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The Trial Before Festus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2020 8:00 am

The Trial Before Festus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 28, 2020 8:00 am

Its not what we would call justice. An innocent man sits in prison for two years after his trial because the judge wont render a verdict. But now a new judge replaces the old one, and the case goes back to trial again. Keep listening as Dr. Boice follows Paul through the politics and corruption of the Roman court systemwith Gods hand directing every step.

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One of the really amazing things about the work of God in the life of the Christian is the way in which he uses circumstances to bring about his own desirable lands and unnecessarily we might think of as larger dramatic circumstances sometimes they quite often it is the little circumstances of our lives. The apostle Paul is an example of Blacks whom we see an additional benefit of God's plan for his life for circumstances in the chapter that it's our privilege to study now. I think as I approach it of what the Lord Jesus Christ had said to Paul when he was still in Jerusalem when he had been the victim of the outrage of the mob in Jerusalem and had been taken into custody and no doubt was feeling for the future and Jesus appeared to him and said these words take courage as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome or Jesus Christ told Paul that he was going to testify about him and and when we realize that we look at the story we see vast tapestry of circumstances that God uses to bring that about. Some of them go back quite far in Paul's life he was. For example, born of a Roman citizen and therefore had Roman citizenship after allowing this story as we find in the book of acts. This is not seem terribly important but suddenly becomes important and it emerges is of great importance in this 25th chapter of the book was a matter of the false accusations brought against Paul by the Asian Jews to where they are in Jerusalem. On this occasion. At the same time he wants Paul had no anticipation that they would be there certainly had no expectation that an accusation of this nature would be made but suddenly as it seemed from out of the blue.

Here were these men who knew his stance so far as freedom for Christians from ceremonial law, the Jews was concerned that they broke out in public accusations which led to a riot which in turn led to Paul's last all of the circumstances in the hands of Almighty God was circumstantial, but of God that a man who was in charge of the arresting party was such an outstanding officer and it was some circumstance but nevertheless circumstances controlled by God, that when they 40 zealots of the Jews got together and took an oath saying that they would need a drink until they had killed Paul setting about an assassination plot that Paul's nephew a young boy just happened to be there in Jerusalem to overhear Robert on the ball and then Paul's direction was able to tell the story to the Roman commander so people together a detachment of soldiers and had Paul escorted from the city. What is life been in continuous danger and brought eventually to Caesarea. Paul appeared before Felix. We looked at that trial. Felix, I suppose if he had done the right thing should've acquitted Paul humanly speaking, as we look at the story we would have said, well, that's what we would've desired. Certainly that Paul would have been set free.

That wasn't the way God worked things out rather Felix delay was characteristic of the land not to act decisively and he delayed for two years, until eventually as we find out from the story.

He was succeeded by a brother governor called pestis and the character of Festus comes into the story.

At this point, one of the things we find by circumstances that when the Jews said to Festus, now that you're here we can get on with his business. The concerns Paul, why don't you bring them up to Jerusalem so we can be tried, we find the Festus said no. He said rather he'll be tried in Caesarea you come down there.

Now that's interesting because in this story a little later on he proposes to Paul the very thing that is Jewish accusers proposed originally. Would you like to go up to Jerusalem to be tried there, but at the beginning you said no and so one more little piece of the puzzle falls in place eventually in the midst of the story Paul makes is a appeal to Caesar, Festus, who was a very decisive man replies immediately and so wheels finally got charting for that transfer of the apostle now prisoner to Rome where he had an opportunity to witness even within the courts of Caesar. Isn't it interesting how God uses circumstances. The Christian's life. Of course, what was true for Paul is true for us as well. You're a Christian. If you look back over your life with any discernment. Certainly you can see how God is using little circumstances of life to bring you where you are. Some cases it's little circumstances what we might even call trivial things is brought you to the faith. Few moments ago, a woman that I've known here in the congregation for a long time told me something about her conversion that I've never heard before.

She said God used a horse to bring me the Savior she saw a puzzled look on my face's that have ever told you that story. I said no as a matter fact you haven't well I got it right. She told very briefly as to the effect that her daughter got interested in horses and eventually she joined an equestrian team where she met the mother Christian, who was one of the riders competitors letter to the Lord and then through that testimony. Eventually this woman came to know the Lord as well.

