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Life of Paul Part 32 - Keeping the Right Authority in Life

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 31, 2020 7:00 am

Life of Paul Part 32 - Keeping the Right Authority in Life

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, good morning, everybody. It's wonderful to see you guys here. How about taking a copy of the Bible and let's opening it together.

And we're going to be continuing in our study of the life of the great man of God, the Apostle Paul. Now, if you've been watching much television lately, you know that one of the most familiar faces recently on television has been the face of this lady. That's right. It's Miss Cleo.

You bet. And Miss Cleo offers to read the tarot cards and tell you your future. In her Caribbean accent, she says, call me, call me now for your free reading. And yet Susan Grant, the director of the National Fraud Information Center said, and I quote, people who call her think they're getting a free reading to sample the service.

They end up being hit with charges they couldn't see even with their own crystal ball. Now, currently, Miss Cleo is under indictment in eight states for everything ranging from deceptive advertising to fraud. But according to the best government estimates, Miss Cleo and her hotline have earned somewhere around 400 million dollars. Can you believe that?

And the amazing thing is people keep calling this lady. Now, the point of all of this is that there is a lot of money to be made in the fortune telling market. And this isn't just true today in the 21st century. This was true 2000 years ago in the days of the Apostle Paul. And we're going to look at how the Apostle Paul interrupted some of this money flow back there in Philippi. And as a result, how he created quite a mess for himself back there.

And then we're going to try to bring all that forward and talk about what difference it makes in our lives today. Remember the Apostle Paul and his team were traveling around, leading what we call today the second missionary journey. They've worked their way through modern day Turkey, they've crossed the Aegean Sea, and now they're in northern Greece here in Europe at the city of Philippi. And here at Philippi, there was a young lady who was demonized who began following the Apostle Paul. And finally, he turned to the demon and he said, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her. And at that moment, the Bible says the demon left her. You say, wow, that's great. I mean, here you've got this young lady who's now in her right mind, she's restored, she's healed. I mean, everybody in Philippi must have been, they must have been thrilled. Well, not exactly.

And I'll tell you why. Because verse 16 tells us that she earned a lot of money for her owners by fortune telling. This young girl was the Miss Cleo of Philippi. And when the demon suddenly was cast out of her, her hotline went off the air, if you know what I'm saying.

And so these guys are pretty upset about that. And so that's where we want to pick up the story verse 19, when the owners of the slave girl realize that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and they dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. Now, this whole section of Acts chapter 16 is full of information where modern archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible. To begin with, Luke here in this verse mentions the marketplace, literally the bima in Greek, where the girls owners dragged the Apostle Paul and Silas.

Now a bima, it was a raised platform where judges would sit to hear cases and hand down judicial sentences. And we today in archaeology have unearthed the actual bima in ancient Philippi, where the Bible says that these men dragged the Apostle Paul. And isn't it interesting when we dug up the city of Philippi, we found it there exactly the way the Bible says that it was in Paul's day.

Let's go on, I'll show you some more. Verse 20 says they brought Paul and Silas before the magistrates. Now here we have another confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Bible. Luke tells us here that the Apostle Paul was brought before Philippi's magistrates, plural. We know from history that a Greek city would normally be ruled by a single official. He was called a strategos, meaning a ruler or a general. This practice went all the way back to the early Greek city states where everybody by democratic vote would elect this strategos to rule over the city.

One of the guys like this, you might remember the name Pericles of Athens was one of these strategoi, one of these rulers. But here, the Bible tells us that in Philippi, there was more than one magistrate, more than one local ruler, two to be exact. And for many, many years, scholars said, Well, you see there, that's just another example of where the Bible just got it wrong. It's just historically inaccurate. Well, friends, now we know today that for all those centuries that the scholars had been impugning the Bible the truth is the Bible had it right. And all these so called scholars had it wrong.

And let me explain to you why we know that. Verse 12 of this chapter tells us that Philippi was a Roman colony. And I want to go and give you a little bit of the history of the city of Philippi so you understand why Luke was exactly right in saying there were two magistrates over this colony. The city of Philippi began in 350 BC, was established by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great.

