Friday, July 27, 2018

With Transparency.. Opt to Maintain an Untwisted Life, Soundness of faith, and a Testimony Before those of Every Strata or Profile. Be ready to give an answer.

Your story in Christ can be like a key that can unlock someone else’s prison doors. It’s God that does the work of salvation. Yes, It’s really true -- He can turn any mess into a message, any test into a testimony, any misery into a ministry! First, you must turn and trust in Jesus!
Read Acts 24-25. Today's context is of three riots, of two rescues and a secret plot to kill Paul. It’s one dealing with Jesus, with faith, with temperance (so good to have), the nature of righteousness (hey Buckaroo, you can enjoy that now), of the Resurrection and coming Judgement. The Pharisees and Sadducees were divided over this R-word. Paul knew what mentioning Gentiles and this word would do. 
The Bible says, “After several days, Felix returned with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul expounded on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, ‘You may go for now. When I find the time, I will call for you.’” Acts 24:25
Paul was a Pharisee and the son of one too -- both these men “got it” regarding the Ress, but many didn’t believe in the Resurrection of the dead. Listen, the resurrection is an Essential. Many Christians today sadly do not believe in a bodily resurrection. While they trust in an afterlife of eternal bliss away with God in heaven, many of them assume this will be a time of disembodied bliss, in which the soul is finally free of its so called “suit.” If we don’t rightly get it, this physical resurrection of Christ, or even the resurrection of the believers body.. we’ll get nothing else right concerning our eternal future. 
Abigail Rine Favale says“The tenet of the bodily resurrection is not a peripheral doctrinal issue. It is part of the entire economy of salvation.” 
It’s therefore critical that we not merely affirm the resurrection of the dead as a point of doctrine, but that we understand the meaning of the resurrection that we affirm. 
“Ironically, there are believers who would die rather than deny the resurrection, yet they actually don’t understand or believe what the doctrine of the resurrection means! Despite the centrality of the resurrection in Scripture and church history, many of them have never been clearly taught about its meaning, so they imagine they’ll live forever in a disembodied state.” ~ Randy Alcorn

But today we look at Paul giving an answer or defense -- he was just too hot to handle, religious folk. What a testimony! 
It came forth. It happened, Paul finally got to tell his story to some world leaders of his day as he was previously told would happen (See the whole Bible context). 
The Bible says, “And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." Acts 24:24 
“This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is found in his Son.” John 5:11  
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father— the Spirit of Truth, who comes from the Father—he will testify on my behalf. You will testify also, because you have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27
“Therefore, never be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, his prisoner. Instead, by God’s power, join me in suffering for the sake of the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8 
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32
“I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done.” Psalm 22:22 
“This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. We declare to you this eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we have seen and heard we declare to you so that you, too, can have fellowship with us.” 1 John 1:2-3
“The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.” 1 John 5:10
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:1
Be careful not to embellish lie and exaggerate about things. We must be careful as well that we don’t brag and glorify ourselves, which is what some people purposely and unknowingly do. Instead talk about Jesus.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
“And he said, The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Acts 22:14-16
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27
“But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer.” Luke 21:12-14
“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Psalm 107:2
“And you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” Matthew 10:18-19
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
A Twisted Accusation (Acts 24:1-9)
Remember when the Apostle Paul got a hearing before Felix the governor? It was pretty interesting to Felix (a former a slave who still at times acted like a harsh one). He was the husband of Drusilla (v. 24 the sister of Herod Agrippa II) -- this was now his third wife (the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She wasn’t yet twenty years old. 
What did the accusers typically do back in Paul’s day? Well, they presented formal oratorical arguments and would sometimes try to butter up.. totally flatter the powerful judge before attacking the accused. That’s what happened against innocent Paul. Tertullus was one such an orator-lawyer whose flattering words about Felix sound hollow and false...cuz they were. The "five days" in v. 1 refer to the period since Paul's arrest. The summary of Paul's activities would look like this: Day 1—arrived in Jerusalem, 21:17; Day 2—visited James, 21:18; Day 3—visited the temple, 21:26; Days 4, 5, and 6—in the temple with the vow upon him; Day 7—arrested in the temple, 21:27; Day 8—before the Council, 22:30-23:10; Day 9-the Jews' plot and Paul's trip to Caesarea, 23:12-31; Day 10-presented to Felix, 23:32-35; Days 11 and 12—waiting at Caesarea; Day 13—the hearing before Felix. You will note that there are five days (8 through 12) between Paul's arrest and the trial.
