Sunday, July 19, 2015

Today´s Sermon

2015.07.19                                          Acts 24
                         Paul before Felix
As we have been studying the birth of the church in the book of Acts…. We have seen the explosion of the Good News of the Gospel…. Many have found grace and mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus…. We have also seen persecution and hard times for the followers of Jesus…
In the last few chapters… We have witnessed the very difficult circumstances that Paul has found himself in…. Paul had just been through three riots…..   They were all caused by the hatred of the unbelieving Jews….  Paul was delivered from death by the Romans three times in less than 2 days… . Now after being rescued by the Romans…  He sits in the former Palace of Herod in Caesarea…. Although they have been trying to kill him… Paul isn´t worried…   He knows that the Lord has given him more time… The Lord himself called him to fight the good fight of Faith… One day He will lay down his life for the Lord…. But not yet…. that comes later…. As we pick up the text…. Paul is in Caesarea…
Acts 24: 1-4                                       NKJV
1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.
Acts 24: 1-4                            slt 2000
1 Nach fünf Tagen aber kam der Hohepriester Ananias mit den Ältesten und einem Anwalt, einem gewissen Tertullus, herab; und sie erschienen vor dem Statthalter gegen Paulus.
2 Als dieser aber gerufen worden war, begann Tertullus mit der Anklagerede und sprach:
3 Daß wir viel Frieden durch dich genießen und daß diesem Volk durch deine Fürsorge heilsame Zustände geschaffen worden sind, das erkennen wir allezeit und überall an, hochedler Felix, mit aller Dankbarkeit!
4 Damit ich dich aber nicht allzusehr bemühe, bitte ich dich, uns in Kürze nach deiner Freundlichkeit anzuhören.
Paul is now before Felix…  By the way…. Felix began life as a slave…. His brother Pallas was a friend of the emperor Claudius…. through his influence…. Felix was set free and rose in status as a free man….. He  became the first slave in history to become a governor of a Roman province…… But it seems that his slave mentality stayed with him…. Tacitus, the Roman historian, described Felix as a master of cruelty and lust…. He had the power of a king… But not one drop of wisdom…  
Felix's public and private life was not a pretty one.... He was drunk with power and did whatever evil appealed to him… The appearance of Ananias and the elders at the court of Felix reminds us of how serious the Jewish leaders were in their desire to kill Paul…..
v2… Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight… This was nothing but bologna… Nothing but lying flattery…. Felix was wicked and godless…. He had put down several rebellions with such brutality that he despised by the Jewish population….
Acts 24: 5,6        NKJV
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.
Acts 24: 5,6                          slt 2000
5 Wir haben nämlich diesen Mann als eine Pest befunden, als einen, der Aufruhr stiftet unter allen Juden in der ganzen Welt, als einen Anführer der Sekte der Nazarener1.
6 Er versuchte sogar, den Tempel zu entheiligen; doch wir ergriffen ihn und wollten ihn nach unserem Gesetz richten.
The charges against Paul were essentially that he was politically dangerous…. a plague … a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes…. They said that Paul had defiled the temple by bringing a Gentile into the inner courts of the Temple… 
One of the many Titles for the Messiah is…. The Messiah the branch…. That title is used 4 times in the O.T…. Let´s look at one of them… turn to  Zechariah 6:12, 13…..
Zechariah 6: 12,13            KJV slt 2000
12"Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the Man Whose name is THE BRANCH*; and He shall grow up out of His place, 13 and He shall build the Temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."
12 Und du sollst zu ihm reden und sagen: So spricht der Herr der Heerscharen: Siehe, ein Mann, dessen Name »Sproß«5 ist, denn er wird aus seinem Ort hervorsprossen und den Tempel des Herrn bauen.
13 Ja, er ist’s, der den Tempel des Herrn bauen wird, und er wird Herrlichkeit [als Schmuck] tragen und auf seinem Thron sitzen und herrschen, und er wird Priester sein auf seinem Thron, und der Rat des Friedens wird zwischen beiden bestehen.