But Philippi's claim to fame rather, didn't come for a couple of centuries. And it came as the result of two military battles that were fought there in 42 BC, Augustus, who became the future Emperor of Rome, and Mark Antony, that was the boyfriend of Cleopatra, you remember him, he had their forces defeated the forces of Cassius and Brutus here at Philippi. Brutus was the guy who stabbed Julius Caesar, you know, et tu, Brute, you remember, they might take Latin. All right, you remember that you too Brutus. And, and this was the Brutus who was responsible for killing Julius Caesar, there was a big fight that was right there. And Augustus defeated them along with Mark Antony. 10 years later, in 31 BC, Augustus defeated the forces of just Mark Antony here at Philippi again, establishing himself as the undisputed Emperor of Rome, and ending 12 years of civil war. Now, Augustus, as the new Emperor loved this city of Philippi.

I mean, he'd gone two for two here, if you understand what I'm saying. And he wanted to honor this city. So he declared it a Roman colony, a Roman colony was like a little piece of Rome, sitting on foreign soil. And a Roman colony, number one, had a representative that sat in the Roman Senate in Rome, it had a contingent of the Roman army that was stationed there to defend it. It had roads, Roman roads built connecting it with the rest of the Empire.

You remember, we talked about the Ignatian Way a couple weeks ago that connected Philippi with Rome herself. Well, the rest of the cities in the Roman Empire had dirt roads. But if you were a colony, you got a Roman road built to connect you with the rest of the Empire. Also a Roman colony had the right of Libertas, meaning that it had autonomous local government that used Roman law and Roman administrative practice. It had the right of immunitas, meaning that the people who lived in this colony were immune from taxes and tribute that everybody else in the Roman Empire had to pay. It had the right of usitalicum, meaning that all the legal decisions that were made in a Roman colony had the same weight throughout the Empire as if they'd been made in Rome herself. And finally, it had the right of civilitas, meaning that all the citizens of Philippi immediately became Roman citizens when it was pronounced a Roman colony, which in these days was huge.

It was a big deal, as we're going to see in the next couple of weeks. And you say, well, I just kind of figured everybody in the Roman Empire was a Roman citizen. Well, not true, Kemosabe, not true. And the rights and privileges that went along with being a Roman citizen were enormous. There were very few Roman citizens compared to everybody in the Roman Empire. Sir William Ramsay, in his book The Cities of St. Paul, says, and I quote, a Roman colony was a detached fragment of Rome itself, separated from Rome by distance, but populated by Roman citizens who were extended equal standing and identical privileges in the eyes of Roman law as the inhabitants of Rome itself. Now, there's one other fact about Roman colonies that's very important. They were governed by praetors, or as it's translated here in verse 20, magistrates, who were appointed annually by the Emperor himself. And guess how many praetors or magistrates every Roman colony had? They didn't have one the way every other Greek city had. They had, guess how many? Two.

That's exactly right. Every Roman colony was ruled by two magistrates appointed by the Emperor himself. Isn't it interesting that the Bible here in telling us that Philippi had two magistrates got it right, and all these people have been criticized in the Bible for all these years got it wrong. Luke was right.

There were two praetors here because this was a Roman colony. Now, if you're here today, and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your real and personal Savior, listen to me for a second because this is really important what we've just been talking about to you. Many times people aren't willing to make that decision to trust Christ because they have doubts about whether the Bible is really true, whether it's really credible, whether it's really trustworthy. And what I'm here to tell you is they found that bima exactly where the Bible says it was going to be, that Philippi had two rulers just the way the Bible says they had. The more we dig out of the ground, the more the Bible proves to be right.

Friends, not only is the Bible right when it comes to bimas and praetors, it's also right when it comes to what it says about Jesus Christ and about how to get eternal life. You don't have a thing to worry about. The Bible has withstood the test of everything that's ever been dug out of the ground. It has proved trustworthy and reliable. Even in the face of scholars who were sure it was wrong, they ended up being wrong. You got nothing to worry about. If your concern is that the Bible is not trustworthy, I'm here to tell you, you can lay that concern to rest and trust what Jesus tells you in the Bible about eternal life. It's true and smart people pay attention to it.

I hope you will. Well, let's go on. Verse 20 said, and they said to the magistrates, they brought Paul and Silas in, and they said to the magistrates, these men are Jews.

Now stop there a second. Why in the world would they start like that? I mean, why in the world would these magistrates even care whether Paul and Silas were Jews?

