative and patriotic Jews in the audience. Learn to speak in the language, tone and manner that your audience will consider most credible. Communication is only about 7% of the words we speak and the rest is our character and love we communicate to people. Paul was a master because He presented a message in terms that his audience would greatly respect.
2. Paul shares that his early experience were very similar to those of his audience. Gain identification with the people you are speaking by showing how you have so much in common. By telling the audience that his training was similar to theirs he indicates that Christ’s changes affected Him supernaturally. Paul shows his audience that it is God who is at work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. We cannot please God or find eternal life unless we allow the Spirit of God to come into our life and change us from the inside out.
3. Paul admits his mistakes regarding his own faulty views of the law and its capacity to bring deliverance from sin, sorrow and suffering. When we are willing to confess our own failings people are more open to change in their lives.
4. Paul admitted that he at one time had shared their animosity toward Christian, but emphasizes God’s direct intervention in his life. We all have to know that God is eager to bring us to new life in Christ as he knows the destructive path of human nature. Sincerity is not enough to gain the righteousness of God. Paul recounts his Damascus road conversion as proof of God’s ability to save even the worst of sinners. There is great power in your personal testimony if you will just share as a point of connection to others.
5. Paul admits that he had to surrender to Christ’s power in order to receive forgiveness and redemption. People who think they can become a Christian without expressing true repentance are fooling themselves. When we call on the name of the Lord we are admitted that we are lost and in need of forgiveness from the LORD and SAVIOR Jesus Christ. We cannot accept only a part of Christ into our life. We receive Him as our Savior and King who wants to bring about great change in our lives. There is no such thing as only accepting the benefits of eternal salvation without trusting Christ wholly for His work in our lives. Paul made it clear that becoming a Christian is not a mere mechanical act of saying a prayer. Instead saving faith involves admitting we are a sinner who needs forgiveness from the LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
6. Paul is given a commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and to the Jews. God told Paul to go and tell all that he had experienced. When we speak from personal experience of the good things the Lord has done in our life it will move people to greater confidence in the power of Christ to transform even the worst of us.
7. Paul knew that his testimony would carry special weight for those who knew his background well. Be sure that you give people enough transparent look into your own background that they will know you are speaking out of the way God has worked in your life. Great speakers not only inform by inspire people for great changes. It is nearly impossible unless you give your audience examples of how the Lord had powerfully worked to change your attitudes, relationships and activities. Share with them some of your priority ministries as evidence of the way God is giving great fruit. People will know you by your fruit.
8. Paul knew that some of the people would reject and become angry with his message. Expect some people to be unfavorable toward what you have to say. Ask the Lord to give you the grace and wisdom to move the unfavorable to more of an accepting attitude while helping the neutral to become more active in applying the truth while helping the favorable to find specific ways that they can grow to higher levels of maturity in Christ as a result of your message.
9. Paul received his persecution as a man, but defended his right to be set free as a Roman citizen. Learn to utilize all of your rights for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps you need to consult with members of the Christian legal association to appropriate all the rights you have as a believer in your work place.
10. Paul was given another opportunity to speak before the chief priests and their council after he was released from his chains. Believe that the Lord will allow one good message to provide open doors for others that will impact people of greater influence. Never underestimate what God can do when you obey Him in little things. Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things I will make you responsible for greater ministries.” (Luke 16:100 Paul’s ministry not only impacted the religious but also the social-political and economic leaders of his day.
11. Paul trusted God to use his open air message to influence millions in ways far beyond human imaginations. Do not think lightly of any opportunity that the Lord might provide you to preach or teach his word. Ask the Lord to use you in a Sunday school class or in small Bible study or in a conversation with someone this week. God’s word never returns without having its effects. Even though it seemed at the time that Paul’s message met with failure we know now God turned it in to one of the world’s most influential sermons ever preached. Millions have been stirred by Paul’s faith, love, and truth. Can you also trust the Lord to do the same with your messages, conversations and ministries?
Conclusion: If the apostle Paul were asked what he would do with all of the present problems of fear, unemployment, and hardship in America today he would no doubt says, “You are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Do not be overcome (by over-reacting, over-emphasizing, over-spiritualizing, over-blowing, over-dramatizing, over-extending, over-doing something) with evil, but overcome (over-ride, overshadow, over-look, over-power) evil with good.” (Rom. 12;21)
Appearing Saturday, Feb. 15, 2003