GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD

Hearing the truth but not listening

Acts 25

Jerry A Collins

SCC

11/2/03

 

  1. Should we expect to be unfairly accused?
  2. How should we respond to unfair accusations?
  3. How can we expect God to use this in our lives?

 

A significant characteristic of sin is that it enslaves a person. In John 8:34 Jesus comments everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. Sin is personified as a cruel master. This same picture is used in Romans 6:15-23. 2 Peter 2:19 says, By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. It is the idea of the mastery of oneís will by any person, idea or substance. We are not as depraved as we can be. In other words, we are not as sinful in our actions as we can be, but every dimension of our humanity is infiltrated by sin. Every part of our lives is enslaved by, under the dominance of sin. This is why we cannot believe what we are capable of sometimes. Sin has us by the throat. We choke on it and stumble over it. It reaches out to trip us up as we even attempt to run away from it. It blinds us. It binds us. It also deceives us. The Apostle Paulís accusers are bound by their mutual hate for him and his message. Their enslavement to their hatred is evident by their constant conniving to falsely accuse him, use people to get to him, and plans to kill him. We will learn that people enslaved to sin will be motivated by that sin to destroy us. We will also learn what kind of response we must have to this unjust treatment as well as how the Lord uses these situations to accomplish what He has purposed to do.

1. THE ASSASSINATION IS PLOTTED 1-5

1-3: Festus in office for only 3 days is urgently entreated to judge Paulís case in Jerusalem. Itís obvious that this new governor is anxious to make a good impression on his subjects and is highly vulnerable to this heavy Jewish pressure. All the while they are scheming Paulís death.

4-5: But no device formed against Godís purposes can prosper. Surprisingly, Festus declines to have Paul brot to Jerusalem on grounds he will shortly return to Caesarea and can hear the case there. Actually, he stayed nearly 10 more days and could have easily agreed to this request. But he never did. Whatever the reason, his decision defeats the Jewish scheme. It is evident that God bends the inclinations of men to His own ends (Proverbs 21:1). God had already done that with Pharoah (Ex 10:1-2); Tiglath-Pilesar (Isa 10:5-7); Artaxeres (Exra 7:21) and also Festus. Now Paulís enemies are compelled to come to the place God has set instead of territory they are familiar with. God has moved decisively away from Jerusalem now and those who oppose Him are reduced to following Him along the road He is traveling. We have the assurance that even though we cannot discover the designs of our enemies, God knows them and we can confidently move forward.

2. THE ACCUSATIONS ARE PRESENTED 6-12

6-7: First, he demonstrates his independence by refusing their initial request and in no hurry to go back to Caeserea. Second, once he has returned he wastes no time in giving them the hearing they sought. So, he can now give them their Ďfavorí without being suspected of being too soft on the new job. Now Paulís opponents lodge Ďmany and grevious complaintsí against him. So, if one approach had not worked, they will try another. The accuracy of their accusations are the least of their concerns. Success for their case is everything. Beyond their reach for two years, their recent plot failing, their desperation seen in raising the level of angry accusations. They had reason to be desperate since their defeat had already been predicted by Gamaliel who had warned in Acts 5:39 against fighting against God.

8-11: By contrast Paulís self-defense is orderly and clear. Taking each accusation he specifically denies all of them. He is seen in full possession of his senses while his opponents rave on with their unsubstantiated allegations. The servant of Christ does not participate in the wild desperation of His enemies. We learn by example that God has not given him or us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of good judgment 2 Timothy 1:7. However, weak their arguments, Felix is swayed unjustly desiring to ingratiate himself to the Jews at Paulís expense. The pull of what is just over what is politically expedient emerges as clearly as it had with Felix before him. However, Jerusalem cannot be allowed to win this struggle. Paulís testimony there is finished (23:11). The call of God to Rome has been explicit and he will now act on that call and apply it to his present circumstances. This is precisely how Believers may use Godís Word. Paul had no details of how we was to get to Rome only the fact that he would go. So the Scriptures give us Godís general directions which we subsequently apply in the appropriate circumstances. This appeal to Caeser a logical present step against the background of the divine revelation Paul had received. The Bible does not give us every decision we must make but it gives us an adequate basis for every decision (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He had once been prepared to die in Jerusalem (21:13) but his purpose in going there has been fulfilled and he is not inclined to risk a pointless death. It is one thing to die in the path of duty to God quite another to invite it outside that path. Meekly submitting to a protracted and unjust imprisonment without asserting his Roman rights, yielding now to Festusí plans would have been to take a step backward in the plan of God. We must be willing to endure any insult if it will give glory to the Lord but we must also know when doing so will not bring Him glory. Any appeal we make should clearly serve the purposes of God and not our own. So Jerusalem and all of the deception and blindness and slavery to sin it represents is decisively defeated in favor of Rome and here the rulers of Jerusalem disappear permanently from the story. God will accomplish His purposes no matter the opposition to it.

3. THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE HEARING13-27

This segment sets the stage for Paulís speech in Acts 26 by recording the visit of King Agrippa and Bernice to Caeserea.

13-22: Here the interest of Agrippa is aroused. After Festus brings Agrippa up to speed, he describes the charges leveled against Paul 18-19 seemingly disinterested in all of it. In 17:32 we already learned of this doctrine being widely scorned among the intelligent of the day. Aloofness from faith is often the case form those wanting the esteem of the worldly.

23-27: This hearing is being held in hopes of finding something to communicate to the Emporer 26 since it seems irrational to send a prisoner against whom there are no charges specified 27. These words could scarcely be found more condemning to what is going on. It was irrational to do this and to hold a prisoner like that. And so it happens that the case is decided before the prisoner is heard. Injustice all the way around. How many have thrust aside the truth simply not to look foolish before others they deem important!

1. Live for an audience of one only.

2. Expect worldly injustice because of your witness.

3. Confidently trust the Lord to work out His plan as it unfolds.