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Facing Prosecutors (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2024 6:00 am

Facing Prosecutors (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 21, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


The Holy Spirit is in action here. Jesus said this to his apostles. When he, the Holy Spirit, has come, he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. When he says the world, he means there's no escape. Whoever comes in contact with this gospel is going to get conviction.

What they do is a different thing. Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. You can't know righteousness without knowing sin.

Paul said, I would not have known covetousness except the law told me. 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. Now here's Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts chapter 24 with his message called Facing Prosecutors. 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, oh 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 in 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 as 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 were 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?

So 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 it was an 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 we look at this and 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, oh, 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. So they invited him as a novelty. He's going to cut them all with his words. He's going to slash through them.

They're all going to squirm by the time he's done and he's not even trying. He's just telling the gospel. Verse 25. 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. Now as he reasoned, he made sense. He presented facts about our faith that you just could not excuse or just laugh away. Pilate did not give Christ a chance to answer when Pilate said, what is truth?

He didn't give Jesus a chance to say, you're looking at him. The Holy Spirit is in action here. Jesus said this to his apostles, when he, the Holy Spirit has come, he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. When he says the world, he means there's no escape. Whoever comes in contact with this gospel is going to get conviction.

What they do is a different thing. Of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. You can't know righteousness without knowing sin. Paul said, I would not have known covetousness except the law told me and of judgment. This is just a summary of what he preached. Judaism had long become useless when it came to making converts to reaching lost souls. Jeremiah, almost 600 years earlier, at Jerusalem's first temple's destruction, he wrote this in his lamentation after the temple was destroyed.

Man, can you imagine? This great prophet was devastated. And if you read lamentations, he is almost blaspheming like Job. It really let it out. His feelings were just, he just, just beat up.

But he hung in there. And he writes, your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions. They have not uncovered your iniquity to bring back your captives, but have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions. He's saying your pastors are withholding the truth. They don't want to hurt your feelings.

They can't, they don't want to tell you the truth. So they too have become apostates and liars. Not all, thank God, as I'm standing here, there are many churches throughout this world where pastors are preaching the truth to congregations who want just that.

Not in California yet. They're still sleeping. But we get the picture. That merits reading again in a society where Christians want everything it seems sometimes, but scripture. Or they just want doses of scripture. Cherry picked.

Tailor cut. They have not uncovered your iniquity. That's when he says, when Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, he will convict the world of sin. He will expose the sin that has to be dealt with. True prophets, true pastors always disturb the impenitent sinners and the shallow believers along with them. The shallow believers are challenged.

The unbelievers are invited. Inherence to the scripture as intended by God, preached and pursued by Bible-believing pastors. That is the template we have from the book of Acts through the rest of the New Testament. Of course in Jesus, no question.

Even into the Old Testament. He says about righteousness. Righteousness in this context, holiness, holiness is corrected character before God. Righteousness is corrected conduct around people. All of it in the presence of God, of course. Holiness is corrected character. That gets in deep. Righteousness is corrected conduct.

This is a basic definition for the righteousness that is connected to the holiness. The Gentiles, they had their made-up gods and they brandished all the human vices. Those gods were vindictive. They were jealous. They were murderers. They were everything that God calls us not to be. These were the gods they worshipped. Paul, when he's laying this out, Felix is getting a dose of something he never had before and so is Jerusalem.

But, well, let's keep going. The God of Paul is this, Hebrews chapter 7, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, higher than the heavens. That's our Lord.

That is our God. He says self-control. Been talking about feelings a lot. Felix and Jerusalem, they again knew nothing of the righteousness to self-control and the judgment to come. Billy Sunday was a preacher many decades ago and he had a quotable way about him. Self-control is not letting the feelings run the ship. Who is the captain of your faith? Your feelings or the Lord? So Billy says this, and you younger Christians, this is mainly for you.

Well, but not exclusively. Strive for self-control by forming good habits before bad ones fasten themselves upon you. A thread can be broken, but a rope will hang you. He had a way about him, Billy Sunday did.

All of his quotes, many of his quotes are just great. He says, and judgment, accountability to an almighty God. Jesus said it this way in one section of Matthew, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. In other words, it would be too late. They will be sorry and they will be angry because they will not change.

And he says, to come. It's impossible to cancel disappointment. Ecclesiastes 8.11, because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. They think they're getting away with it, like a bratty child that just keeps pushing and pushing the boundaries and testing and is not being corrected.

