“King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe. Then Agrippa said to Paul, Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily? I wish before God, replied Paul, that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:27-29, HCSB).
In the book, The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight contrasted how the gospel was presented and what was the message preached by the apostles with how we present the gospel and what we preach today.
The Apostle Paul’s presentation of the gospel to King Agrippa in these verses provides a good example of this contrast.
First, Paul customized his message to the “Jewishness” of King Agrippa. Paul declared that if Agrippa was a good Jew, he should accept the prophets and their message about Jesus as the Messiah.
Scholars disagree over whether Agrippa’s response was sarcastic or indicated that Paul was close to persuading him.
Nevertheless, Paul consummated his gospel presentation by expressing such confidence in Christ that he wished all who were in the sound of his voice could become like himself (Paul).
There’s an important distinction between the way the Apostle Paul preached the gospel in these verses and the way we preach it today.
Compare the way we invite others to come to Jesus to Paul’s “altar call” to.
We say that we want all who hear the gospel to have what we have!
Paul insisted that he wanted all who heard the gospel to become like he is!
The distinction merits repeating: When Paul presented the gospel, he said, “I want you to become as I am,” while we present the gospel by saying, “I want you to have what I have.”
The distinction in the two approaches is the difference between telling the gospel and living the gospel, which makes it a matter of personal accountability.
When you are giving something away that you got for free, there’s not really any accountability involved.
But with Paul’s gospel you have to be like Jesus in order to tell others to be like you (because you are like Jesus)!
I have two small children who are toddler age and, consequently, trying to discover their self-identity. In this discovery process, the children want to be (like) me, their uncles or aunts, their cousins, their teachers, and just about anybody who is bigger than they are.
That’s the way we should be about Jesus!
Jesus is bigger than ourselves.
And when He gives us a new life, then we should want to be like Him!
And He wants us to be like Him so He gives us His Spirit to help us become like Him.
Besides, you don’t really have the gospel to give to others. But, when you have been transformed by the gospel, then you are the gospel and you can corroborate its significance to others because of its significance to you.
So, the presentation of the gospel needs people who are role-models more than narrators.
Presenting the gospel to others requires that we be the gospel!
“Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27, HCSB)