When called upon to testify
When called upon to testify
“As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” ‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.’ ... ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:6-8, 14-15
In Acts 22, Paul was confronted by an angry mob accusing him that he had brought a Gentile into the temple area closed to them and thus had defiled the temple. It was a charge that has no basis and without a shred of evidence to support it. If Paul had been guilty of the charge, where was the Gentile that he had supposedly brought into the temple? Yet Paul chose not to follow this line of reasoning. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to try to share the gospel to his fellow countrymen. Even though he had barely had time to catch his breath from the beating he received from the mob, yet his first thoughts were to try to reach his people with the gospel. In his defense, he began to speak to them in their native language which was Hebrew. When they heard him spoke in their language, they became very quiet and gave him their attention. He was a Jew born in Tarsus, a major city in the Roman Empire and was no simple person from a remote country village. He had studied under Gamaliel, a highly respected Jewish teacher who had died only half-dozen years earlier. To be trained under this famous Jewish teacher meant that Paul was thoroughly trained in the law of the fathers, a fact to which some of his Jewish opponents would readily attest. He was also just as zealous for God as any of them. As evidence of his zeal, Paul pointed out that he had been a persecutor of those who followed the Way, Christians, that is. He was responsible for throwing men and women into prison and even for the execution of some of them. He had readily given his approval to the stoning of Stephen. The high priest and the council could testify to his acts of persecution. They had, after all, provided him letters giving him the authority to go to Damascus and seek out and persecute Christians there. As he hurried toward Damascus, he had heard a voice calling his name, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 22:7). It was the Lord Himself as He identifies himself as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Then he gave a condensed account of his conversion experience for the details were not essential for his purpose. He pointed out that God had called him to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear His words. Then he was to become a witness to all men of all that he had seen and heard. He will be God’s witness to both Jews and Gentiles. Just like Paul, we too are called upon to tell others of what we experienced when we came to know Christ as Lord and Savior. People may doubt our theology, but our own story of personal conversion is the heart of convincing testimony. This is true especially when we back it up by godly living. When God brings us to a saving knowledge of Christ, we should know that He will use us to serve Him. Though this knowledge may not come immediately, but as we open our lives to God and show that we are willing to obey then He will guide us to what we need to know and do.