A problem for everybody else. Well, that's what Solomon recognized with adults that were doing this with God. It says here that Felix was afraid.

Your King James, the older King James may say terrified, but afraid is, terrified might be a bit much, but afraid is sufficient. This was his hour of opportunity. His fear was the touch of God upon him, upon his soul.

He was guilty before the God that Paul was presenting to him. And his heart may have trembled, but it did not break. This fear that he has in hearing the gospel is going to fade. It's going to go to the point where he hears it so much it just doesn't do anything. This is the danger of playing with the truth of God.

There are a few in this alumni. Herod, the one who killed John the Baptist, he was moved by what he heard John preach. And yet the day came where he ordered his beheading nonetheless. It's not enough to be convicted. Conviction of sin without repentance is useless.

It actually works against you. It's not enough to be convicted. You must be converted. Jesus said it this way, you must be born again. There is only one convenient time to receive the gospel, and that is as soon as you hear it. Because you're not promised a second chance, nor you promise to get better at listening to it the way God wants you to.

The convenient time for Felix never came. He undervalued what God had to say. Tomorrow comes, tomorrow quickly becomes yesterday. Conviction does not guarantee conversion. Isaiah 55, seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. The inference is he may not always be near.

Here's a few from that alumni of last chances. Pharaoh, I mean look at the miracles he saw, and he was not converted. He was killed in the Red Sea chasing the Jewish people to their deaths. There was Nineveh. They got one chance.

They took it. They were converted. And as I mentioned, Herod Antipas, the one who killed John, Nero will hear the gospel. And about that time, after Nero hears the gospel, because he was a relatively decent leader as Caesars go, until he reached a point where he snapped.

And according to my research, it's about the time Paul would have been in front of him. And so dismissing the gospel, he becomes this beast. Revelation 2, verse 21. And this is a good verse to read to an unbeliever who you're sharing the gospel with. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. So the choice, the free will is there.

There's no way around it. When it comes to salvation, the Bible preaches you have a choice in this matter. Verse 26, meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him.

Therefore, he sent for him more often and conversed with him. Didn't he just get to talking to you about righteousness, self-control, and judgment? And yet, he just dismisses it, and he's got his greedy fingers held out nonetheless, hoping that he could manipulate Paul into bribing him. But Paul's testimony was more important than his freedom.

Man, that's big. Put yourself in a jailhouse with an opportunity to bribe your way out, or to stand firm in the testimony you gave. That would have wiped out everything Paul said of righteousness and self-control and judgment to come, and then he goes ahead and he buys his freedom in a court that is supposed to uphold righteousness. Well, the motto of Felix was just this. Who needs righteousness when selfishness will get you what you want?

But it won't get you what you need. We are all quick at being selfish, and we've got to watch it, restrain the flesh. Therefore, he sent for him more often and conversed with him. Never again did Paul make Felix tremble. We don't read of that happening again. Truth became amusing to Felix. He's a dead man walking because of it, and where is Felix now? He knew the truth of God, but did nothing about it. And there it sat on his heart, untouched, rejected ultimately, till the day he was damned. And where is he now? Verse 27, but after two years, Portia's Festus succeeded Felix, and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Well, he's going to do that. He's fired by Rome. He's summoned to Caesar. He's doing this to hopefully, when he gets in front of Caesar, he says, I tried to help those guys. They had one that they hated.

I kept him injured. What are they talking about? Anyway, he's moved out of office after two years. And are there exceptions to bribery? I don't think there are, but there is a distinction between bribery and ransom. Let's say, for example, you're trying to adopt a child from a country where it is just totally given to evil. But you can't do it without greasing some palms. They're just not going to let you do it. That's ransom.

That's paying the price for them. That is not joining into the sin that is going on because Jesus did that for me. He ransomed me off the slave block of Satan. He didn't use cash. He used blood. And he used holy blood.

So, yeah, there are times that we look at things and we say, Hey, not so fast here. Let's look at this a little bit more. Paul was not trying to ransom his own freedom. That would have been the bribery.

But there are situations where we're cast into, and we have to be careful that we're not sinning, but that we understand that paying for a lost soul that is steeped in innocence is part of a ransom price. 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 / 2024-02-21 09:26:07 / 2024-02-21 09:35:27 / 9

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