There were three accusations by the Jews against Paul: (1) a personal accusation: "we have found this man a pestilent fellow"; (2) a political accusation: "a mover of sedition"; and (3) a religious accusation: "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." Compare the trial of Christ and the accusations they made against Him (Luke 23:22). Of course, they had no proof for any of these matters! They considered Paul "a plague" (v. 5) while generations of Christians have looked to him as God's great apostle to the Gentiles. Unbelievers today do not realize that their "pesky Christian friends" are really their best friends. The rich man in Luke 16:19-31 begged from hell that Abraham should send Lazarus to visit his brothers and witness to them!
The political argument was also false. Paul never sought to change men's politics, but he did preach the lordship of Christ. This conflicted with Caesar's demand that people worship him as a god. "We have no king but Caesar!" is what the Jews cried to Pilate (John 19:8-15). These men considered the Christian faith a sect, a group of people alien to the true Jewish faith. Thousands of Jews had believed in Christ but still participated in temple worship, so they were looked upon as a sect within Israel and not as a new religion. The term "Nazarene" was one of contempt; "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" asked Nathanael (John 1:46).
Tertullus even lied about the courageous soldier Lysias! Note how he "softened" the story of the temple riot (v. 6) but exaggerated what Lysias did (v. 7)! Men who oppose the truth will stop at nothing to distort the truth or promote a lie. God had used Lysias to rescue Paul, and the Jews hated him for this. Men pretend to obey the law, but these children of the devil (John 8:44) were murderers and liars!
A Non-Twisted Reponse (24:10-21)
Was Paul anti-Jewish? How could he be, when he was now bringing a gift of love to his nation to help them in their time of trial! The "many years" of v. 17 would have been three or four years. Paul visited Jerusalem on five different occasions: these events are found in Acts 9:26 (a.d. 39); Acts 11:27-30 (a.d. 45); Acts 15 (a.d. 50); Acts 18:22 (a.d. 53); and Acts 21:17 (a.d. 58). It had been five years since his last visit to Jerusalem. The accusers could not prove with witnesses that he had caused any trouble; in fact, they were the ones who started the riot in the temple (21:27).
Christians have the right to use the law (established by God) to protect themselves and the Gospel. Note that Paul did not depend on flattery; see 1 Thes. 2:1-6. He waited until the governor had given him permission to speak, then he quietly and honestly gave his story.
Felix had been governor about six or seven years, which was enough to be considered "many years" (v. 10) according to the records of those days! Paul answered their accusations with facts. Just twelve days before (recall the timetable given earlier) he had come to Jerusalem to worship. There was no way that he could have organized a revolt in such a short time! The accusers had no witnesses to prove that he had caused trouble or even raised his voice in the temple! Then the apostle began to use the court for a pulpit, giving witness of his faith in Christ. "I will confess to heresy, as they call it!" But he went on to state that this "heresy" was actually the fulfillment of the Jewish faith. Paul believed the Law and the Prophets, that is, the entire OT Scripture. He believed (as did the Pharisees) that there would be a resurrection of the dead. He tried daily to have a conscience void of offense to man or God.
A Twisted Attitude (24:22-27)
Felix had an understanding of "that Way" (the Christian faith) but refused to make any decision. He postponed the decision with the excuse that the Roman captain would have to appear first. The governor was kind to Paul by allowing him liberty and access to his friends.
Felix held another trial, this time with his teenage wife Drusilla present. As young as she was, she had already lived in sin, not unlike the Herod family from which she came. She probably enjoyed all the pomp and parade of being a governor's wife—until Paul began to preach the Word! Paul stood before them and spoke, not for himself, but for their own salvation! He had a threefold argument telling them why they should accept Christ: (1) righteousness—they had to do something about past sin; (2) temperance (self-control)—they had to overcome today's temptations; (3) judgment to come—they had to be prepared for tomorrow's judgment.
