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Facing Prosecutors (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 19, 2024 6:00 am

Facing Prosecutors (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 19, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Pastor Rick Gaston

But when you find yourself being judged by someone who's incompetent and corrupt, what do you do? Well, you stand your ground in your faith, and you look for that opportunity to preach the gospel, regardless of what happens. Sometimes they kill us for this, calling him a ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes.

Judaism wanted nothing to do, wanted no association with Christianity. I think a lot of Christians don't understand that we're not Old Testament Jews. We are New Testament believers. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts chapter 24 as he begins his message, Facing Prosecutors. You have your Bibles Acts chapter 24, Facing Prosecutors. Hopefully we're learning from the scripture a lot of things about ourselves as well as the Lord and what to do with that information, to love what Jesus loves, how to train your children to love what Jesus loves. I know we who love the Lord, we try. We try to teach them and we try to learn ourselves to learn to stand for Jesus more than my own feelings.

Not easy to do. Our own feelings are usually carnal if not held in check by the spiritual man. It's good to know these things.

It enhances our performance. We're going to see this. Apostle Paul stands before his prosecutors. He doesn't give an inch. He cares very much. He's not going to cave. He's not going to appease them. He's not going to meet them halfway. He's going to stand by his faith.

He's going to do it, it seems to me, without an attitude. Although there is that defiant attitude against all that is against Christ, but he meets them, some of them, where they are. The other ones, they're so alienated from God, there's nothing more he can do for them. And so, if you have your Bibles, Acts chapter 24, we will read verses 13 through 16, beginning in verse 13. They accept that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. So he lays it out.

They're charging him with all sorts of false things. And he's going to preach the gospel, whether he's on his deathbed, wherever this man is. His purpose in life, and he knows it, is to preach Christ at any opportunity he gets. And we're watching him do this, and he's not the only one. All the apostles were doing this. When Peter gets to the house of the Gentile Cornelius, he preaches the gospel. He has that opportunity.

He lets it fly, and there was great conversions there. This chapter 24 covers about a two-year period, though we'll be focused on one session, one day. And we learn to stand our ground against prosecutors, those who are trying to charge us with some sort of crime or some sort of wrong. We learn to preach to those who are listening, regardless of what they're going to do with what we say, so long as what we say matches the Lord, both in its context and its delivery. Within 10 years of these events in this chapter, God will be done with Judaic Jerusalem. Corrupted Judaism did not see it coming. The temple will be flattened by this time, Rome's brand of Gentiles. They will demolish the temple. They will destroy the city. They will fulfill the Lord's prophecy that we read about in Matthew 24, for example, concerning the fate of the temple.

But that's a few years off from now. No one knows it, but the Lord knows it. Verse 1, now after five days, Ananias, the high priest, came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullius. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

Yeah, imaginary. Hearsay evidence is what it really was. We can imagine Ananias, this high priest, who last session in court with Paul had him struck in the face. They hit Paul. You can imagine his distaste that he had to make a 70-mile or so journey, and he's an older man, to come to stand before a Gentile governor. And yet his hatred for Paul motivated him, made it easier.

Hatred has that energy, and love is supposed to overcome hatred. Verse 2, and when he was called upon, Tertullius began his accusation, saying, seeing that through you we enjoy great peace and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight. Verse 3, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Verse 4, nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear by your courtesy a few words from us.

This is empty flattery. The Jews despised Felix. He had a heavy hand in keeping them in line. A few years later, they will go to Rome to appeal to Caesar to get him fired, and they will succeed. And this Tertullius, he's a smooth operator. He knows how to work the court.

He thinks he's getting away with it right here. Roman historian Taxitus said about this man Felix, who was once a slave. This man Felix was once a slave. But his brother got in good with the Caesar, Nero, and that was his hook. That's the one who got him this job and kept him from being executed when he got fired from this job.

But Taxitus writes, through all cruelty and licentiousness he exercised the authority of a king with the spirit of a slave. Well, that's telling us who Paul's going to be standing in front of. This is not a noble judge with a high, you know, standard of morality or justice.

He's a criminal, and he has a lot of authority. And Paul knows this going into it, and Paul has made up his mind, well, he's going to do what he's going to do, and I'm going to do what I'm going to do. And that's hopefully what we learn in this, the midst of this court trial that Paul is facing. Verse 5, Tertullius continues, for we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Verse 6, he even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him and wanted to judge him according to our law. The pronouns suggest that he, Tertullius, who's prosecuting Paul, that he is himself a Jew.

They've hired him because he's familiar with the Gentile courts. And many a devilish soul or devil-controlled soul has hurled lies, which are half-truths, which are lies, against God's people through the ages. In Revelation 12, verse 10, we read, Then I heard a loud voice sing in heaven, Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before God, day and night, has been cast down. Well, from that scripture verse about future events, we get something about very present events.

