Our text is Acts 25:13-26:32.
In chapter 26, Paul’s speech is stated carefully and stylistically; it is appropriate for his audience. This speech is similar to Paul’s speech before the Jewish mob (22:1-21). Within this life summary, two themes dominate. First, Paul magnifies the cross and the resurrection (26:6-8, 22-23). Second, Paul insists that this new faith is actually an extension, or fulfillment of the Old Covenant—the Covenant of Grace. While Paul addresses a largely Gentile assembly and alludes to a number of witnesses present, the speech is more for Agrippa’s benefit than anyone else’s. Paul tries to persuade King Agrippa to bow before King Jesus. Paul is a man with a commission. He is not pouting, complaining, or trying to negotiate a deal with this ruler. He is preaching the gospel to him.
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught in the sermon. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on these links for a children’s bulletin and printable activity pages to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Jesus Is Lord Coloring Page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
Psalm 84:1-4, 10
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (ESV)
Almighty God, this morning as we bow in your presence and offer our hearts to you, we give thanks not as we ought but as we are able. So by your grace will you enable us to worship you in spirit and truth.
Father, on this final Lord’s day of 2020, we ask that we would encounter you today in the singing of hymns, in the giving of your tithes and our offerings, in the preaching of your word, and in our fellowship with one another.
Reveal to us again this day the resurrected and the living Christ that we would daily trust in him, and continue to grow in our relationship with you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And will you prepare our hearts even now as we prepare to read your word and confess our sins. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Over the course of December, our congregation will be singing Psalm 90. In introducing this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “This is the oldest of the Psalms, and stands between two books of Psalms as a composition unique in its grandeur, and alone in its sublime antiquity. Moses, in effect, says—wanderers though we be in the howling wilderness, yet we find a home in thee. To the saints the Lord Jehovah, the self-existent God, stands instead of mansion and rooftree; he shelters, comforts, protects, preserves, and cherishes all his own. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the saints dwell in their God, and have always done so in all ages. Not in the tabernacle or the temple do we dwell, but in God himself; and this we have always done since there was a church in the world.” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.htm
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)
Almighty God, we have sinned times without number, and have been guilty of pride and of unbelief, and of neglect to seek you in our daily lives. Our sins and shortcomings present us with a list of accusations, but we thank you that they will not stand against us, for all have been laid on Christ.
Loving Father, deliver us from every evil habit, every interest of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of your grace in us, everything that prevents us from taking delight in you. By the power of Holy Spirit, conform us more and more to the image of your Son Jesus as we repent and believe the gospel. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
Jesus was the perfect, all-sufficient atonement for our sins. We are forgiven through the instrument of faith in him, and his righteousness is credited to our account. We are utterly justified before a Holy God. Amen.
Affirmation of Faith:
The Heidelberg Catechism
What are the keys of the kingdom?
The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.
Jesus Is Lord (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
God has given us the blessing and responsibility of stewardship.
Let us serve him with our very lives.
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
We have few clues as to the author and composer of this profound hymn of wonder at the love of Christ for all humanity. The hymn captures our attention right from the beginning with its simplicity and persistence – “What wondrous love is this” sung three times is not the sign of a weak poet, but the expression of a fellow traveler who has experienced profoundly the sacrificial love of Christ and can only express again and again – “What wondrous love is this.”
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: Paul before Agrippa
Our hymn was written in 1910, by J. Wilbur Chapman, a Presbyterian pastor and evangelist who ministered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries preaching over 50,000 sermons to audiences totaling over 60 million including evangelistic campaigns in the United States and across the world, including Canada, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, and the Fiji Islands.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
What does Festus say to Agrippa about Paul in 25:13-22? What do you find most interesting about his statements?
2. How does Paul’s speech in Acts 26 magnify the resurrection?
3. How does Paul’s speech in Acts 26 show Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant?
4. Explain how a person might be “kick[ing] against the goads (26:14)?
5. What do modern believers share in common with Paul’s commission?
6. What does it mean to “perform deeds in keeping with their repentance”? (26:20)
Jesus Is Lord