The Right Beginning
Pastor Sean Taylor gave the keynote message as Christland Missionary Baptist Church, of Fort Worth, TX, celebrated their 54th anniversary. Right from the start he captured his audience, but before he gave his title or launched into his first point, he was careful to thank all the visiting pastors in attendance, and most of all to stress that this was the place eight years earlier where he met some of the leaders of the church where he now pastors.
Orators since the Roman Cicero have called this the Capatio benevolentia, Latin for “winning the goodwill” of the audience. And the Apostle Paul a little over a hundred years after Cicero knew the importance of trying to win the heart of his audience if you wanted any chance to change their point of view. He was not mesmerized by all the pomp and glitz of King Agrippa and Bernice, but he did begin his personal defense with some kind true words about the King.
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are now permitted to speak for yourself.’ Then Paul, stretching out his hand, began defending himself. ‘About all the things the Jews are bringing charges, King Agrippa, I consider it a blessing that I’m about to make my defense before you, especially since you are so knowledgeable about all the customs and Jewish controversies. Therefore, I entreat you to hear me patiently. The Jews know all about my manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning within my own nation and also here in Jerusalem. For a long time they’ve known, if they are willing to admit it, that I’ve lived according to the strictest party, the Pharisees. And now it’s for the hope of the promise given by God to our fathers that I stand here being judged. Our twelve tribes earnestly worship night and day in hope of attaining this promise. It’s concerning this hope, O King, that I’m being accused by the Jews. Why is it thought unbelievable by any of you that God raises the dead?’” Acts 26:1-8
As a pastor I was often anxious to launch into my message, so I frequently skipped the important step that the Apostle Paul and Pastor Taylor took. If you want to have a shot at altering the opinion of an audience, you’ve got to begin by winning their goodwill.
Now there were rumors all over the Roman Empire that Agrippa and Bernice were living in an incestuous relationship. In fact a few short years later Bernice became the mistress of not only Emperor Vespasian, but also Titus, the Emperor who came after him and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. But Paul didn’t begin with an attack against Agrippa and Bernice’s sexual behavior. It was infinitely more important to get them to confront the fact that Jesus had died to provide forgiveness for all of our sin, and that He had conquered the greatest enemy, death.
Also note that Paul defends his beliefs and declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises God made to Jewish fathers like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul was one Jew who would not refrain from sharing with his own people about Jesus.
LORD, thanks for Paul’s reminder that it makes perfect sense to believe that the One who gave us our physical life can also give us resurrection life. And help me learn from Paul that even those living in immorality, whether Jew or Gentile, need to hear that Jesus died for all of our sins. The focus must be on the resurrected life that Jesus still desires to give as his gift.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!