Acts 26:19-32 (ESV)
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
In the previous passage, Paul told them how Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Today, he continues, “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
So, Paul is either nuts or he witnessed a real miracle. Festus instantly blows Paul off as a nut – but he’s just a strap-hanger in this briefing. Paul is speaking to Agrippa. And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” Agrippa’s question is a bit cryptic (and hard to translate) but he’s basically saying, “Do you really think I’m going to convert based on one short speech?”
Modern Christians often use the “one short speech” method of evangelism. We focus too much on harvesting people who are ripe for conversion while ignoring the task of getting them to that point. Before you can harvest, someone has to till the soil. Someone has to plant seeds. Someone has to water them.
Our narrow focus causes us to misunderstand the gift of evangelism. If you’re not a great harvester, then you must not have that gift, right? Actually, you might be incredibly gifted at tilling, planting or watering – moving people closer to conversion.
There all part of evangelism. There’s no separate “gift of watering.”
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