There is a debate about what people call success. In the church, we often look at success as bigger and better; the numbers will determine how successful we are. After reading a book called, Liberating Your Ministry from Success Syndrome, I tend to see success as faithfulness in following God’s call on your life. Paul wanted to bear fruit in Jerusalem more than any place else on earth, but he found greater opposition and struggle than anywhere else on his journeys.
At first the commander thought Paul was a terrorist from Egypt (Acts 21:38), but he was actually an ambassador of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20). These people beat Paul with their fists (Acts 21:32) and all he wanted was to share his testimony (Acts 21:39). Acts 22 has a great model for sharing our faith in Christ.
Paul communicated simply and clearly: He spoke to the commander in Greek (Acts 21:37) and to the Jews he spoke Aramaic (Hebrew dialect, Acts 21:40, 22:2). Few of us are fluent in more than one language, but here Paul demonstrates his ability to communicate in at least two languages. As a Roman citizen, I can imagine he spoke Latin as well. As Christians, we often have our own language (church-speak) that people on the outside just don’t understand: salvation, regeneration, justification, born again, conversion, burden, atonement, walk the aisle, prayed the prayer, was baptized, body of Christ… you get it… but many people don’t.
Paul honestly described his former conduct (Acts 22:3-5): We lose our listeners when they sense an attitude of superiority in us. We must be careful not to magnify the former life with details, so generalizations are best. Let’s have people focus on the Savior rather than the behavior.
Paul related his experience of conversion (Acts 22:6-11): This is where we tell others how we actually came to know Christ. It need not be dramatic because the same blood rescues each of us. Like the Prodigal Son, who was involved in wild living (Luke 15:29-30), the faithful son needed salvation just as much.
Paul shared how he received his commission: He was clear about the purpose God had for him (Acts 22:12-21). Lots of people will not come to Christ believing their is too much to give up, but I submit to you that we need to tell people all that we have gained.
Once Paul mentioned he was appointed to reach the Gentiles, he lost his audience (Acts 22:22). Was he a failure because they rejected him? Was his testimony shared in vain? He did not plant a church, start a small group, or even leave behind any discipling relationships, but they heard his message (otherwise they would not have responded to violently). There is freedom in following Christ. We are to be faithful in our serving and testimony, but must always leave the results up to the Holy Spirit. We are not called to be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life. The Spirit convicts of sin.
Application: If you are a child of God, you have a story worth telling. Are you exercising your witness? Have you practiced sharing your faith with a brother in Christ? It is only after you practice in private that sharing in public with a lost person becomes easier and more natural. Consider writing out your testimony using these steps:
My life before I met Christ:
How I came to know Christ:
The difference Christ has made in my life:
Planning, preparation, practice and presentation lead to the progress of the gospel. We are called to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and be ready at all times to give an account of the hope we have inside us (1 Peter 3:15). How can the Men of Steel help you become more faithful, and even more successful?