So she says, God used a horse and my salvation. If you look back over your life, you find that many things like that. It's worth remembering. Because you see when we look back we can be very very wise as Christians, we can say all I see how God used all these many circumstances isn't he wonderful, but in the midst of circumstances especially when they don't seem so nice we find ourselves questioning God's sovereignty and we say goodness. I wonder if God knows what he's doing now have to learn from the past.

We have to learn from the experience of people like the apostle Paul that there are no accidents with God, nothing ever rises up suddenly to startle the Almighty to make him scratch his head and say oh my goodness there's a dilemma. How I ever going to get Christian out of that one God never reacts that way. God knows the end from the beginning he plans law every little thing that comes into your life failures as well as the successes the disappointments as well as the moments of happiness and satisfaction of all that is from God is working in you to accomplish his will, which where you are concerned is to mold you into the image of Jesus Christ and where others are concerned is by his grace and your testimony to bring them into the kingdom. So we need to trust them for it. Now this chapter. Chapter 25 tells of the trial of the apostle Paul before Festus compared the trial before Felix switch occurs earlier in the trial before King Agrippa which follows this account is relatively brief, no doubt because what happened here was of less significance and also because what happened here had already been covered in the earlier story.

In some ways this is just a repetition of the same charges the same response. But before another judge is worth looking at the different characters in this particular trial. There are three bodies represented directly accusers the Jews. There is the judge himself, Festus who I said is a bit different. Some ways quite different from Felix superseded him and then there is the apostle Paul in the midst of all the circumstances interesting to look at the juice in the setting because what we see in their example is what I would call the cropping effects of religion when it is not actually a contact with the living God say we tend to look upon religion is a good thing we say, well, you know, even if the person isn't really born again doesn't really trust God. It's at least better to be religious and nonreligious, but that is not necessarily the case. Religion can be very co-opting because what happens is that if the life of God is not present in the worshiper as if the person is not regenerative and therefore growing because of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with and then, religion becomes so and near hypocrisy and an excuse for doing what we really want to do. In other words we use religion to cloak our sin and sometimes to justify what is quite obviously very horrendous action. We look back in history.

Some of the worst things that have ever been done in history have been done by people who thought they were doing the will of God.

That is, religious persons, tell us what we have here is a progression but were told about these Jewish leaders from Jerusalem is that they wanted to have all transferred back to Jerusalem for trial, but that their real reason is that in verse three is that they wanted to ambush the party and kill Paul on the way I was an interesting here. Religious leaders/head of the most enlightened nation in the whole history of the human race plotting. You would think. Of course, that the Decalogue alone would've kept them from it. That commandment say thou shalt not murder. Exodus 20 verse 11, they might have pled. Of course, that this was unusual circumstances that Paul was actually guilty of a crime requiring death. Therefore, they had to intervene to secure the death penalty. But even so, they were obviously violating the laws of their own religion, which provided quite strenuous defenses for one accused of a capital crime. We would say to use our own terminology they were doing everything possible to avoid the due process of law and the irony you see is that they were the fingers of the law. Julia simply merely the secular leaders of the people, though they were that also. They were also the religious leaders of the people in Judaism, the secular law, the religious law was one yet here they were quite willing to turn their back on their own laws to secure the death murder of this one they so obviously hated one of her let me see if we look at this very carefully as the splatter growth of corruption. I say that because back in the 23rd chapter where the plot to murder Paul was first concocted. We find that it was 40 man zealots no doubt who were involved in the plot is 40 man said we think Paul should die therefore will take an oath not to eat or drink until we secure his execution by went to the religious leaders. On that occasion religious leaders were not involved in the plot initially but at that point, it would seem they turned the other way, not looking, saying, well, you do what you will do course, we don't want to be a part of it.

But if that's what you'll do well at least do our part will make an appeal to the commander to have Paul brought into the Sanhedrin again so you can get to him say they were guilty, but they weren't actually the ones who initiated it and they work actually plotting to murder you target.

