God Raises the Dead: The Un-Incredible Hope that Christ and Christianity Confirm for the World

Brian Mahon - 3/31/2024


Call to worship: Psalm 116:1-9

Text: Acts 26:2-29


Paul is on trial for his hope in the resurrection. Given a pulpit, he addresses the king on the matter. Pleading for patience, Paul recounts his roots. Laying the foundation for the dramatic reversal in his life, he speaks to his upbringing and notoriety within Pharisaical Judaism, and how that led him, against hope, to oppose Jesus by persecuting the Church. In the midst of his rage, however, his hope found realization where he'd have never imagined it: the risen Jesus. Meeting him, Jesus apparently converted, then commissioned Paul to preach the message he once tried and failed to destroy. And because he obeyed Jesus, he was on trial. It is not incredible that God raises the dead. He's God. Jesus lived. The Church endured. Paul was new. This was the Word of God. And it wasn't like it all happened in a corner! Christ and Christianity confirm for the world that God will raise the dead---and that it's essential that one become a Christian by faith in Christ.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Paul's Christian hope. (26:2-8)
  2. Paul's defense of the Christian hope. (26:9-26)
  3. Paul's Christian hope for the 'almost Christian.' (26:27-29)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Acts 26:2-29.
  2. Why does Paul count himself fortunate to be making his defense before Agrippa? What does he beg of him (26:3)? What was Paul known for among his own? How does his hope differ from the hope he shared with Jesus-rejecting Judaism? Does religion guarantee faith in resurrection, even when it's plainly revealed in the Book of said religion? Why wouldn't it? What dynamics might be at play in thinking the resurrection incredible?
  3. When Paul addresses resurrection, what exactly is he addressing? Is the Christian hope just that God raises the dead? Or that Christ is raised? Or that, thereby, Christ will raise the dead with special application to His people?
  4. How does Paul go about defending the entire credibility of the risen Christ and Christianity? How does the saints' endurance lend credibility (26:9-11, 14, 22)? What about Paul's conversion (26:12-19)? What about the Gospel's origin and distinctive message (26:15-20)? What of the Scripture's testimony (26:22-23)? What, still further, of the Christian's sanity (26:24-26)?
  5. What is Paul's hope for Agrippa? Do you share his heart and hope? Are we sharing the Gospel? What 'almost Christian' do you have in your life that you could lead in the direction of the risen Jesus? In light of the fact that Christ is risen as judge of the living and the dead, why is this preeminently pressing?
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