We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem… but he grew up in Nazareth….  He was often called the Nazarene…
Nazareth had a bad reputation as a city (John 1:46)…. It was a wild and lawless area on the trading routes…
Tertullus gives an unintended compliment to Paul's ministry….. He describes his influence as being very great…
The only real charge against Paul is that he defiled the temple by bringing a gentile into the inner courts.…  but no saw this because it didn´t happen….. This charge was only based on rumors…. If you want to you can reread Acts 21:26-29…. Paul did not defile the Temple…. Let´s read the next section… Acts 24… V7…
Acts 24: 7-9                          NKJV   
7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.
 Acts 24:7-9                            slt 2000
7 Aber Lysias, der Befehlshaber, kam dazu und entriß ihn mit großer Gewalt unseren Händen;
8 und er befahl, daß seine Ankläger zu dir kommen sollten. Von ihm kannst du selbst, wenn du ihn verhörst, alles erfahren, dessen wir ihn anklagen!
9 Und auch die Juden stimmten dem zu und behaupteten, es verhielte sich so.
The Roman commander Lysias  rescued Paul….. But now he is put in a bad light…. That bad man took Paul away from us…
Certainly the Jews are sorry that the case has come this far….. They would have preferred to settle it with mob justice……
Acts 24: 10-13                             NKJV
10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.
Acts 24: 10-13                           slt 2000
10 Paulus aber gab, nachdem ihn der Statthalter durch ein Zeichen zum Reden aufgefordert hatte, folgende Antwort: Da ich weiß, daß du seit vielen Jahren Richter über dieses Volk bist, so verteidige ich meine Sache desto zuversichtlicher,
11 weil du erfahren kannst, daß es nicht länger als zwölf Tage her ist, seit ich hinaufzog, um in Jerusalem anzubeten.
12 Und sie fanden mich weder im Tempel, daß ich mich mit jemand gestritten oder einen Volksauflauf erregt hätte, noch in den Synagogen, noch in der Stadt.
13 Sie können auch das nicht beweisen, dessen sie mich jetzt anklagen.
v10… I do the more cheerfully answer for myself… Paul is happy to answer for himself…. He knows that the facts  are in his favor….  
v13… Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me… It has only been twelve days….. How could I have caused this trouble in just a few days… Where are the witnesses…  Paul's accusers provide no witnesses to demonstrate that he was in the temple disputing or inciting the crowd….. There is simply no proof for their accusations….
Acts 24: 14-21                       NKJV
14 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. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead,[c] both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, 18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. 19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. 20 Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing[d] in me while I stood before the council, 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.’”

Acts 24: 14-21                       slt 2000
14 Das bekenne ich dir aber, daß ich nach dem Weg, den sie eine Sekte nennen, dem Gott der Väter auf diese Weise diene, daß ich an alles glaube, was im Gesetz und in den Propheten geschrieben steht;
15 und ich habe die Hoffnung zu Gott, auf die auch sie selbst warten, daß es eine künftige Auferstehung der Toten geben wird, sowohl der Gerechten als auch der Ungerechten.
16 Daher übe ich mich darin, allezeit ein unverletztes Gewissen zu haben gegenüber Gott und den Menschen.
17 Ich bin aber nach vielen Jahren gekommen, um Almosen für mein Volk und Opfer zu bringen.
18 Dabei fanden mich etliche Juden aus [der Provinz] Asia im Tempel, als ich gereinigt war, ohne daß ein Volksauflauf oder Tumult entstanden wäre;
19 die sollten vor dir erscheinen und Anklage erheben, wenn sie etwas gegen mich hätten.
20 Oder diese selbst sollen sagen, ob sie irgendein Unrecht an mir gefunden haben, als ich vor dem Hohen Rat stand;
21 außer um jenes einzigen Wortes willen, das ich ausrief, als ich unter ihnen stand: Wegen der Auferstehung der Toten werde ich heute von euch gerichtet!