Chapter 25 and now they're involved in the very thing the others were only involved in earlier way corruption spreads and that's why, in the Christian church.

We have to be so much on guard against it is very easy for religion to go astray very easy for those who for one reason or another fall into disobedience to the commands of God are who are plotting harm of someone else to somehow pull God out of the picture and say well we're doing this because God demands that we do it, it's necessary if we are to be faithful to him have to be on guard against that. While that's the religious leaders. The second party to this proceeding was the governor himself, Festus we notice right away.

One characteristic of this plan and that is unlike Felix, who apparently was quite willing to delay delay indefinitely, not only in pronouncing judgment on Paul what she certainly should've done earlier and kept them in jail for two years flooding type pass, thinking that perhaps Paul or Paul's friends would give him a bribe. Also had delayed the decision in regard to the claims of Christ which Paul pressed upon him.

He said well when it's more convenient I'll send for you will talk about it some more.

I was his character, but so with Festus. Festus was a very abrupt and decisive man you read after he arrived in the province was only three days, but he took before he left Caesarea to make his way up to Jerusalem now that is remarkable because he must've arrived by ship way they tended to travel in those days that was rigorous traveled out of all easily. You would've expected him to take time in his capital city of Caesarea to settle down, get things in order there. This is a Roman governor race very direct and what he does. Jerusalem is the center of the nation. No, not the Roman capital city, so he immediately goes up there to confer with the leaders of the people and see the situation that is facing, then after spending eight or 10 days with me makes his way back down to Caesarea get you say this is a man who literally is going places. He's trying to nail things down, take charge right away and then we read in the same story that the next day. That is, as soon as he got down there, having brought down with them. Those were going to make accusations against Paul.

He immediately brought Paul forth and heard the case. Nothing indecisive about this man, no matter of delay this case and yet he had a great flaw that in this respect. This Roman governor Festus was much like his predecessor, because what were told here is that he wanted to please the people wanted to show the Jews a favor by saying that he would. Well, that's just part of wisdom when your ruling. You have to get along with those that you roll yes yes that's true that's true. You see, in this case he was doing it at the expense of an innocent lamb and Paula Lipson. Paul knew that he knew Paul says later on here in the context of his defense. I have not done any wrong to the Jews as you yourself know very well and no doubt he did. He had been able to discover it on his own. He certainly could've argued from his predecessor Felix because Felix examined Paul concluded that he got nothing wrong that you see. Wishing to do the Jews a favor, he compromised many right actions of been bartered away because those who knew to do right wanted to please someone else or at least not offend people that they consider to be important. That is been true for Christians and the church as well as for those who were in the world.

Perhaps it has been true for us as well but is something to be repented of this chapter tells us of the trial, though in very brief language for seven says when Paul appeared to Jews would come down from Jerusalem stood around in bringing many serious charges against them which they could not prove in this chapter, the author doesn't tell us what those charges were we can guess first of all, because what was said in the previous chapter when the charges were presented before Felix's for hearing by him and then also because of the way the apostle Paul responds in verse eight. Paul responds by saying I have done nothing wrong against the law. The Jews, or against the temple or against Caesar was talking about.

There is a charge of heresy is something against the law, sacrilege. That is something against the temple, or treason. That is something against Caesar. Those are very much the charges that were brought against the Lord Jesus Christ, that he had violated the law of the Jews by not observing the Sabbath correctly. Other things that he was guilty of sacrilege because he had prophesied the destruction of the Temple and said those speaking of his own body. That would be destroyed and after three days he would raise it up and eventually the charge of treason because that is what they finally persuaded pilots to hear this man makes himself out to be a king, and if you release him. You are no friend of Caesar, is because of that, because of his sphere that such a charge would be made. The pilot consented to the death of Christ. Now it's the same thing same thing being set against Paul Mitrovich please so the accusations are made against Christians in virtually any country where people feel free to do that we violate the laws or the customs of the nation. We don't see things the way those about us. Do we don't have the same priority as we don't march to the same drama that is true, of course, Christians are a breed apart.

