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Facing Prosecutors (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 20, 2024 6:00 am

Facing Prosecutors (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 20, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

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. Specifically, how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Facing Prosecutors is the title of Pastor Rick's message, and today he'll be teaching in Acts chapter 24. 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's attempts to exploit Paul. Later at the end, we'll read that he wanted a bribe from Paul. Corrupted judges ignore innocents, 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, 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. 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, but 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. 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 sometime 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, and 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 them alone.

It goes the other way. Christ says, You're ready for them. I made you ready for them. 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 are 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 and 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. And so, we Christians, we have to accept that life hurts and losses, we accept them without losing Christ. Without losing our trust in Him. Just a resolve, a determination. I have hope in God.

Well, those are empty words when pressure comes and you lose the hope. Without trusting Him, we become fatigued, we become bitter, and we can become not only backsliders, but we can become apostates. Fall away entirely from the faith. Paul talks a lot about those kind of people. He says that there will be a resurrection of the dead. Looking again at 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.

Well, he's quoting their scripture. Daniel chapter 12, verses 3 and 4. Daniel preached a resurrection of the dead. Daniel 12, beginning in verse 2. The first four verses are good, but we'll just take these two. Many of those who sleep, a euphemism for dead, in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Laid out, very clear. I don't think there's anybody who can read that misunderstands what that says, unless they start lying because they don't like it. He says, Daniel does, those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, but those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. That's what Paul is trying to do. He's trying to turn people to righteousness, and he's done an incredible job.

And again, he's not the only one. Other Christians were hard at work doing the same thing. People are accountable to God for their behavior, whether they agree or not, whether they like it or not. And that's part of our message when we talk about the good news, there is also the bad news.

And the bad news is if you reject the good news, it's going to be bad. Well, verse 16, this being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. I've worked for this, Paul is saying. I've worked to have a good standing with God and men.

Not enough to just say, well, you know, God loves me and everybody else hates me. Well, I mean, there are certain circumstances where everybody does gang up on you, but in our world, there are righteous churches. And in those churches are people that are ready to love.

They're eager to love because Christ lives in them. Last time Paul made this statement in the presence of Ananias, they struck him on the command of Ananias. But now, this is a Roman court, and they can't get to him. So he stands his ground and he repeats what he said. This is his testimony.

He's not apologizing because he got struck for this last time. As far as he knows, they might get to him again some way. But he knows whom he believes in, and he doesn't hold it back. His testimony was acceptable.

This testimony is acceptable to God. We just read through Isaiah, King Hezekiah made a very similar statement. Isaiah 38, Hezekiah speaking to God when he was told he was going to die, and he's appealing to God to spare his life. He's not ready to die.

Not a good example in some ways, but in other ways, it's very human. He says, remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before you in truth with a loyal heart and have done what is good in your sight. That's their scripture.

That is their law. And what was the outcome of that? God granted his prayer requests. He never rebuked him for that. He rewarded him. Not simply for that, but if it was wrong for a believer to stand up and say that I always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men, there's nothing wrong with saying that.

It's not being arrogant. If you as a Christian say, I try to serve the Lord, I try to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, there is no violation against the Spirit of God for saying that because those who say that will be quick to say, O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? We are aware of our sin, but we're also, what makes the Christian effective in hard times is we're aware of the hard times, we are aware of our own weakness, but we are also aware of the strength of Christ to overcome anything.

So long as we seek him. He told Paul, my strength is made perfect in weakness. Well, he couldn't have his strength be perfect any other way because we're all weak. We're weakened by sin. Man, I love the Word of God. I get so frustrated that I can't do better at being a Christian.

But that ain't going to make me stop striving, trying to be better all the time. I can handle this kind of pressure. I'm built for this kind of pressure. When God saved me, he said, you're built to deal with the curse. He says that to every Christian. You're built for this because I built you.

When mankind fell, I was ready for it, as ugly as it is, as painful, unfair. You know, you've seen the bumper sticker, life is such and such and then you die. That's your testimony.

That's not mine. Life is cursed, but there's work to do in the midst of it, and Satan hates that we pull it off. And the proof is all the people that have been saved through the ages. There will be a multitude of people in heaven that will be saved from this life, and God used other people in this life to do it. Well, we're part of that number.

You know, when the saints go marching in, I want to be part of that number. Verse 17, now after many years, I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, verse 18, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. So he's refuting the charges against him. Verse 19, they ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. He said, I'm bringing humanitarian relief to my people in Jerusalem.

