Paul statueIn Acts 13:12, a politician actually repents and believes on Christ.  What do you think of that?  How in the world did that happen?  Isn’t that the antithesis of what we would expect?

What did Paul say to this leader, Sergius Paulus, to convince him to trust in Christ?  The passage doesn’t recount Paul’s words, but other passages do, filling in the blanks of Acts 13:12, which just says Sergius was “amazed at the teaching of the Lord“.

Paul probably said what he usually said.  The man stayed on task, you have to admit.  When he stood before King Agrippa in Acts 26, I think we get a pretty good idea of Paul’s message to Sergius Paulus (and other leaders he addressed throughout his ministry).  We also get a good insight into the message the Church is still responsible to take to government officials.

1)  Personal testimony – Paul did this several times through Acts, but he recalled for Agrippa his personal encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus.  What did he share?

*  His previous life – “And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them” (26:10).  Paul honestly identified himself as a sinner in need of forgiveness.

*  When he met Christ – “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.  And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting’” (26:12-15).  Paul pinpoints the time he heard Christ’s message stopping him in his tracks.

*  The call to follow and serve – “‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me'” (26:16-18).  Paul’s affirms why he sharing this message in the first place.  It is good news for all sinners.

*  His obedience – “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (26:19-20)

 2)  The Gospel – “that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (26:23).  Christ’s death and resurrection was central to Paul’s interactions with leaders of his day.

3)  An apologetic opportunity – “While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.  For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner” (26:24-26).  Notice Paul handles objections that come up during his statements from a by-standing political leader, Festus.  This could easily have occurred before Sergius as well.

4)  An appeal for decisions – “Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, ‘I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains’” (26:28-29).  Agrippa didn’t believe, Sergius did, but Paul’s desire was the same for both rulers.

Can you see yourself saying these things to your governmental leaders?  Can you pray for open doors so that others might take this message to them?  Do you even have thoughts of caring for your public officials spiritually?  How we answer these questions will determine to what extent the Body of Christ will carry out the mandate to make disciples of every nation, including political types.

For many in today’s American church, this is going to take a major change in mindset, priority and action.