Topic: Faith Passage: Acts 26:24–26:29
Here’s one of the most important questions that every person needs to answer: who is crazy in this story, Paul or Festus? The Christian or the non-Christian? Paul is a prisoner in chains because of his passion and love for God, but governor Festus is free and in worldly control of Paul’s situation. Consider the story of Peter Cameron Scott, a missionary to Africa. Surely he wasted his life… if Christ did not rise from the dead. But if what Paul is preaching is true then he is one of the sanest human beings to ever live. In 1895, Scott established the African English mission, but just 14 months later he fell ill and died. The mission nearly failed, with only one remaining missionary by 1899. But the mission persisted, and ten years later there were 31 missionaries. By 1971, there were 1.5 million members in the church. Was Peter Cameron Scott a lunatic? Did he waste his life? Who are the crazy ones today, those who live for this present world or those who love Jesus and walk with Him in the light of eternity? Jesus answered that question in Mark 8:36.
As Paul makes his defense against the accusations of the Jews, he will not waste his opportunity to preach the gospel, with the hope that the Holy Spirit would change people’s hearts and eternities. But while he is preaching, he is interrupted by the governor Festus (Acts 26:24) and accused of going out of his mind. So who is sane and who is insane, those represented by Festus or Paul? Insanity is to live for this present world while ignoring the reality that you have been created by God and will face Him one day. Festus and Paul were both sincere in their beliefs. But sincerity is not the measure of sanity; truth and reality are. Jim Elliot, a missionary murdered in Ecuador, said the same thing Paul said in different words: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”
Success… one of the most ambiguous words. Festus and King Agrippa were both considered successful in the world’s eyes. And yet Paul was by far the most successful one in the room that day. A plea to young people: see the world that way; see your life and your decisions in light of eternity. Paul was not out of his mind because he knew the truth - we are all on the way to death and judgment and the only way to be delivered is by trusting in Christ. Paul was the sane one, and so are all those who live in the light of the resurrection of Jesus. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 1:8-10 and 1 Thess. 1:9-10.
For Paul and for all of us, true sanity begins at new birth (John 3:3, 8). To be born again is to begin to live in the light of eternity. If Paul were worldly he would have thought he had nothing to offer King Agrippa. But instead he saw the tragedy of King Agrippa, God’s condemnation that lay over him, and the solution: for him to come to Christ and become as Paul was except for his chains (Acts 26:29). Remember, before Paul was interrupted, he did make it clear that those who come to faith in Christ have a radical change in how they live and how they interpret the world (Acts 26:19-20). Before conversion, we all lived for the things of the world. We were insane. But since coming to Christ, the core of our being has been changed. We now have a genuine desire to please the Lord Jesus Christ (Cf. Phil. 3:7-8). Paul, by God’s grace, was the wisest man in the room. The free gift of forgiveness and the promise of joy forever - that’s what drives Christians. Jesus has been raised from the dead, and we shall be raised with Him. That’s why Jesus invites us to come and follow Him (Mark 8:34-35). Paul, by God’s sheer grace and mercy was turned from insanity to crystal clear thinking and living (Cf. 2 Cor. 4:6). That’s what led Paul to live as he did. And that did lead him to worldly pain (2 Cor. 4:8-9, 13-14). But that’s how people in their right minds live. Paul was not out of his mind. His life, imprisonment, sufferings, and decisions all made perfect sense in the light of eternity.