Christians have another Lord is true that one of the accusations of sacrilege that we don't adhere to the religion of the people among whom we live that were destructive of religious values of the early church. Christians were actually accused of being atheists because the argument went, they didn't worship the gods and goddesses of the Greek and Roman pantheon and is in the truth that we are accused of treason circumstance because Christians won't acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of the secular state try to will buy it to try to obey the laws, but the state is not an absolute. For Christians, God himself isn't so accusation is made what Paul said in his defense. Quite simply, is that he had not done any of these things, at least not in terms that would bring them in any danger in a Roman court and not of course was the whole of it because as Luke, the author says, although they brought many serious charges against him. They could not prove them say they had accused him of going about all of the Roman Empire starting up trouble within the many witnesses that they accused him of sacrilege, but they couldn't prove that they accused him of speaking against Caesar and they couldn't prove that so all Paul had to do in the circumstances is denied at the burden of the proof rested with his accusers. He said those of the accusations. I did not do those things, but the improvement in the course of proof is not forthcoming, Festus being an upright judge.

In this respect understood it, and so knew that there were no grounds for condemning the apostle Dr. C wishing to do the Jews a favor. He said you know I don't know quite how to resolve this, but it might help the situation if we would transfer your case up to Jerusalem, and let you be tried their time for me to think that he did that with utterly pure motives. For one thing, he must've known the previous history he must've known that Paul had been brought from Jerusalem to Caesarea precisely because of the danger he faced and why he wasn't going to get what we would call a fair trial in Jerusalem. He needed a change of venue to get them out of there and into a situation where the trial would be fairly conducted, but even more than that, we believe the Festus hadn't heard of the plots that he hadn't looked at the records that he didn't see that letter that had been written from Claudius Lucius explaining how that was a plot to kill Paul might be one of the commentators even suggests that this crafty Roman governor Mike even the thought that he could solve the dilemma we could get Paul to concede to going up to Jerusalem for trial and perhaps along the way. He might be assassinated and the governor could say my goodness that's too bad, but I didn't have anything to do with the man went up there willingly and that really is a very sad thing indeed. I don't know if that's the case, but I do know that wishing to do a favor is not the way to conduct a legal trial possible. I believe with the wisdom God had given him understood the situation and recognize that the only way this could be fairly resolved was for him to call upon that which was his right as a Roman citizen on appeal from the local jurisdiction of the court. Caesar in Rome. I appeal to Caesar is what he said Festus, recognizing the validity of such an appeal replied you have appealed to Caesar and to Caesar you will go, but we looked at the accusers.

We looked at the judge. We look finally at the accused Paul himself. What a contrast here for the accusers who out of hatred were willing even to assassinate the prisoner here was Festus who failed to do what he should've died as a judge because of his desire for popularity. But here was Paul the preserve EQ's the one in danger of his life. When the circumstances is the only one who actually emerges victorious all prisoner yes yes man was victorious because he stood there in his integrity, innocent, depending upon God whom he trusted this as well. As in all other circumstances say what I want to say is that it is in that way that you and I have to stand in the world. We don't live in a world where the accusations against us are quite this fierce, though there are places in the world. As I've indicated where these accusations are made.

And Christians do suffer physically but you and I are faced by world which has value system hostile to the standards of the Lord Jesus Christ and did which we are constantly pressured to compromise away or deny our faith, our you and I week human beings and sinful as well. Going to stand against such pressure. How are we going to stand when the world says Pokémon you have to go along to get along.

After all, you have to bend a little bit. Nobody who is rigid ever gets ahead to have to do things the way other people do. If you're going to survive. Compromise here shave the truth. There you don't have to tell the truth in business if you tell the truth why competitors get to get the edge on you and pretty soon you'll be broke, how are you and I going to stand for righteousness in a world like that, let me suggest three things. First of all, you have to know God is sovereign over circumstances that is is in charge and that of course gives you great power because it means that even if once you've taken a stand. Things don't go right from a human point of view, that's fine because God understood the circumstances from the beginning they were going to come and they are part of his plan for your life say that's what gave power to the three friends of Daniel, Shadrach me shack and Abednego when they stood against the most powerful monarch of the day and perhaps one of the most powerful monarchs that ever lived. King Nebuchadnezzar of the desert said everybody had to bow down and worship the golden statue which represented his reign, and they refused to do it. That was treason. It was a symbol of the unity and strength of the Empire, they wouldn't bow. They said there is a God, or the gods of this world, so he all the men is about to throw them into the burning fiery furnace. He was absolutely outraged. This king didn't even need due process of law. He wanted to get rid of them off they went to the furnace. They stood there utterly unafraid it was threatening them with password strength had to do with this. They said God wants to deliver us from your hand.