Right now, current events. Satan is an accuser. He is a prosecutor. He's constantly charging us with wrong. And while he's right many times, the blood of Christ cancels out his accusations.

What we get from Revelation 12 is that he accuses the brethren, the righteous, those who have come to Christ day and night. He doesn't let up. If you don't learn how to handle that, you're going to get beat up by Satan. We learn to confess our sins and trust the mercy and the grace of Christ and move forward in his strength. Otherwise, you'll never serve. You won't do anything. You'll just be on the sideline moping all the time.

Your feelings will dominate your life. That's not a good place to be. It is only the saints on earth that Satan accuses, because those who are in heaven are beyond his accusations. And it's an interesting lesson from all this that is very important, I think you'll agree, bypassed by many Christians. You know, someone tell you something bad about another Christian or maybe a pastor or a church in his hearsay and is so often believed, gobbled up. And the Bible warns against this.

We hate to be victims of it, then why do we contribute to it? Proverbs 18, 17, the first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him. And so there the Scripture warns us, don't just believe in accusation. Later, Paul has to write to the pastors, he says, don't receive an accusation against an elder on the strength of one witness.

You shouldn't do that with anybody. Paul is being charged, but there are no witnesses here. Not one witness will step forward in violation of the Jewish law. They called him a plague, a ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes. Back to Proverbs 30 now. For three things the earth is perturbed.

Yes, for four it cannot bear up. For a servant when he reigns. Well, that's Felix and this is someone who is in power but doesn't belong there. And Paul has been suffering this from the high priest Ananias and from others in his trek throughout the ancient world preaching the gospel. And what do you do with that when you fall victim to it? What happens when you find yourself before a servant who reigns?

And of course in the negative context because there are exceptions. But when you find yourself being judged by someone who is incompetent and corrupt, what do you do? Well, you stand your ground in your faith and you look for that opportunity to preach the gospel regardless of what happens.

Sometimes they kill us for this. Calling him a ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes. Judaism wanted nothing to do, wanted no association with Christianity. I think a lot of Christians don't understand that we're not Old Testament Jews. We are New Testament believers and this would be the truth for the ethnic Jews also. When they come to Christ there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, barbarian, Scythian. We're all one in Christ and that's our identity.

This is who we are. The only charge that they could substantiate against Paul was that he was a ringleader amongst those who followed Jesus of Nazareth. But they won't call them, well Christians wasn't as widespread that title, but they would not refer to them of the way. They certainly wouldn't refer to them as Christians because that's the Gentile for Messiah and they did not see Christ as the Messiah. And so they chose to refer to those who followed Jesus as Nazarenes and it was meant to insult them.

Nazareth was held in contempt as Nathanael asked Philip. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? And his simple response was, come see.

Come see for yourself. And he met the Christ. So this Paul being charged with being a ringleader of a sect that has spread a plague throughout the world.

Of course Felix is listening to this. He doesn't like the Jews. The Jews don't like him, but he has this position of authority.

He is not an honest man. The riots that were caused were not caused by Paul, but by those who are charging him with wrong. The Christians led no revolt.

True Christians caused no riots, but in this time in history it was of course the zealots of Judaism. Verse 7, but the commander, Lasias, came by with great violence, took him out of our hands. Verse 8, commanding his accusers to come to you by examining him yourself.

You may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him. Verse 9, and the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so. Well he conveniently leaves out the part about Lasias having to rescue Paul from a vigilante mob against their own Jewish law, against their own Bible, and he leaves that out of course. But here it is again, Proverbs 18, 17, the one to plead his case seems right until the other one comes along and defends himself, which Paul will get a chance in a moment. So they vocalize their agreement, insisting that everything, that Paul is the boogeyman. Now verse 10, then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered, inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do more cheerfully answer for myself.

Well Felix had been governor for about six years in that region by now. Verse 11, because you may ascertain that it is no more than 12 days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship, verse 12, and they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd either in the synagogue or the city. So he gives the courtesy without flattery as in contrast to Tullius who flattered, you know, Felix, oh excellent Felix, we've been blessed by you and as adults it's empty. But Paul was not guilty of any religious, political, or cultural crimes, social crimes there in Jerusalem from Rome's perspective. Verse 13, Paul continues, nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. So he's been charged with all these bad things, he says they don't have anything. There's nothing to defend.

There's not a shred of evidence against me. This did not stop Felix attempts to exploit Paul. Later at the end we'll read that he wanted a bribe from Paul. Corrupted judges ignore innocence and corrupted religious folks ignore the scriptures. They love their religion without what God says. Or they'll just take portions of what God says as Satan did when he quoted the audacity to quote scripture to the Son of God.

As indeed God said, you know, the same with Eve did the same thing. The audacity to quote scripture. What is scripture? Scripture is what God says and what he has preserved for us to learn from.

