Acts 22:1 – Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Hello readers, thanks for reading today. We are in Acts 22 today, Paul has gone to Jerusalem, and they’re after him. Who is they? The religious crowd. Jews are on his case. So often it’s the brethren, or so called brethren, that are the worst enemies of truth… of Christ. The same crowd who was after Jesus are after Paul. If you are going to follow Jesus, you’ll cop the same he copped. They hated him, they’ll hate you. You’re not going to be the exception. This was a mob that Paul had belonged to when he was called Saul. Paul had been part of the religious crowd. He’d been one of them. You know, in amongst all the religion, someone seeking truth can find Jesus Christ. That same old religious crowd did quite a lot of damage throughout history, they persecuted God’s men, they killed them… and then said nice things at their funeral. They were after Christ. They’re a relentless bunch, they’re hard hearted and proud and self righteous, and if you change teams on them, they’ll hate you though you were once one of them. God wants to save you out of religion, he wants to take you to the cross, to the faith of Christ. That religious crowd isn’t changing… but you can be saved out of it. If you’re seeking and searching, you will find Jesus Christ… he promises that.
Paul coming to Jerusalem caused a storm. It’s amazing how controversial a Christian is. It’s amazing how controversial truth has become. Simple truths that underpinned the greatest nations and societies are now controversial. It’s considered radical to believe the Bible. You’re a crazy, you’re a nut. And by controversial, I mean, people get so upset at someone simply standing on God’s word. You’d think controversial would be abortion and sodomite marriage and changing God’s word with no fear of messing with the authorship of the Holy Spirit … but hey that’s all normal. But when someone preaches the gospel and stands for truth, wow the firestorm.
Paul was on trial here. Expect to be on trial for your faith. This world will put any Christian on trial. Why is someone who believes the Bible on trial constantly? And who weren’t tolerant, who were doing all the judging? If you believe God, you will be tried by this world for that faith. You’ll be tried by false brethren, by people claiming to be Christians. This world puts anyone who will follow Christ on trial for their faith.
Paul was initially called Saul. He was a Christian killer. He was loved and celebrated by the religious elite. He was their weapon, their asset. He was their best. But he was ignorant and blind. And all it really was was that he was against Jesus Christ. You see, the unbelieving world is really just against Christ. At the root of it all is old fashioned rebellion against God’s word.
Persecution is part of Christian living. We live in a time of modern organized Christianity that doesn’t want persecution but popularity and acceptance. People are willing to sacrifice truth in order to be accepted. People want to integrate not stand apart and cleave unto the truth. Persecution free Christianity isn’t real Christianity. Because the Christians in it aren’t saved. They’re not separate, they’re not sanctified, they’re not salt… because they’re not saved.
People had heard what they wanted to hear all though Paul’s ministry. Was he really against Moses? Was he really against obeying God’s word? No. The thing is though, people just hear what they want to hear. They would hear Paul defend himself, and they bayed even more for his blood. They’re not interested in truth. They had this big problem with Paul because he rubbished their dead religion. Paul knew about Moses more than they did. He knew the God of Moses. The Jews were obsessed with keeping the law, but they didn’t even keep it. Their self righteousness blinded them to Christ’s righteousness, which if you don’t have, you are going to hell. None of us are good enough, none of us have what it takes to make it on our own merits. You know, the law was entirely pointing to the Christ they rejected.
But the point of this blog is changing teams. Because this same crowd that was now after him, well he had been their ace, their champion in times past. Paul thought surely they’d at least think about it. Surely they’d think… why has this man changed so much? You’ll realize people aren’t so happy when you change to the Lord’s team. People will turn on you in a heartbeat. God spoke to Paul in Acts 22:18 – And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. It didn’t matter who it was, remember Nicodemus voiced up and they tore into him. See, Paul thought they’d get it. Such a dramatic turnaround in his life, surely they would hear. Surely they’d put some stock in what he was saying seeing he’d been such a big player for their side in time past. But nup, they turned on him with no quarter given.
You know, Paul’s conversion really shone a light on their own sin. When some gets saved, when someone sees the light, when someone is following Jesus Christ and walking in truth… it automatically convicts everyone else around them. People feel convicted by you just because of Christ in you. Paul’s life made them feel guilty of the blood they had shed, innocent blood. But rather than confess their sin and repent… rather than owning it, it’s easier to persecute anyone who will cause sin in my life to revive right.
People are willing to bury a Paul rather than confront the fact they are in the wrong. Make Paul the bad guy to preserve our reputation. Paul’s faithful service to them meant nothing to them. Paul had been their champion in times past. He’d been the lead Christian killer, he’d had a lot of zeal, he was their weapon. But he’d seen the light. But were they happy for him? Not a bit. They wanted to kill him just like they’d been after Jesus and all those prophets beforehand all the way back to Abel.