The message was so powerful that Felix trembled! But the governor had a foolish attitude, even though God had spoken to his heart: he put off deciding for Christ and used Paul as a "political pawn" with the hopes of getting money from him. Paul had admitted that he carried alms for the Jews (v. 17), and perhaps Felix thought the Apostle would bribe his way to freedom. Seeking to please the Jews, Felix left Paul in jail two more years, before he was succeeded by Porcius Festus.
We cannot help but admire Paul as he faced false charges from wicked men. What an example he is for us today. Paul faced facts honestly and demanded that the truth be presented. His concern was for the souls of men, not for the safety of his own life. God had promised that Paul would witness before Gentiles and kings (9:15), and this experience was a fulfillment of that promise.
Many sinners today are like Tertullus, who flatter and refuse to face the truth. Others are like Felix, who hear the truth and understand it, and are even convicted, but who refuse to obey. Still others are like Drusilla; she heard the Word and saw her husband deeply moved, yet the record says nothing about her own decision. Undoubtedly her youthful sins had already hardened her heart. Historians tell us that she died twenty-one years later in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
A Non-Twisted Appeal to Caesar (25:1-12)
The politician in Festus now came to the fore as he asked Paul if he wanted to go to Jerusalem for trial. Like Felix, he wanted to please the Jews and make a good impression as the new governor (24:27). But Paul clung to Christ's promise that he would go to Rome. Years before, Christ had told him not to stay in Jerusalem (22:17-18). God had sovereignly overruled Paul's decisions, and Paul was careful now to stay away from Jerusalem. Again, in this way God protected him and took His servant to Rome for his final years of ministry. Every Roman citizen had the right to appeal to Caesar and have his trial in Rome, and this right Paul now used.
It is now two years since the events of chapter 24. Luke did not record Paul's activities at Caesarea since his purpose is to explain how Paul finally got from Jerusalem to Rome. Festus, the new governor, was a more honorable man who was unwilling to give Paul a false trial (see v. 16). In a state visit to Jerusalem, Festus found "a multitude of Jews" (v. 24) who insisted that he do something with Paul. Even the high priest and the chief rulers lied about Paul, asking Festus to bring the prisoner to Jerusalem for trial. They wanted to attempt again to kill Paul along the way (see 23:12). God guided Festus to refuse the Jews' suggestion, and in this way He protected His servant. Man proposes, but God disposes. We must admire this pagan governor for his honesty and fairness.
After a ten day visit to the Jews, Festus returned to Caesarea and held another trial for Paul. Again, the Jews came with their complaints which they could not prove. How patiently Paul waited for God to fulfill His promise to take him to Rome! Like Joseph in the Egyptian prison, Paul was tested and tried as he waited for the Word to be fulfilled (Ps. 105:17-20).
“Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone's life for eternity.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“The cross is the centre of the world's history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifiction of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. The testimony of Christ was the spirit of prophecy, and the growing power of Jesus is the spirit of history.” ~ Alexander MacLaren
“God-sent ministry, heeded and bowed to, leads to enlargement and blessing; but the Spirit's testimony rejected increases the guilt of him who hardens himself against it, and makes his condition far worse than before. It is ever the case that light refused makes the darkness all the deeper. Hence the need of a tender conscience, quick to respond to every word from God.” ~ Henry Allen Ironside
“The value given to the testimony of any feeling must depend on our whole philosophy, not our whole philosophy on a feeling.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“How you live your life is a testimony of what you believe about God.” ~ Henry Blackaby
“People say all the time 'I don't have a good testimony' because they think their story has to involve some dramatic story of change from 'bad' to 'good'. But Jesus didn't come to save people this way. Sin doesn't make us bad it makes us dead. Jesus came to save by bringing the dead to life. And that's an amazing testimony.” ~ Louie Giglio
“The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.” ~ Martin Luther
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