Summary: The world can put up with many church members with no problem at all. If you don’t make waves with your faith the world will tolerate you. You can go to church once in a while. That doesn’t bother anybody. But ...
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
A. There is a familiar passage of scripture that I want us to consider this morning. It is found in 1 Corinthians 1:25. "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, & the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength."
ILL. A classic example of that is David & Goliath in the OT. Here was a shepherd boy who trusted in God, fighting a mighty warrior, & yet the boy wins.
It is almost the same way in Acts, chapters 24, 25 & 26. Let me tell you what is taking place. The Apostle Paul has been a prisoner now for two years.
Two years ago in Jerusalem, a mob had tried to kill Paul, but Roman soldiers arrived in the nick of time. They arrested him & took him away to save his life. But the chief priests plotted together & petitioned the Roman Governor, Felix, to put Paul on trial for his life.
They lied about Paul & said, "We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect & even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him." (Acts 24:5)
But Gov. Felix allowed Paul to speak in his own behalf. And when Paul was through, Acts 24:22-23 tells us, "Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. ’When Lysias the commander comes,’ he said, ’I will decide your case.’ He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs."
By the way, there is a familiar passage of scripture that involves this Gov. Felix. Listen as we begin with the 24th vs. "Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul & listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified & said, ’That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’" But the more convenient time for Felix never came.
B. Now notice vs. 27, "When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison."
Then Festus takes over as Governor, & immediately Paul’s enemies plot again. Acts 25:3 says, "They urgently requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way."
So Gov. Festus sends for Paul, & vs. 9 says, "Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ’Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem & stand trial before me there on these charges?’"
Paul answered, "I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!"
Vs. 12 tells us, "After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: ’You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!’"
C. But the problem is that Festus doesn’t know for what crime to charge him. There is no legal reason why Paul was even a prisoner. So he is in a quandary, trying to decide what to do.
As he deliberates, King Agrippa comes down to welcome the new Governor. Now Agrippa is a Jew, ruling over the northern part of Israel. He meets Festus & in their conversation, Festus mentions his problem concerning Paul.
Festus tells Agrippa, "When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests & elders of the Jews brought charges against him & asked that he be condemned. I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over any man before he has faced his accusers & has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges."
"When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day & ordered the man to be brought in. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion & about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive."
"I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem & stand trial there on these charges. When Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."