People’s loyalty and love only runs as far as you going along with them. When you get saved, people who used to be your friends will turn on you. If they reject Christ, then they’ll also reject someone who has Christ in them. If they hate the light, then they’ll hate you shining as a light in this dark world.
Paul said… I was one of you! He sat at the feet of Gamaliel. Paul had an elite religious training. But all that did was take him further from Jesus Christ. It was in the desert of Arabia where Paul got to know the Lord Jesus Christ. You can have all the religious training in the world, but that’ll just take you further from the truth. All of Paul’s religious training ended in a man who was a Christian killer, who was persecuting Jesus Christ in all of his religious zeal.
Paul wanted others to be saved, to see the same light he had seen. But they didn’t want it. We want to help others, but they don’t want help do they. Paul made his defense… but he didn’t defend his sin. He owned what he had done. His defense was based on who Jesus is and what Jesus had done for him. Our defense should never rest upon our performance, but on what Jesus accomplished on the cross, on who Jesus Christ is. Paul admitted he was wrong in all his religious zeal… but it meant those that thought and lived like he had in times past were wrong! It’s hard to see and admit you’re wrong. It’s hard to see and admit what you truly are isn’t it. Paul’s defense wasn’t about how good he was, it was about what Christ had done for him. There are many people you will never ever be convinced, they’ll never see it your way. All you can tell them is God’s word. All you can tell them is about the Christ who changed your life. And boy did Christ change Paul’s life, what a change it was… you see, your life will evidence the truth.
Paul didn’t understand why Jesus told him to get out after his conversion. He said to God, but they know me, they know who I’ve been, they’ll get it! They’ll understand! But they didn’t. They didn’t, because unlike Paul, they were not interested in the truth. God sent Paul to a people who would hear… the Gentiles. People that weren’t fit for the gospel, that’s who God sent Paul to. People who would have ears to hear and eyes to see. People who weren’t deluded about who they were, people capable of receiving the light that came to them.
What an insult Paul made to these people that were after him. Hey, God knows you’re not interested so he sent me to a far land. Of course, they thought that made Paul better than them. How often you follow Christ and people think “you’re better than me”. No it’s not, it’s just you’re not walking the same road I’m on. You’re not interested in Jesus Christ. You’ve never been stopped on your road of life. Paul was utterly stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus. A Christian killer, a religious zealot got saved. Jesus turned the lights on. Paul came to know Christ personally. For all his religious training, for all his theology, for all his degrees in law, for all of that… Paul later said he counted that all dung to win Christ. Paul needed to unlearn all the rubbish he’d been taught, that’d so infected his thinking he’d ended up killing believers.
If you turn to Christ, it’ll separate you from people that hate Christ. You’ll have no commonality with them before. The same mob he’d been part of was the same mob that wanted him dead. They didn’t even think it was fit for him to live. Imagine being Paul, being that man who’d been the best of them, the most zealous of them, the most trained, the most qualified… and that same crowd who’d he been mates with… they don’t want a bar of what he has to say or the God he serves. He told them the truth, that’s all he could do. These people just didn’t want the truth. That’s why God sent him elsewhere. You know, there’s a whole world out there, many people in it who will hear… so why bother preaching to the same Christ rejecting crowd your whole life? Give people the truth, give them God’s word, then move on when they reject it. Paul moved on from that mob, he’d found Jesus Christ, he’d found the truth. And as much as he wanted them to see, they didn’t want any of it. They didn’t even consider why Paul had changed, they’d just turn on anyone who stepped out of line.
They didn’t receive Paul’s testimony… because they didn’t receive Christ’s testimony. If you get saved, don’t expect to be the first man or woman to follow Christ and retain adulation and adoration from your peers. No man can serve two masters. When you change teams… turns out people aren’t happy. Turns out people don’t even think you deserve to live anymore. Turns out you’re the bad guy. Paul wanted to go back and tell this mob what had happened, to tell them about Jesus Christ… but they hated Jesus! Many people don’t want Jesus Christ, go to the people that will hear the gospel. Jesus did give the truth to the scribes and Pharisees, but he went to where there were people that would believe on him… if you look at the people he went to, he found that people that needed light, that needed saving. It’s ok if people don’t understand, it’s because they hate Jesus Christ. If they’ve rejected his word, they’ll reject your testimony of him as well. That’s life as a believer.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ, if you’re not in the truth… it’s time to change teams. Look at this verse… Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He’ll hear you when you call upon him in truth. You can’t come to him if you’re not interested in truth… and what is truth… God’s word. Come to him on the basis of the truth of his word… so many people call on him but aren’t interested in the truth at all. Paul’s defense was based on his salvation. What a testimony it was, he said I was wrong, he admitted his sin, he admitted his error. But wow that insulted the rest of him who were just like who he had been. They weren’t happy for him, they weren’t happy to hear, they didn’t understand, they didn’t want to understand.