Well, God will deliver us from your hand God is able to do that is sovereign, but if not, God is sovereign. If he decides snapped.

It was well up if he decides to do it, but if not, they said that spiders well let it be known, we will not bow down to the sidle, which you could Nebuchadnezzar set up so the first thing you have to know you're going to stand against the world is that God is sovereign over circumstances and that includes even the most minute circumstances of your life. Secondly, you have to know the Bible scriptures. That's because the situations we face generally are not black and white you face a black and white situation. Generally, you know that you should do the right thing and not compromise but the situations that confront us out there in the world. Often what we call gray situations.

Morally speaking seems that you want to do this on the other hand, there is another side to it and it is the same radio you talk to your friends and become gray soon enough because everyone sees it from a different point of view and always conflicting perspectives and things that you should look into and the sand and that Hampden three points in all that I do you find your way through the greatness of this life is only one way scriptures scriptures and greater things that we may not understand the Scripture speak clearly and they are described in Scripture as being that light which shines upon our path by the head of us is dark because it's dark world so we need the light of the Scripture to show us how we should go you face a great difficulty and you don't know which way to turn.

You don't know what's right you read the word you ask God to illuminate the situation for you, even as he illuminates the word to your heart and God will lead you. He says he will will lead you in the way that you should go. Let's cycling the first thing is to know that God is sovereign over circumstances, which is exactly what Paul no secondly know the Scriptures which is something Paul also knew the third thing is this, you have to be willing if necessary to pay any price, that is, any price to remain the faithful disciple of Jesus Christ say any price. Yes, any price times in history when Christians are confronted with the choice bow down or die and so they have paid the greatest price of all they've died for their faith. History of the church was filled with the story of the martyrs. Many times it's not that, but that's things we value almost as highly reputation success banishment good opinion of our friends that type of thing we say why I acted as a Christian in that situation so and so I would never understand.

My boss would never understand. My wife would never understand my parents would never understand. And so we fail to do what's right because were not willing to pay that price were not ready to relinquish everything to follow Jesus so you can know that God is sovereign even though it is right because you study the Scriptures and you can still fail to do it because you value something else more than your obedience to Christ. Whenever I think about this. I think of that section of the blog archipelago in which the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn reflects on why as he observed it in the gulags, the notorious prison system of Russia, why it was that some prisoners seem to survive the interrogation stand and maintain their integrity and others collapsed under the interrogation and failed to stand lost their integrity assesses see reflects on it all has to do with the price and the willingness to plant that he said you know when you go into the prison you have to say to yourself, right at the threshold by cozy pastors behind me. My life is over, I am doomed to die sooner or later, and let the truth be told, is better to die sooner by family is of no use to be my possessions are of no use to be.

Even my body is alien to make nothing now matters to me, but my soul and then after having put it in such stark terms. He says at the end only the prisoner who has renounced everything will gain the victory you and I are servant slaves, prisoners of the will of Jesus Christ. The only way we're going to stand against the world in the final analysis is ever willing to give up everything to follow him say everything casts everything but why should you and I be surprised. Jesus gave up everything I said to his followers. If you would follow me. It was give up everything to because what I call you to do is to take up your cross a symbol of your death and follow me as a tragic attraction.

All that is that eventually overcomes the world, even our face to face of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray our father we live in such a paltry age or even those who are in positions of great leadership compromise right left betray the faith because we value things for position reputation more than we value the approval of our Lord. Father, we long for a time when your people are more like the apostle Paul by that kind of character and so we ask that you would make a beginning in us for the sake of Christ. Amen and amen.

You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce Lister supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.

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