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October 28, 2021 4:00 am
The apostle Paul while he was under house arrest. Given the opportunity to plead for his freedom before the governor and his wife, but instead of making a case for his release. Paul boldly proclaimed a greater cause. Are we prepared to follow his example today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg describes how the church can and should confront the world. Chapter 2424 versus 22 to 27. The final verses of the chapter. Let me read them a brief prayer and then will go at then Felix, who was well acquainted with the way adjourned the proceedings when listening as the commander comes. He said I will decide your case. He ordered the centurion to keep all under guard, but to give him some freedom and permits his friends to take care of his needs. Several days later Felix came with his wife Priscilla, who was a Jew. S he sent for Paul and listen to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid instead that's enough for now. You may leave when I find it convenient. I will send for you at the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bright so we send for infrequently and talked with him when two years have passed, Felix was succeeded by Portia's Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews. He left Paul in prison. Amen. In this familiar brief section at the end of acts 24 Luke records for as an incident which is not unfamiliar in the New Testament, insofar as it describes the fact that it is very possible for a man or for a woman to be moved as a result of the proclamation of God's word and yet to remain unchanged and if we were going to preach evangelistic away from these verses. I think that that would be the emphasis that I would want to bring the great danger on being stirred by the unchanged but I wonder if you would agree that what we also have in these concluding verses of acts 24 is not simply an illustration of evangelism that never quite took in the lives of these individuals but we also have an example of the church confronting the world.
We have a picture in Paul's ministry of God intervening at a moment in time in the lives of individuals who wear outside of his kingdom and outside of his purposes, and exemplifies then of how the church can, and I want to suggest this morning and somewhat forcibly how the church should be prepared to confront the world. Now the context is clear. The situation is such that Paul is now being held under a form of house arrest.
That's what verse 23 says the reason is there is because he is on the trumped up charge of being a troublemaker and a ringleader of the Nazarene sanctuary that in verse five, the governor, Felix, whose name means happy Mr. happy we might call him isn't particularly happy at all and like to spend this time in some really filthy procedures and is not immune to trying to reduce bribery and corruption at every point and is becomes a pattern for meeting these nurses. He was just as happy to see if he could squeeze some cash out of the apostle Paul as out of anyone else. Nevertheless, he determines that the proceedings which had gone so far should be adjourned because he says they want to wait for Lucius who apparently is a key witness and while they wait for the arrival of this individual. During this intervening. This encounter which Luke records for us here takes place, namely that Paul is in this kind of house arrest situation and on this particular occasion, and on subsequent occasions were told Felix and Priscilla decided to send for Paul and listen to him now were not told what motivated them, and we want to avoid idle speculation. Presumably, husbands and wives at that point are not dissimilar to husbands and wives today. They sit down and dad Osman will say what you want to do this evening. Priscilla and she says I don't know why do I always have to choose, and then he goes into one of those major discussions where the guy wishes he never even asked the question in the first place. But on that occasion. Presumably they said well there's nothing much else going on.
Why don't we bring when we bring Paula after all. I believe that he's got some things to say. Certainly is a dramatic impact in everything that he does. And everywhere he goes. We got them down here in the basement are over in the house. Why don't we just bring them in and let's let him do his thing and will see what he has given us. We don't know what motivated them, but it is sufficient for us to realize that, here are two individuals who in all likelihood would never ever attended one of Paul's public meetings is highly unlikely that we would've looked out upon the crowd noted that this aristocratic couple.
Apparently were in the group and get in the providence of God.
Here they are confronted with the message, picture the scene. The mighty apostle appears in the posture of apparent weakness. With that, he would have had no real concern.
After all he was the one who said in writing to the Corinthians that we have this treasure in Hertha and jars that we are old dayparts from the outside. He must've fit the bill just about perfectly and then he comments. After all, he's the one under duress. He's the one in captivity and in a pattern power and strength sit his hosts. They are the ones who have apparently his life in their hand. Felix has told him previously that he will decide the case when Lucius arrives he doesn't fully realize what he's dealing with. He thinks he's in charge. The world usually dies. The church looks weak and impoverished as it often dives but hear a door of opportunity swings open open for the apostle to preach and open for Felix and Priscilla to hear that is as one of the guys and Julius Caesar says his bruises or catches or cashes it really is that is attired in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leaves on in here is one of those great moments in the tight one of the watersheds event in the unfolding of God's purposes, and so he arrives.