There’s a cost to following Jesus Christ, and God will sort out who you really are following, where you heart truly is… what is truly in your heart. Often what’s really in our heart is shocking. To be honest, all our problems with sin is really because we love sin. We just don’t love Jesus Christ, we don’t love truth deep down… if we had our heart right then everything else would fall into line. Has the light come on for you as it came on for Paul? Paul got saved and Paul got sent… see, salvation isn’t just forgiveness but it’s a new life, it’s new purpose, it’s new direction, it’s a new master… the Lord. And guess who hated Paul the most… his former peers? But he didn’t care… because he knew Jesus Christ. He gave them the truth, he testified of Christ’s work in his life… such power in it, because it convicted the mob… and really brought out what was deep in them… hatred and rebellion toward the God they claimed to serve.
Paul might’ve supposed they’d understand and accept Jesus because it was him… because it was Saul their mate… their good mate from the Jewish synagogue. Moses supposed people would understand that God had called him to deliver Israel. But where did that end up? Don’t suppose upon other people. Paul could’ve waited his whole life waiting for his Jewish mates to accept Jesus Christ and never gone anywhere with his life. You know the light had come, and it’d sorted out who wanted light and who didn’t. That’s why Jesus said he came for judgement into this world. You judge yourself by what you do with the truth that has come to you when you throw it in God’s face. God sent Paul away to where there were people who wanted the truth. People that had no temple and no religious pretense. Often those most lost are Christians, because they’ve been so blinded to truth in all their religion. If the words of Christ didn’t convince this mob… what could Paul really do? Did Paul have greater words? Greater power? Greater intellect than God? That’s why you give people the gospel and that sorts out who wants truth and who doesn’t. Others may never be where you’re at… why? Because they’re not on the road you’re going. They’ve never been on the Damascus road… they’ve never had their vision changed, they’ll never see things like you do… because they’ve rejected the Christ who gives the different vision. Scales fell of Paul’s eyes, and he viewed the world differently, and he wasn’t going to wallow around in religious mire, but God was going to use him to sow the seed of the word where there’d be people who hadn’t heard it, who hadn’t proved their rejection for truth over and over.
If you reject the word of God, as they did, there’s nothing more that can be done for you. Paul gave them God’s word… so what more could he add on top of that? If they reject Christ, no amount of debating, disputing, and dialogue would convince them either. Why do you think Paul came with the gospel of Jesus Christ… if they reject that… then there’s nothing else to add. If God’s word doesn’t do it for you, nothing will, it’s that simple. It’s not these guys didn’t have truth and light… it’s they rejected it. Because they loved darkness, they weren’t children of God… despite their claims of having God as their Father. See, they were deceived about who and what they truly were. God sent Paul elsewhere because these guys rejected truth… so Paul could’ve spent his whole life trying to win his old mates, but because they rejected God’s word, they’d reject his defense also, no matter what he said, no matter what appeal he made.
Have you rejected God’s word reader? If that doesn’t do it for you, if the gospel doesn’t change you… there’s nothing that can be done for you. The sin of unbelief, the sin of rejecting Christ… that’s what will send you to hell. It’s not you can’t be forgiven, it’s you don’t want forgiveness. It’s not you can’t be saved, it’s you don’t need to be saved… you don’t need a Saviour. May God turn the lights on in your life today. You’ll never regret getting saved, you’ll never regret changing teams, you’ll never regret following Christ. Sure it cost Paul a lot, it cost him acceptance with his former mob, but it was worth it for Christ. You can’t unsee truth once you’ve seen it just like you can’t get unsaved once you’re saved. Paul saw differently, Paul understood differently, because he’d found Christ, he’d seen the light, the scales fell off and he was a new man with a new purpose, there was no room for looking back.
We all have an old crowd we used to run with, and yes you’re the bad guy in their mind, and yes you’re the guy going through the rough times, you’re the guy on trial… but it’s worth it for Christ. Paul’s defense wasn’t based on how good he was, because he wasn’t… it was based on the glorious salvation Jesus Christ had given him. And you know what, it made others mad, it made them hate him, even his old mates. Religion hates someone who is walking in the light, who has been with Christ. Don’t waste your life looking for acceptance and waiting on others to understand or see things your way, go and give people the gospel, tell people how to be saved, and that’ll sort people out, leave em with God. Changing teams is worth it, not because we changed, but because Christ revealed himself to you, the light came on, and it changed you, and you’re not the same guy anymore. Paul wasn’t the same guy anymore, he was changed. A salvation without change is not true salvation. Salvation makes you see, live and do very differently. Dead religion can’t save you, but the Lord Jesus Christ, alive forevermore from the dead, he surely can. Paul knew that Jesus, and you can know that same Jesus Christ, you can see the light, you can be changed, and you can find forgiveness and eternal life in him. It’s worth it.
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)