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Reasonable Faith

Acts 26:24-29
At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defence. 'You are out of your mind, Paul!' he shouted. 'Your great learning is driving you insane.' 'I am not insane, most excellent Festus,' Paul replied. 'What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.' Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long – I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.' (NIVUK)

Festus, the new Governor in Caesarea, was visited by his senior officer, King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:13-15). Paul had been left in prison there by the previous Governor, Felix, who did not know what to do with the apostle. Felix and Festus both feared that releasing Paul would precipitate public disorder, which would be bad for their reputation as the military controller of the area. On the other hand, there was no evidence that Paul had offended Roman law (Acts 25:27). So, Festus asked Agrippa to see Paul and recommend what should be done with him (Acts 25:24-26).

Agrippa gave Paul permission to say whatever he wanted in his own defence. Instead, Paul gave his testimony and preached Christ. But as Paul linked the death and resurrection of Jesus to the Old Testament prophecies, Festus became very uncomfortable (Acts 26:19-23). Without asking permission from the king, the Governor interrupted Paul, accusing him of being insane through studying too much. But Paul continued his defence of the gospel by declaring it to be both true and reasonable. The evidence was in the publicly known death and resurrection of Jesus.

Paul continued to address the King. The apostle was quite straightforward and personal, "Do you believe the prophets?" and then, "I know that you do!" It was time for Agrippa to stop playing games with the gospel, and Paul was confident that he had the Lord's authority to open the King's eyes to the truth (Acts 26:16-18). Agrippa stalled. He was not used to being challenged by anybody, least of all a prisoner. So, he implied that believing was a complicated matter which could not be rushed. Paul was clear that however long it took, the only wise course was for Agrippa to put his trust in Jesus. We suspect that never happened. At the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, the records show that Agrippa took part in the looting of the temple. He maintained his pride and position, and gained possessions - but lost his soul (Luke 9:25).

Trusting Jesus is a reasonable and rational decision based on truth which is backed up by evidence. Faith is not an emotional experience for mentally unstable people. It is the reasoned assessment of the evidence of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, when compared to the ancient prophetic scriptures. The life of Jesus was not fantasy dreamed up by a few enthusiasts; it was very well-known public information. Although many people today, who want to escape the claims of Christ, dismiss the historicity of Jesus' life, death and rising again, honest historians do not. Keep on confidently presenting Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit shine His light on the truth so that your friend or colleague will respond to Jesus in reasoned confidence, before it is too late.

God of truth. Thank You for all the historical evidence which is still available to confirm the facts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Forgive me when I have allowed myself to be beaten down by people who try to ridicule my faith in Jesus. Help me to be confident in proclaiming the truth, so that some will find true faith in Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams