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The Power of a Changed Life

Acts 21:37-22:22 (NKJV); Addressing the Jerusalem Mob

37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”

He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”

39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”

40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

Paul’s Defense at Jerusalem

22 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.

Then he said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

The Power of a Changed Life? 3 Transformative Truths concerning a Changed Life:

  1. Get r_____ to share your t______ because an o_______ will come at often inopportune times (21:37-22:2).
  • Paul was misunderstood by several groups of people:
    • He was misunderstood by the _______ Christians.
    • He was misunderstood by the angry ______.
    • He was misunderstood by the military ________.
  • Paul used this horrible situation as an opportunity to share the G______.
  • Paul gave a d_______ of the Gospel. This is the Greek word apologia which means to make a verbal defense of your position. This is often used in a legal sense as a way of clearing one’s name or case.[1]

I Peter 3:15; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Ephesians 5:16 (NLT); Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

  1. Use Paul’s t_______ as a t______ to share your testimony (22:1-16).
  • Let’s explore the essence of Paul’s salvation experience:
  • Learning to share your story—2 actions and 3 main points:

Action #1- Connect with you’re a_________ (or person).

  • Paul spoke their language—in the Aramaic.
  • Paul appealed to their culture—highlighting his Jewish heritage:

Main Points:

  • My life _______
  • How I ____ ____ ______ Jesus as my Savior.

Scripture Insight: “What is repentance?” Repentance is a change of mind with a corresponding change of heart and a change of life. Once God changes your mind and your heart, your life also changes. If your heart is not changed, your life is not changed. If your life is not changed, you have never really repented in the first place.

  • What my life has been like _____ I became a Christian.
    • Saul responded with obedience to God’s call to follow him.
    • Saul who once was physically blind can now see again!
    • Saul received his call to ministry: To build up the very thing he once tried to destroy.
    • Saul was baptized as an outward expression of the inner change that had occurred in his life.

Action #2-Point your _______ (or person) back to Jesus and see if they would like to also experience the power of a changed life.

Making It Practical: The following is a tool from Campus Crusade for Christ International (CRU), about how to share your personal testimony:

There are five basic parts to telling your story: the opening, your life before Christ, how you came to Christ, your life after Christ and the closing.

  1. The Opening. Identify a theme you can use to frame your story. What did your life revolve around (e.g., relationships, your reputation, money) that God used to help bring you to Him? Briefly illustrate how that influenced your life.
  2. Your Life Before Christ. Paint a picture of what your life was like before you came to Christ. Don’t dwell too much on or brag about past sins or struggles. Share only the details that relate to your theme — just enough to show your need for Christ.
  3. How You Came to Christ. Give the details about why and how you became a Christian. Communicate in such a way that the person you are talking with, and anyone who overhears you, can understand how they can become a Christian too. Even if your listeners are not ready for that, God could use your story and explanation of the gospel to draw them to Himself in the future.
  4. Your Life After Coming to Christ. Share some of the changes that Christ has made in your life as they relate to your theme. Emphasize the changes in your character, attitude or perspective, not just the changes in behavior. Be realistic. We still struggle as Christians. Life is far from perfect. But what’s different about your life now?
  5. The Closing. End with a statement that summarizes your story and connects everything back to your theme. You may even want to close with a Bible verse that relates to your experience.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Pray before you write out and share your story.
  • Write the way you speak.
  • Don’t be overly negative or positive. Be honest.
  • Don’t criticize or name any church, denomination, organization, etc.
  • Think about your listeners. Avoid overly religious terms.
  • Keep it short. Aim to tell your story in three to five minutes.
  • Practice telling your story until it becomes natural.”[2]
  1. Willingly s______ the h_____ that you have with others (Acts 22).
  • Notice that Paul was not only ready, but he was willing to share Christ with others.
  • Paul went to Jerusalem knowing that his life would be a living testimony for the Good News about Jesus.
  • Paul was warned that trouble awaiting him in Jerusalem, but he went anyway (Acts 21:1-14).

Today’s Take-Away (The Big Idea): Your story is an epic one when Jesus is the hero of your life—this is the power of a changed life!

Action Steps (Applications):

  • Take 15 minutes this week to write out your testimony using the example given:

1) My life before Jesus.

2) How I came to know Jesus as my Savior.

3) What my life has been like since I became a Christian.

  • Pray and ask God for an opportunity to share your story with someone this week that God places in your path or someone that you feel called to reach out to.
  • Let us know when you have a Gospel Conversation. Email the church office at office@ardenfbc.com so that we can keep track of our Gospel efforts. Our goal for this year is 1,000 Gospel Conversations.

Preview for next week: “Let’s Change the World.” Part 2: Born Free. Acts 22:22-29.

[1] See Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament words.

[2] Article was taken from Campus Crusade for Christ International (CRU), https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/share-the-gospel/evangelism-principles/preparing-your-personal-testimony.html.

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