What should his strategy be. Ask yourself what would I have done. I was in house arrest. I get called up to meet the governor and his wife. I'm not sure just all this involved but as you're making your way from where you live to where you're about to speak, what would your strategy be what would you do presumably he might've said to himself what I'll try and do especially in the beginning here is just make friends with this couple, and maybe if I can make friends with them and cultivate a relationship I'll be able to win them over and if I win them over, then maybe at some future date. I'll be able to proclaim the gospel to the I would've been a fair strategy. Perhaps he could have said well what I'll do is I will seek to negotiate my release because after all, he might've reasoned, I am far more useful outside of here that any here and so presumably God is opening a door of opportunity for me here to be able to speak in a reasonable fashion. To these folks and I'll be able to get out and get back on with the ministry that would've been possible. It would've been valid to 1° or another.
No meaning be in any doubt about this because while we are not expressly told a clear meaning of the text makes it perfectly obvious that the apostle Paul was single-minded in his approach. Let me suggest to you that we can learn about three things from his approach, we can learn about his motivation.
We can learn about his methodology and we can learn about his message. First of all, his motivation, the way that we determine motivation in one another is actually by seeing what happens. We can be wrong, but in this case I don't think we are. If the apostle Paul had been consumed with self-interest or with fear or if he been keen simply to cultivate friendship at a high level in the society of his day. Then there is no way in the world that he would've launched into the discourse which we now find for is in these concluding verses nobody in their right mind who wanted to make friends with this couple, or secure the release or make sure that life would uncomfortably would ever launch into the sermon were about to see something else drove all in this situation.
Something inside of them moved him in a way that he couldn't let it go to the Corinthians he says was me. If I preach not the gospel and in the second book of Corinthians in chapter 5 he explains what largely is that which drives him deep inside to Corinthians 5 universe as well. You should turn to them just to check are still there to Corinthians 5 verse 11 Paul says since then we know what it is to fear the Lord.
We try to persuade men if we had sat with Paul and said, what makes you tick Paul, he would've been able to respond to one of the driving motivating factors in my life is the fear of the Lord, not simply the beginning of wisdom.
Definitely that, but because I know the fear of the Lord. He says we persuade men. He goes on in verse 14 of that same section to say that he is driven he is compelled by the love of Christ. The reason being he says that since we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
He said we want to proclaim this wonderful news. He also says in verse 16 of two Corinthians 5 that he no longer regards anyone from a worldly point of view and then in verse 20 says we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Okay fine that's what you wrote.
Now let's see if that's what you do.
Let's see if there is a gap between what you're saying and how you're living we turn back over here and we ask ourselves how was he doing according to what he says in two Corinthians 5 knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade men the love of Christ compels us. We don't regard people from a worldly point of view and we are ambassadors will come back to that his motivation was driven by something other than external circumstance. Since it wasn't a reaction to the market commodity of his world.
It was something inside of Paul, which may Paul do what he did, he was not simply reacting to the potentiality of the situation no one of his methodology. While the blood were told hereby look it says that he spoke on he discoursed. Essentially, he did what he been put together to do. That is, he preached you men know that all kinds of words in the New Testament for preach to proclaim to dialogue to discourse, to reason, and everything else, and what we find them doing in this situation is doing what he knew he was supposed to do.
First Corinthians 117.
He says Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. He then goes on through that to point out that the world doesn't know this.
The world is foolish and thinks it's bright. The gospel is the power of God to salvation. And then he says, and in first Corinthians 2 when I came to your brothers.
I didn't come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaim to you the testimony about God or the testimonial of God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling.
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit power so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. Okay Paul, you said that your methodology now let's see if you use your methodology in front of governors and kings and influential people, especially when you find yourself in the most impoverished circumstances, we see Paul knew what we need to remind ourselves of, namely, that no man among us can bear witness to Christ while at the same time, bearing testimony to ourselves. That is why Michelangelo had a cardboard thing around his head with a candle in it and as he painted these amazing paintings.
He had a candle which Sean in front of him to make sure that his shadow did not so loud the mighty work in which he was involved and Paul understood that and he would not allow himself to so intrude on this event because he was a man under compulsion. He was a man involved in persuasion.
He was a man who was convinced from the inside out that he had an authoritative message from God, and he must get it out James Danny. This gorgeous writer was shaky on some things and good on others.
He says no man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save. That's why some of our preaching is so ineffective because we are so keen to let people know how bright we really are and so they are impressed with and they never encounter Christ boxes I use those tricks of the trade I income to you wasn't because he was a dummy. We know that one because he and going to school it was because he refused to use methodologies which would allow people to say it's the method that did, he would proclaim an unpalatable message in an unfashionable way.
