Answering critics - Explore the Bible for February 18, 2018
Explore the Bible
February 18, 2017
Acts 26:19-26 (HCSB)
I recently told a colleague that his use of the word “crazy” to describe anyone who disagreed him was dismissive and belittling. He took my criticism well. I explained to him that he was having difficulty articulating a rational defense of his view so he resorted to name calling. He called me crazy and walked away.
Paul had a similar experience before Agrippa. He spoke about what really happened in the temple that led to him being attacked and almost killed. He had declared that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah and was alive. He explained his ministry to the Gentiles and God’s offer of repentance and faith to both Jews and Gentiles. Proud nationalistic Israelites wanted nothing to do with Gentiles.
When Paul used the word “Gentiles,” in the temple the crowd wanted him wiped off the face of the earth (Acts 22:22). Festus, who had been listening, had a similar reaction when Paul used the word “Gentiles.” Festus told Paul, “You’re out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). Festus didn’t think he was really mad or crazy. If he did, he would have either had Paul gently removed to a place of rest or he would have delivered the madman to the emperor to be tried. No, Festus’ comment was a sign of conviction in his heart.
Paul explained that he wasn’t mad but he was speaking words of truth and good judgment (Acts 26:25). Paul asked Agrippa if he believed the prophets and added, “I know you believe” (Acts 26:27). Agrippa answered, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?” (Acts 26:28). Agrippa’s response is both condescending and belittling. However, Paul’s reply should be our reply when dealing with critics, “I wish before God that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:29). When answering critics, always give them an opportunity to make a decision about Christ.