What difference does that make to them? Ah, here we've got another connection of the Bible with historically accurate data. Let me tell you why they started that way with their comment. In 50 AD, this is where we are 50, the end of 50 AD, that's when Paul and Silas are in in Philippi. Earlier that very same year, we know from Roman records that the Emperor of Rome, his name was Claudius, expelled all the Jews out of the city of Rome, threw them out of the city of Rome. Now, if you're a Roman official, and you know the Emperor doesn't like Jewish people, and has thrown them all out of the city. And if you're a magistrate in Philippi, and you have to depend on the Emperor to reappoint you every single year, wouldn't it make sense for you to start off if you're going to make an accusation by saying these men are Jews, man, you know, you'd have those people attention running that city on behalf of Emperor Claudius.

And that's exactly why they started that way. These men are Jews. And let's go back to the verse. They are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs that are unlawful for us Romans to accept or to practice. What were these customs that were unlawful for Romans to accept and practice that Paul and Silas were doing? Well, in these days, the official religion of the Roman Empire was Emperor worship.

A local city could keep whatever local gods they had, so long as beyond those local gods, they recognize the supremacy of the Emperor as the god of the Roman Empire and the god of the world. And the accusation against Paul and Silas is that they were coming to down preaching a different God as being the supreme god of the world, not Emperor Claudius, but the true and living God of the universe. Do you understand the charge? Well, verse 22, and the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them, Paul and Silas, to be stripped and to be beaten. And after they had been severely flogged, they, Paul and Silas, were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Now, in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 25, Paul says, three times I have been beaten with rods. And certainly this was one of the times he was talking about. Right here in Philippi, these rods that Paul and Silas were beaten with were specially designed by the Romans, and they were designed with claws in them so that when you got hit with them, they literally ripped and tore the flesh right off your bone. In fact, this punishment was so cruel and so horrible that a Roman citizen, Roman law said no Roman citizen was allowed to be beaten with these rods, no matter what crime you had committed. Well, you say, wait a minute, I thought the apostle Paul was a Roman citizen.

He was. And the problem is these magistrates didn't stop long enough to ask and find out, which means they're in deep matzah. You understand what I'm saying? And we're going to see a little bit later as we move through this passage, this is going to play huge in how this whole thing ends up working out. But anyway, they beat Paul and Silas.

And so bleeding, you can't even imagine what their backs must have look like. They got thrown into jail and that's where we're going to stop. And we're going to leave Paul in jail for a week till we come back next week.

And we pick up because we want to stop now and ask the most important question. And y'all know what that question is. So here we go.

Nice and loud 123. Right. Say, Lon, so what? Say, man, I feel bad for Paul. That's awful.

They beat him like that. And I appreciate all that history. I feel like I'm back in high school. Lon, God bless you. God bless you for that.

But what difference does this make in my life? Well, let's see if we can make that connection for you. Did you notice how interesting it is the charges that these owners of the girl brought against the apostle Paul and Silas? What was their charge that they brought?

Ostensibly, what was the charge? Well, they said, verse 21, these men are advocating customs that are unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice. And we know, of course, the custom was that these men weren't teaching emperor worship.

Now, here's my question. Was that really the issue? See, they bring an issue and they say, we've got a theological issue with these guys. We've got a religious issue with these guys. Was that really the issue? No.

No, of course not. We know what the real issue was. It's in verse 19 when the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone. The real issue here had nothing to do with theology. It had nothing to do with religion. The issue here was that the apostle Paul had hurt these guys in the pocketbook.

That was the issue. Their issue was financial, not theological. But they went and they found a theological covering to put over the real issue.

Does everybody see that? And folks, let's just be honest. If the apostle Paul had come to town and had never affected these guys' pocketbooks, do you think they'd have had the slightest care, the slightest bit what the apostle Paul was preaching? They could have cared less what he was preaching. They didn't have any theological issues really with him. And conversely, if the apostle Paul had come to town preaching something that it would have helped them make more money, they'd have been out on the street handing out tracts with him. These people's issue was financial, not theological. Now, it's important that we all understand that these guys decided first what their lifestyle was. They wanted to make money and then they went and found a theology that fit it and it just so happened to be emperor worship at that moment in time. They didn't decide on their theology first and then establish their lifestyle based on it.

