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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 23: Address Before Agrippa.

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Did the mind of Agrippa at these words revert to the past history of his family, and their fruitless efforts against Him whom Paul was preaching? Did he think of his great-grandfather Herod, and the massacre of the innocent children of Bethlehem? of his great-uncle Antipas, and the murder of John the Baptist? of his [p. 256] own father, Agrippa I., and the martyrdom of the apostle James? Did he see in the disasters which speedily befell these kings an evidence of the displeasure of God in consequence of their crimes against his servants? Did the pomp and display of that day remind Agrippa of the time when his own father, a monarch more powerful than he, stood in that same city, attired in glittering robes, while the people shouted that he was a god? Had he forgotten how, even before the admiring shouts had died away, vengeance, swift and terrible, had befallen the vainglorious king? Something of all this flitted across Agrippa's memory; but his vanity was flattered by the brilliant scene before him, and pride and self-importance banished all nobler thoughts.

Paul again related the familiar story of his conversion from the stubborn unbelief of a rigid and bigoted Pharisee to faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the world's Redeemer. He described the heavenly vision that filled him with unspeakable terror, though afterward it proved to be a source of the greatest consolation,—a revelation of divine glory, in the midst of which sat enthroned Him whom he had despised and hated, whose followers he was even then seeking to destroy. Transforming mercy had made Paul a new man from that hour, a sincere penitent and a fervent believer in Jesus. It was then that he was called to be an apostle of Christ, "by the will of God."

Paul had never seen Christ while he dwelt upon the earth. He had indeed heard of him and his works, but he could not believe that the promised Messiah, the Creator of all worlds, the Giver of all blessings, would appear upon earth [p. 257] as a mere man. He had looked for him to come in robes of majesty, attended with royal pomp, and proclaimed by the angelic host as king of the Jews. But he found that he had not read the Scriptures aright; Christ came as prophecy foretold, a humble man, preaching the word of life in meekness and humility. He came to awaken the noblest impulses of the soul, to satisfy its longings, and to crown the work and warfare of life with infinite reward.

Paul had vainly looked for a Messiah to deliver the nation from the bondage of foreign kings, but he had found in Christ a Saviour from the bondage of sin. Life had been to him a blind and baffling conflict, an unequal battle, a fever of unsatisfied desires, until he had seen Christ. Then his longings were satisfied, his fears banished, his burdens lightened. He had found Him of whom Moses and the prophets had written, —Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour of the world.

Why, he asked, should it appear incredible that Christ should rise from the dead? It had once been so to himself; but how could he disbelieve what he had himself seen and heard in that noonday vision? He could bear witness to the resurrection of the dead; for he had looked upon the crucified and risen Christ,—the same who walked the streets of Jerusalem, who died on Calvary, who broke the bands of death, and ascended to Heaven from Olivet. He had seen him and had talked with him as verily as had Cephas, James, John, or any other of the disciples. And how could he be disobedient when the Voice from Heaven sent him forth to open the eyes of Jews and Gentiles, that they might turn from darkness to light, and from the power [p. 258] of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified? In Damascus, in Jerusalem, and throughout all Judea, and to the Gentiles, he had preached repentance toward God, faith in Christ, and a life consistent therewith.

This, and this only, was what led the Jews to seize him in the temple, and seek to put him to death; but the Lord had delivered him from this and every other danger. The testimony which he bore concerning Jesus of Nazareth was no blasphemy, no heresy, no apostasy, but a truth in perfect harmony with all the teachings of Moses and the prophets.

Part:  A  B  C

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