Now, these were the Christians that were suffering hardship, and we covered that in earlier chapters. And neither Tertullius, the prosecutor, or the high priest, or any of those with them were present when the ruckus broke out at the temple. There are no witnesses here. It's all hearsay, which is hearsay charges don't count.

And Felix, he knows that. He's not going to set Paul free because he's corrupt. But by law, there's no charges. He's innocent.

Go. But God is not only protecting Paul from the assassins that want to kill him, but he's going to use this man to preach to the upper crust of that ancient world, and there will be souls saved. Jewish law required witnesses against the accused.

They had none. They're constantly trampling their own Bible, but they don't care. What they want, what they feel, what they enjoy is more important than what God said. It's up to them and their twisted thinking to try to fake it, to hold up God's word on the outside, but not on the inside, and the word for that is hypocrisy. Verse 20, or else, Paul continues, let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council.

Now Paul knows if they start lying, they're going to be in trouble if they get caught, and they're not going to do that. Verse 21, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them concerning the resurrection of the dead, I am being judged by you this day. Is believing in the resurrection a crime, Paul says? He's saying also our own scriptures, as I just read from Daniel, our own scriptures speak about those who are dead living after life. The details have been, of course, expanded for us in the New Testament. Verse 22, but when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the way, and you see how Luke refers to Christianity as the way at this phase.

Even though the word had been circulating, Christian had been circulating, there were those old school followers that still referred to our faith as the way. And he says, but when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, when Lasias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case. Well, he's lying. In fact, there's no evidence that Lasias was even commanded to come to the court. He's not subpoenaed, summons to the court, but this is who Felix was, a lot of power and a little bit of brain. Verse 23, so he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

Yeah, he's hoping they're going to be bringing him money so he can get this bribe that he's plotting. In fact, it's so commonplace, bribes are so common, when Luke records it, it's just a matter of fact. It's not like, but he was the exception. He's not the exception. Verse 24, 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.

Well, you know, at one point he goes home, so how was your day? Well, Paul was in my court. Really? I'd like to see that. Can I use that?

Yeah, bring your wife to work day, sure, absolutely. Anyway, liberty, the word liberty here, where he says in verse 23, let him have liberty. The Greek is to slack, like you would use the word to slack a rope. Cut him some slack. So he's not a prisoner, he's under protective custody, but he's still really a prisoner.

Anyway, he says after some days in verse 24, when Felix came with his wife. Now, to them this was entertainment. Paul was a bit of a celebrity in those days, a high profile prisoner, and he was in exhibition. They wanted to see him. And it's not going to stop here.

Festus is going to come behind Felix and do the same thing. From Paul's end, they were targets. He said, I'm going to preach to these guys. They don't know what's coming.

And this is what we're supposed to be like. He's not jamming the gospel down their throat. He is led by the Spirit to go to Rome. He is protected by God. He is totally ready for them. He knows what righteousness is and self-control and the Holy.

He knows these things and he's going to use it. So Felix again brings his wife, she of course is a Jew, in violation of the Jewish law. He seduced her away from her husband to marry him. He lured her. And her family, one reason why she'd be interested is her family had been involved in the way on several bloody occasions.

So let's look at her family tree. Her father, Herod Agrippa I, he was the one that murdered the first of the apostles to be martyred James. Well the worms ate him, not James, but the worms ate Herod Agrippa I.

Her great-grandfather therefore was Herod the Great. He is the one that we're all familiar with who tried to kill the child Jesus and ordered the baby boys of Bethlehem to be killed and they did just that. He was a butcher. Where's he right now?

He's still alive somewhere, just not on earth. He is conscious of his sin. Her great-uncle killed John the Baptist and mocked Jesus and has the dubious honor of being the only person in the Bible that Jesus flat-out ignored. That's pretty heavy stuff when God ignores you. And so this is her family tree.

And yeah, she wants to see this leader of the way, one of the leaders. And look at this, you say well if Paul had not been arrested, again I'm repeating this because it's that important, had he not been arrested he would not have the chance to preach to these reprobates and those in the court that are also hearing what's going on. And as we get into the other letters and Paul says well say hi to Cortis and say hi to Segundus. He is rattling off all these names of people who came to Christ. Some of those names were part of various, the courts of various rulers.

One grew up with the Herod's. He could have had his feelings hurt. I can't believe God let the Romans put me in jail. I didn't do anything wrong.

There's a lot of things he could have done that he did not do and the things he could do he did do and they were right. 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 That's 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 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 / 2024-02-20 09:55:10 / 2024-02-20 10:04:29 / 9

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