We call it the Bible. Where are the four men whom Paul had paid vows for? Surely they could come and say, hey, Paul did the right thing. He followed our law.

He did nothing wrong. But we never read about them coming to tell the truth as witnesses on Paul's behalf. There's a lesson for all of us Christians. I don't need support.

I would like it. I don't say it with a defiant spirit towards others but it's good when you have support. But if you don't have it, that doesn't stop the witness. I'm still going to preach Christ. I'm still going to say what I've been shown by the Holy Spirit. Verse 14 now, with this I confess to you that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. So Paul says, I believe every word of my Bible. Is this wasted on any of us? Is this, you know, when are we going to sing again? What kind of program do you have for my teens?

What can you do for me and my particular needs? The Bible's not enough. Let me tell you, the Bible is enough. But you've got to believe it. You've got to let it do what it does. You've got to take the hurt some time in life. Surprise!

Nobody goes through this life unscathed. Not a single one. What do you do with it? Well, I just let my feelings get clobbered then I clobber everybody else. Or I spread my, you know, depression. I walk around dragging my knuckles as a Christian all the time. I hope that's not the case. The Bible challenges each and every one of us.

It's constantly saying, I need you to get to the next level. But it never condemns us in the process. Oh, I mean, it condemns any sins that we commit. Sure. You know, when I went to boot camp, I enjoyed the abuses of the instructors. I trusted them. I mean, I had a plan too in case things got out of hand. But I trusted them.

I knew they were doing what they had a job to do and they were very good at it. So now with Christ, how much more is He worthy of trust? How much more do I have to remember He causes all things to work together for the good if I hang in there? Well, I don't like that phrase. Hanging in there just implies that you can just let go at any minute and you're no longer hanging, you're falling. Maybe that comes from my construction background. You don't want to hang off the side of a building. Anyway, these lessons, may they not be wasted on us. Take the lessons you can get. That's enough for you. Because that's a lot. Satan doesn't want you to get any of them.

He wants to corrupt all of them. Take what you can get, what you can carry. God will supply. God will be there. Here in verse 14, he says, But this I confess to you, that according to the way, that is the Christianity, this of course is the language of Christ, I am the way. That was circulated in the ancient church by this time.

His claim was that religion, Paul's claim, was that the religion of his fathers, the ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, just the kings, the righteous kings like David, he is saying that their religion, he carried it to its ultimate conclusion. In other words, he connected the dots between what the prophets said and what Jesus did. He didn't miss it.

It wasn't wasted. Or initially he did. But now he's got it. Connecting the prophecies of Messiah to the life and the deeds of Jesus, which then says, challenges me and says, are you connecting lessons from the scripture to your own life? We have another way of saying that. Are you practicing what you preach? Well, someone's going to challenge that. And his name is Satan, Lucifer, the devil and his minions. They're not going to sit by and say, look at that, you enjoyed that Bible study, didn't you? Well, let's just leave him alone.

Goes the other way. Christ says, you're ready for him. I made you ready for him. You're fit for this.

Regardless of how you feel, you're fit for it. He says, so I worship the God of my fathers. He claimed that Christianity was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy. He is saying to them, I am totally in line with the Bible.

I am totally in line with the Old Testament by worshiping Jesus Christ. Now, of course, those who had brought charges against him, they didn't want to hear any of this. Felix is listening. But there are others in that court that are also listening and history makes no mention of them directly. But indirectly it does. How does it do it indirectly? Well, where did these court records come from?

Somebody had to leak them out. Somebody who sympathized with the message. Somebody who agreed with Paul. He says, according to the law, he's in harmony with that which is written by the prophets.

Harold Linsdale in his book, Battle for the Bible, he makes this, and I love his first two chapters alone, just really great. But anyway, he says, of all the doctrines connected with the Christian faith, none is more important than the one that has to do with the basis of our religious knowledge. I mean, where do you get your faith from?

Where do you get this information from? That is the most important part. If Satan packs your parachute, are you ready to jump out of this life with that? Then he says, from where do I get my knowledge on which my faith is based? Jesus said, you are mistaken not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. And more and more we're watching churches hide or overrule or suppress what the Bible has to say because they don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. They don't want to see people leave the church. They want to appeal to people.

Well, we want to appeal to people too, but according to the scriptures. Verse 15, I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This hope is determination to trust God, no matter what the situation may bring. Maybe it's sickness. In Paul's case, it was for his freedom and his life. It was a court issue.

It varies from person to person, from time to time. The hope that is determined to trust God because of what the scriptures teach about God. That's what Peter was saying in 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15, where he said, a reason for the hope that is in you.

You have a reason for it. It's connected to something. It is that unbroken witness from Genesis to what we now have revelation. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-19 09:44:10 / 2024-02-19 09:53:03 / 9

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