They did it the other way around. Do we all understand that? That's the key to understanding this passage. Or to put it another way, these guys decided first how they wanted to live, the habits they wanted to practice, the money they wanted to make, and then they went and found a theology that justified it. Now, I understand how these guys lived because, you know, when I was in college and before I met Jesus Christ, I lived just like they did. I didn't want any absolute standards of right and wrong in my life, so I went and found relativism and I made it my theology. I didn't want some God telling me what to do and what I could and couldn't do and bossing me around and in my world, so I went and found evolution and I made it my theology. I didn't want anybody putting restrictions on my pleasures, so I went and found hedonism and I made it my reality. If MTV had been around then, I'd have gone to Club Hedonism for spring break.

I would have. Now, in fact, I wanted to roll all this together and be a Hare Krishna because I thought, well, they kind of put all of this theology together. But the problem being a Hare Krishna is, you know, you got to live in these communities that they have and I actually came up here to Washington and for three or four days lived in one of these communities, but the food was terrible.

It was terrible. They had all this butter in the food and I hate butter and I thought, man, I can't be a Hare Krishna. I'm gonna starve to death if I'm a Hare Krishna.

Besides, I can't dance and I look terrible in a ponytail. So I said, no, no, no, I'm not gonna be a Hare Krishna. But I went out first and established what I wanted to do. I didn't have some theology run in my life and then I made lifestyle decisions based on that. I decided how I wanted to live and then I went looking for theologies that would allow me to justify my lifestyle. I lived just like these guys did.

You said, well, of course you do. You weren't a follower of Jesus Christ. We wouldn't expect you to live any other way. I wish it were that simple, friends.

I wish it were. I've been a pastor 22 years and you know what I found? I found that there are scads of people who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ who go to church and they attend Bible studies and they go to small groups and yet in various areas of their life, they live exactly the way I did in college. They live exactly the way these guys lived in Philippi. You say, well, I'm not sure I really understand what you're talking about.

Well, let me see if I can help you. We all know the Bible teaches sexual purity outside of marriage, that before we're married and while we're married that we're to be sexually pure. And yet I've run into all kinds of followers of Christ who've decided they want to have sex with their boyfriend. They want to have sex with their girlfriend.

They want to live together before they get married. And I've had people say to me, but you don't understand, we love each other. And you know the Bible says, 1 Corinthians 13, now these three things endure faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.

God says in the Bible, the greatest thing there is is love. It's more important than anything, even the rules in the Bible about sexual relations. We know the Bible teaches, second of all, the Bible teaches heterosexual behavior, but I've run into followers of Christ who've decided they want to pursue homosexual behavior, who said to me, Well, you know, Jonathan and David in the Bible, I mean, they were lovers, you know that?

And the Apostle Paul, the reason he didn't get married is because he was gay, you know that? And Lon, judge not lest ye be judged. We all know the Bible calls us to conduct our affairs in life with integrity and honesty and decency. And yet I've met men and women in business who've done things that are cruel and wrong and unethical and dishonest. And they said, Well, you know, business is business, just business, you know, and the Bible says that a person has the responsibility to provide for their family. And that's all I was doing.

Because if I hadn't done it to them first, they'd have done it to me. We all know the Bible teaches that we as followers of Christ are to marry other people who are devoted followers of Christ. And those are the only folks were to marry. And yet I can't tell you how many people I've had in my office, guys and girls who are engaged to somebody that's not a follower of Christ. And when I ask them about it, they go, Well, you know, Jesus said, Go out in the world and reach everybody. And how am I going to reach him or her? If I don't marry him, I'm going to marry him and reach him.

And I'm gonna pull him up missionary marriage we're gonna have here. Well, friends, let me tell you something. When I see people living like this, they're not living any different than I lived in college.

They're not living any different than these guys who own this girl were living in Philippi. These are people who are making decisions first about the kind of life they want to live the choices they want to make the behavior they want to pursue, and then are going to God's Word and twisting the Word of God to fit in and justify the lifestyle choices that they've already decided they're going to make. Well, I'm here to tell you that's backwards. That is not the way God designed us as followers of Christ to live. Listen to what he says to Joshua. Joshua Chapter one God says, Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you from me.

