The Apostle Paul, standing before King Agrippa and Festus was finally given permission to speak for himself, that is, to make his defence against all the accusations of the Jews who wanted him dead. The blessed apostle unravelled his testimony to the king and the crowd, declaring unashamedly the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and saying nothing more than what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass, that is, that the Christ must suffer and that, by being first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Festus, hearing this heavenly testimony to which the blessed apostle was not disobedient, branded Paul to be mad, his great learning was driven him insane. King Agrippa had a different reaction for he was a man instructed in the scriptures and familiar with the prophets. Agrippa responded to Paul with the words, ‘In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?’ To which the apostle replied ‘Whether short or long, I would to God not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am - except for this chains.’ (Acts 26).
Paul’s whole life was spent in trying to persuade people to become a Christian. The great apostle was unashamed of such a declaration, for he knew of God’s dreadful terror on the coming judgement day where every soul without Christ will perish under the great omnipotent wrath. Paul knew of such a day, a dreadful, awful hour where mankind and angels alike will behold the greatest manifestation of anger and hatred towards sin. Those found under its canopy will ask of themselves for all eternity, why they did not heed the gospel when it was presented to them and that for their benefit. In that dreadful hour which knows no end, man and angel alike will forever hope for another gospel, but there will be no more sacrifices. No other Gospel may be preached except that which calls man to repent and trust Christ in this life.
The great Apostle also knew of the great benefits in becoming a Christian other than escaping the judgement which is to come. Therefore, the apostle with great zeal seeks to persuade every man, great and small to become just like he is, all except the chains. The apostle wanted them also to be partakers of the divine nature, to be blessed with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, to have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading which is kept in heaven for them. To be Sons and daughters of the living God, to have redemption through the blood of Christ, to be forgiven of all trespasses, and to be sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. These eternal blessings belong to those who are Christians and what great privileges they are. It is true that at last, when the Son of God comes to visit the earth again, he will claim everything (forcefully) to be his and there is nothing that none can do to prohibit him. The whole earth and heaven may stand together, all of the governments of this world and under the earth may have their treacherous counsel to plot against the anointed One, but in vain do they plot. With his great power, the Son of God will claim his universe and renew it and every soul will bow their knee to recognize his absolute, supreme sovereignty. It is therefore necessary, that being a Christian is the best decision one can make, for every good thing at last will be yours. God is yours for all of eternity and you are his. You are blessed with a sweet eternal life and in this life you have the great honour of being an ambassador of the great king. You are his representative, his delegate to humanity.
But as it is, there are many who will not heed such a call, and like Agrippa, who will not go the full distance and become Christians (not yet persuaded) and there are many reasons for that.
- Many do not know what true Christianity is - There are very few people who acknowledge what true Christianity actually is, which is, a union with Christ, even more, a union with the whole trinity. Our blessed Lord once said ‘And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ His beloved disciple also tells us what the true nature of Christianity is; ‘and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.’ Some people know not this kind of Christianity but they are very familiar with a moral, dutiful religion where a great deal of emphasis is placed on performance and rites. They are familiar with the form but know nothing of its power, and of the second birth which is of the Spirit and not of the letter. They are but strangers and pilgrims to the inner working of the Spirit and aliens to the living waters of Christ. Many of these kind may have gone to church for years, be very leaned in Christian doctrine and familiar with Christian practices but they have never been born again.
- A fear of man - For the fear of being laughed at or ridiculed by the popular media or by the wise professor of this world, many relinquish their desires to be true Christians. These are found to be fine concealers, like those who hide their light under a bushel, who camouflage their faith by imitating the colours of the surrounding environment. Like Peter they would deny ever having any associations with Christ, and unlike Peter never repenting of such hypocrisy. Christ among their worldly friends is a thorn, a thorn to their reputation and pride. Among Christians they would champions his name as if they have already died for him a thousand times but amidst their worldly friends they would be quick to play the part of the ignorant and scarcely affirm those orthodox doctrine associated with his name. The Lord Jesus Christ gave warning to such men that if they should deny him before men, He would deny them before his Father and the angels.
- The love of money - The rich young man when he understood that he must part with his money in order to follow Christ went away sad and sorrowful. He learnt that mammon and Christ have no union. Many in our day, because of the love of money, because of the love of the world, when they find out the truth that old wine skins and new wine skins cannot mix will sorrowfully depart from Christ and slowly apprehend those things which the gospel of Christ has called them to forsake. Like a dog to his vomit, they will return.
- The love of pleasure - Our generation seeks pleasure and they seeks it ravenously. They must have it by any means and thus when they hear the gospel of self-denial, they wash their hands from having a part of such a decree. They distort the message in order to suit their need or altogether forsake it because it is not in accord with the want of their flesh.
Some may say that it is foolish to believe such a message and thus not become a Christian. True, that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but yet it is the foolishness of God and thus wiser than the wisdom of men. Paul, in his defence before ignorant Festus declared of his gospel that ‘I am not out of my mind but I am speaking true and rational words.’ The gospel message is very rational for it says that Man is sinful and God his Holy and this Holy God has provided an atonement for their sins, the man Christ Jesus. Believe, and you will live by faith and through faith.
In a short or long time, I hope my life will be spent in persuading all to become Christians and become like Christ. I hope never to be ashamed when the humanitarian ask of me, 'why do you do such good deeds?' I pray I may reply - 'I wish them all to see the good works my Father in heaven has prepared for me to do; to give him all glory and for them to all become Christians.' Such replies should never be hidden under a bushel but to be placed on the candle stick.