Enough fashionable environments because of his motivation and because he'd been called to bear the name of Christ before the Gentiles is what God, the Lord told Ananias in the encounter. The next night. Now you still with me. His motivation is methodology.
What about his message.
The original he shared with them faith in Christ Jesus. Now when we consider the constituent elements of his message. We realize that this wasn't some kind of vapid little sugarcoated sermon at to make Felix's ears tingle. This wasn't a message to make Drusilla feel good about ourselves. Fact it wasn't even close to so let's look at is three point message. Point number one starts into it. Righteousness. Righteousness, presumably he then proclaim the holiness of God and how they are for men and women appeared before him as sinful in his earlier statement in his own defense. In verse 14 he had made clear about the fact that he was in accord with the law and with the prophets. He doubtless then addresses the absolute standard of God's law and is able to show how in his own pre-converted experience. He himself was a lawbreaker. He presumably quoted the Old Testament Scriptures is conjecture on our part to see from whence he may have quoted, but I like to think you use someone that he looked Felix and Drusilla NAI and as he proclaimed righteousness to them. He said you're a member, or I would like to tell you what David said, blessed is the man who walk is not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of markers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night's maybe went to Sam. 11 and proclaimed the Lord is righteous, he loves righteous deeds.
The upright shall behold his face, but we know that he proclaimed righteousness. We know that because it says it in the Bible. Secondly, were in no doubt about his second point. He then dealt with the issue of self-control. The word is an express reference to the control of passion fleshly lust and evil desire, like a city whose walls are broken down. Perhaps he said from Solomon is a man who lacks self-control. He must've told them of the world's view of freedom is really a cage that what is held out as happiness is ultimately the embracing of sorrel and then thirdly, he went on to address the issue of judgment judgment. There's a coming judgment. Now don't let's forget what I said is a thesis in the beginning what I'm suggesting in here in these verses is that we have in this a paradigm not the paradigm the exclusive model but a model as to how the church is to confront the world.
Therefore, if you like a model as to how we are to preach not the model in a model and I might add every necessary model in the current climate, so we spoke of judgment maybe went back to someone. Verse five. The wicked will not stand in the judgment. Felix, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. This was not coming to Jesus Christ. This was not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. This was the tactic. This was to the heart and the will through the mind.
We cannot ask people to come to Christ.
So first we tell them who Christ is and why they need to come to and that's what he was doing. You see, we can have these clever little messages about faith in Jesus Christ and nothing happens because we are not penetrating the armor of a secular world that asking questions that were not even necessary. See.
So when he addresses them very clear. My first point is righteous in my second point is self-control. My third point is a coming judgment. What is sermon. What a jolly sermon. They now if we had a problem. I see there is a ball when you are learning to preach like that. I modeled this to you. I was thinking this myself. I this argument with this line of reasoning do I think he would've said. I said well I had burned into my soul in the desert but the first time I ever remember being encountered by this was on the day I played the role of the cloakroom attendance when I said man drop your jackets here. You want to be able to get a full back swing when you unleash those great it was on that day. Paul would've said that for the first time with clarity. I have a man speak powerfully of righteousness, the unfolding purpose of God in all of history.
I saw a man who in himself displayed manifestly the evidences of a self-control which was frankly beyond human understanding and I had before they beat him to bits saying use stiff necked generation you're just like your forefathers, that's where I learned to preach like that.
He says Stephen while I sit on a ball. You sure you're really one that model they didn't really like it. It may, Paul.
I mean, I didn't go over very heating invited by, you're not going to inside Luke records for us and listen to this. When Stephen finished his message quote defined as an X and X87.
Thanks. Now I stayed in my Bible not just the I love these verses you know this… They covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices.
They all rushed at him, drag him out of the city and began to stone him about you, but having some bad sundaes but I am come closer. This with this fresh in our minds. Here is the question I want to pose. If this is a justifiable paradigm and model since it is apostolic practice and preset question. Is this the approach of the church. The answer to that. If we are honest is this a Byam large what we are doing is so far removed from this model has to be downright shameful. What is the church's approach confronting the world in our day, compelling question that demands an honest answer listing to Truth for Life with Alister big Alastair will continue this teaching tomorrow. A significant part of what we are about pure Truth for Life is strengthening local churches and encouraging pastors screw clear relevant teaching of God's word back teaching the Bible is our mission.
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