Do not turn away from it to the left or to the right. Don't take the Word of God and twist it around so it fits the way you want to live. Instead, be careful that you do everything written in it. And what God is telling us as followers of Jesus Christ here is that we are to live our lives every little facet and detail of our lives in conformity with the written Word of God. We are not to decide first how we want to live the way we want to do it and then go to the Word of God and make it conform to what we've decided. We instead go to the Word of God and find out what it teaches about life. And then we conform our behavior, our lifestyle and our choices to it.

This is why David said Psalm 119 verse 59. I have considered my ways and I have turned my steps to your statutes. What is David saying here? He's saying, Lord, I've looked at my ways. I've looked at my lifestyle. I've looked at my steps, and I've decided that I'm going to take them and conform them to what your statutes tell me.

I'm not going to do it the other way around. And I personally believe that to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, this is the single greatest adjustment that you and I have to make. We've got to make the adjustment of deciding that we are no longer the authority for what we do in life. What we want is no longer the authority. What we like is no longer the authority. What we feel comfortable with is no longer the authority. The authority for our life has changed as a follower of Jesus Christ, and it has become the written Word of God. And when what we want to do differs from what the written Word of God says, we change what we want to do and make it conform to the Word of God. We don't do it the other way around. You know, I love that old commercial used to be on television for Hebrew National Hot Dogs.

Now, maybe it's my background. I don't know, but I love this commercial. You know, it comes on. You got this big picture of Uncle Sam, and he says the government says we can add non-meat fillers. We don't. The government says that we can add meat byproducts. We don't.

The government says that we can put this chemical and that chemical in. We can't. We're kosher, and we answer to a higher authority.

I love this commercial. And what I'm here to tell you today, what I'm really trying to say is that as followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are Hebrew National Hot Dogs. We are. We answer to a higher authority than what we feel like doing. What we want to do, what seems comfortable to us, that's not our authority. We answer to the authority of the written Word of God. What it says comes first, and then we conform our behavior to it. Let's summarize.

What are we seeing today? Well, we've seen that one of the distinguishing marks of a true disciple of Jesus is that we keep the right authority in life. We don't have the authority in life that these guys in Philippi had, and we don't have the authority in life that I had as a college student, which is ourselves. The authority that we have is the written Word of God, and we remember that we are Hebrew National Hot Dogs, that we are subject to this authority. It's a higher authority than us. That's why Psalm 119 says, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. God didn't say what you and I want to do is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, but the Word of God. That's why Proverbs 3 5 says, Do not lean on our own understanding.

And so how are you doing on this? I mean, my question to you and me is, are we really maintaining the right authority in our life? You say, Well, Lon, how would I know? I mean, give me some kind of test.

Well, I'll give you a real quick litmus test. Here's how you can know what the real authority in your life is. When faced with any choice in life, when faced with any situation in life, there's only one of two questions you and I will ask first in trying to decide what to do. We will either ask the question, What do I feel like doing? That'll be the first thing we ask, and then we'll answer it and go do it. That'll be one way of approaching it. Or the other question that we'll ask is, What does God tell me to do in the Bible? And then we'll find that out.

And we'll go do that. And you can tell here's a little litmus test, you can tell what the real authority in your life is by simply asking and answering the question, which one of these two questions do I ask myself first, and you'll know what your authority in life is. Folks, I'm here to call you and me to a different kind of lifestyle. I'm here to call you and me as followers of Christ to a different way of living. I'm here to call us to a different worldview than the people around you every single day.

I'm here to call us to a lifestyle and a worldview that is based on the authority of the written Word of God. And when it differs from what our behavior is, we change our behavior. We change our behavior. That's how God wants you and me to live. That's how real disciples live. And if that's not how you're living, then I got a real simple piece of advice for you.

Change it. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about real life. You know, these choices that we're talking about are choices that we have to make every day multiple times. And Lord, my prayer is that you would speak deeply to us and remind us today that you've given us a plan.

You've given us a pattern as to how to approach these kind of choices in life. The pattern is that we keep the right authority, the authority of the Word of God, and we conform our behavior to it. Now, Lord, if any of us here need course correction, if any of us here need to make some changes, my prayer is that you would give us the courage to ask for your help and together with you as our partner to make the changes we need to make so that the Word of God really is the authority in every part of our lives. Lord, change the way we live. Change the very way we approach life because we were here today and we interacted with the Word of God. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And God's people said, Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 04:51:33 / 2023-06-10 05:03:19 / 12

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