Almost Isn’t Good Enough: A Reason for the Defense Part 10

Part 10: Require a Response to the Gospel Message (Acts 26:27-28)

 
When all is said and done, the answer to every question boils down to “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” This is not the case, however, when we’re asked or we ask someone else about accepting Christ as Personal Savior. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in Acts 26:27:28 when talking to King Agrippa. On today, I’ll discuss how interrogative, declarative, and evasive statements exemplify Principle #10: Require A Response to the Gospel Message. As a context to these verses, Paul previously rejects Festus’ claims of his insanity when discussing Christ’s resurrection and redirects his attention to King Agrippa.
 
Acts 26:27 contains Paul’s interrogative statement: “[Do] you believe the Prophets?” (NASB). Grammatically, an interrogative statement consists of posing a question. Notice Paul’s strategy behind his interrogative statement which we should imitate when witnessing to unbelievers. First, his question has a premise of common or universal knowledge. The verb “believe” focuses on irrefutable evidence of the veracity of scriptures and those who teach them. In other words, Paul reminds Agrippa that the Prophets were real people who taught Old Testament Scriptures which foretold of Christ the Savior. Secondly, his question also contains the word “believe” because it relates to belief leading to having saving faith to accept this same Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.
Paul’s approach is simple but effective. It’s not enough to simply “believe” in a vague concept of religion because even demons “believe” in the reality of Christ but they reject the plan of salvation (James 2:19). How many of us encounter people who blindly believe in anything just to believe in something? An interrogative statement invites a common sense approach to apologetics.
 
Paul follows his interrogative statement with a declarative one in the latter part of verse 27: “I know that you do.” Declarative statements imply a confident and emphatic agreement to what has been previously said. Here, Paul reminds us of the importance of emphasizing an important truth of the Gospel: we should lovingly but firmly address unbelievers’ tendency to deny the undeniable. We can easily point to God’s presence through the lens of natural revelation based on things we can see, i.e. clouds, rock formations, the sun, the animal kingdom, etc. In other words, it’s undeniable that creation (the universe) and creatures (humans and animals) must have a Creator. His name is God (Psalms 19:1-14). From there, we can shift conversation to our compelling Christian worldview grounded by the Holy Trinity; sin; and reasons behind Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
 
While Acts 26:27 focuses on interrogative and declarative statements, verse 28 includes an evasive statement. In general, people make evasive statements to avoid addressing an issue at hand or to provide an ambiguous response.
 
Rather than explicitly stating whether he accepts or rejects Paul’s call to salvation, King Agrippa comments on his view about Paul’s ineffective persuasive speech. This leads to several considerations for us. First, effective evangelism does not depend on our charisma or oral presentation skills but on the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-11 and 1 Corinthians 4:20-21). By the same token, Christians should always be prepared to provide a clear, accurate, and logical apologetic defense of the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15-16).
 
Second, we should expect evasive statements from unbelievers who may want to redirect the focus of conversation. How can we get the conversation back on track if this occurs? I’ll share some strategies next week as we conclude with our last principle.

Leave a Reply