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A Gospel Opportunity

Acts 26:1-3
Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You have permission to speak for yourself.' So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defence: 'King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defence against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.' (NIVUK)

Paul stood in the middle of a great hall in the fortress of Caesarea, surrounded by top military and civic dignitaries (Acts 25:23-24). King Herod Agrippa II had come to impress the new governor, Festus; and Festus wanted to impress his new boss. By contrast, Paul was brought in chains as a prisoner (Acts 26:29), so that Agrippa might provide an official reason for sending an innocent man to trial in Rome (Acts 25:27).

But for Paul, the occasion was a glorious gospel opportunity. Although Paul fully explained the gospel during his trial in Rome (2 Timothy 4:16-17), this is his last recorded gospel address. The apostle was not frightened because he knew that the Holy Spirit would give him the words (Luke 12:11-12). Indeed, being able to extend his hand in the air as an orator showed that he was fully confident (Romans 1:16). He wanted to tell everybody present, the truth about Jesus and how he submitted to His authority.

It was important for Herod Agrippa II to hear the truth. Three previous generations of his family (all called Herod) had persecuted Jesus (Matthew 2:16; Luke 23:8-12), John the Baptist (Matthew 14:3-12), the apostles and the church (Acts 12:1-4). Paul wanted Herod Agrippa to repent before it was too late, unlike his father whose pride brought God's immediate judgement in death (Acts 12:21-23). Agrippa knew much about the Jews and the church. This was his opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel: his conscience was already stirred and he wanted to hear about Jesus (Acts 25:22). So Paul's heart was eager to use this opportunity to explain the gospel to the king (Acts 9:15).

Wise Christians will always be ready to explain why they are trusting Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). Those opportunities may be known in advance, or may come unexpectedly. Many people, often the people you might least expect, are looking for the loving kindness which is only found in God. Some know that they are seeking Jesus. Many others do not know what will satisfy their hungry heart; they may try religion, philosophy, immerse themselves in work or personal experiences – but their search will only be fully satisfied by Jesus. So take whatever opportunity you have to explain the gospel. Download www.crosscheck.org.uk, show it to your friends and tell them how you came to repent and invite Jesus into your heart.

Loving Father. Thank You for wanting all people to come to Jesus and be saved, and for providing the gospel for me to share. Forgive me for failing to see the opportunities You provide for sharing the gospel, for failing to pray for such opportunities: I repent of being more frightened about losing a friendship, than of my friends losing their opportunity to be saved for eternity. Please help me to prepare each day in prayer so that when the opportunities come, I will recognise them and be ready to share the gospel. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams