Two men talked about a preacher they both knew. The first man said, “He’s such a great speaker. I’d rather hear him speak than eat.” The second man agreed – “Me , too. I’ve sat at the table with him and heard him eat.” In Acts 25:22 King Agrippa told the Roman governor Festus, “I would like to hear the man [the apostle Paul] myself.” In the paragraphs that follow (Acts 25:23 – Acts 26:28) Agrippa did hear Paul. So what kind of sermon do you preach to a king? With all the perks, power, and privileges a king enjoys, what could you possibly say that would improve his life, or a queen’s? We can’t be certain as to what that first century king expected or wanted to hear the apostle say, but there is no room for doubt about what Paul was eager to say to him! He preached a sermon aimed at improving the king’s life. He preached about royalty – that is, about Jesus Christ, “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev.19:16)! Acts 26:22-23 reports that Paul insisted that from the time he became an apostle, he had “obtained help from God,” and that “to this day I stand, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come – that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Paul preached from Scripture about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! That’s what he thought a king needed to hear.
So what does a sermon that will improve a king or anyone else’s life look like? Paul proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ (26:8, 23)! He preached the Christ he once persecuted and sought to destroy (26:9-11, 15). He preached about “seeing the light” (26:12-14). He preached about the commission from Christ that authorized his gospel message (26:15-17). In Acts 26:19-20 he preached that people should “open their eyes” and “turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” He went on to preach that people “should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” He reminded Agrippa preaching that message had put him at high risk from some who didn’t like what he preached – “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and sought to kill me” (vs 21). He went on to preach about forgiveness of sins, inheritance, sanctification, and faith in Christ. To a king! If you could preach to a king, what would you say to improve his life? Paul believed what he preached and preached what he believed – that in Jesus Christ we find “every spiritual blessing” and “unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 1:3; 3:8). He knew the king was not a Christian, and he believed that meant the king, royal as life might be, was lost outside of Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 12). Then smack dab in the middle of his sermon to King Agrippa about how Christ died, was buried, and arose from the dead, Governor Festus interrupted Paul and accused him of being crazy: “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad” (Acts 26:23-24)! Undeterred, Paul pressed on and insisted the gospel is true and reasonable and that “this thing was not done in a corner” (26:25-26). His goal was to improve the king’s royal life. He sought to convince Agrippa of his need for God’s Son and the forgiveness and hope found in Him. And so eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart he appealed to Agrippa to believe the prophets and become a Christian (26:27). The sermon was purposely aimed at improving the king’s life. Paul preached his heart out, and Agrippa was “almost” persuaded (26:28)! What could possibly improve a king’s life? Paul believed the answer was by being a king who is a Christian! Paul the prisoner is “in chains” (26:29), but he is in Christ. Agrippa is on a throne – but not in Christ. Paul used all his persuasive powers to convince Agrippa his life would improve by becoming a child of God and thus a “joint heir with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17)! Acts 26:18 summarizes all that becoming a Christian accomplishes for a king or anyone willing to trust and obey Christ. What would preachers bent on improving people’s lives sound like today? God give us preachers who will preach like Paul, and people who understand life improves not being “almost” persuaded to become a Christian but altogether.