Paul makes it clear that he has not abandoned the Law and the Prophets…. he is acting in fulfillment of them both….. He worships and honors the one true GOD…
The resurrection of the dead (specifically, the resurrection of Jesus)… Was  accepted by many Jews….. The Sadducees however denied the resurrection and were the main people behind this attempt to kill Paul…
v15… Both of the just and the unjust… Paul clearly believed in the resurrection for both the righteous and the unrighteous….. We shall all stand before God and answer for our lives….
v19… They ought to have been here before you to object… Again Paul reminds Felix that there is no eyewitness testimony to prove any of the charges….  Where are they?...
Christians should never be afraid or ashamed of the truth…  Since we are following The LORD JESUS…  Grace and Truth are our friends…  v22,23…
Acts 24: 22,23                            NKJV slt 2000
22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” 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.
22 Als Felix dies hörte, verwies er sie auf eine spätere Zeit, da er über den Weg recht genau Bescheid wußte, und sprach: Wenn Lysias, der Befehlshaber, herabkommt, will ich eure Sache untersuchen!
23 Und er befahl dem Hauptmann, Paulus in Gewahrsam zu halten und ihm Erleichterung zu gewähren und auch keinem der Seinen zu verbieten, ihm Dienste zu leisten oder zu ihm zu kommen.
v22… When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case… Felix avoided making a decision…. He is waiting for more evidence from the Roman commander Lysias...  
v23… Let him have liberty… Felix grants Paul generous liberty even while he is held in custody……
Felix knew Paul was innocent…. But he did not want to identify himself with Paul and the Christians….. So he kept Paul in custody…..
Acts 24: 24,25                           NKJV  slt 2000
24 And 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. 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.”
24 Nach etlichen Tagen aber kam Felix mit seiner Frau Drusilla, die eine Jüdin war, und ließ den Paulus holen und hörte ihn über den Glauben an Christus.
25 Als er aber von Gerechtigkeit und Enthaltsamkeit und dem zukünftigen Gericht redete, wurde Felix von Furcht erfüllt, und er antwortete: Für diesmal kannst du gehen; wenn ich aber gelegene Zeit finde, will ich dich wieder rufen lassen!
v24… Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish….he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ… Felix wanted his wife to hear Paul's testimony…. either as a curiosity or so that she could advise him…..
Drusilla was a sister to Herod Agrippa II and Bernice mentioned in Acts 25….. Drusilla was reported to be a great beauty…. Felix seduced her away from her husband…. He persuaded her to become his third wife….. She was 16…
I would like us to witness this scene from the viewpoint of the Love of GOD for sinners….. Felix and Drusilla  had no idea of the importance of these visits with Paul… Felix was a bad man…. But he was not beyond the grace of God…. The same is true for Drusilla…. She was only 16…. Remember she is Jewish and related to the house of Herod… She is very acquainted with the law and the Prophets… These meetings with Paul as he proclaimed the Good news of the Gospel were a Divine opportunity for her to really see herself… Perhaps they were her very last opportunity to repent and turn from her sins….. You see…. She will have a son and name him Herod….. not too many years later Drusilla and her son… Herod the 12th… Not really… will go to a famous resort for the rich and famous…. It was on the coast  southeast of Rome… It was called Pompeii…. They will both perish in the volcanic eruption there… Paul presented the Gospel to them… Let´s look at what Paul told them… v25a…
v25a… He reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come… Paul spoke to Felix and Drusilla about the righteousness that is found only in our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ…. He also reminded them about our eternal accountability before God (the judgment to come)
Look at Paul's bold preaching….. He directly addressed the sin in Felix's life…. Turn to Proverbs 28… v1….
Proverbs 28: 1    KJV   slt 2000
1 The wicked flee when no man pursues But the righteous are as bold as a lion.
1 Der Gottlose flieht, auch wenn niemand ihn jagt, aber die Gerechten sind furchtlos wie ein junger Löwe.
Felix was drunk with power and out of control….. Paul pointed directly at his sin…. He was violent and had destroyed Drusilla´s life…. Paul says….. You will not get away with this….. You will die… you will face God….
v25b… Felix was afraid…. Hearing the gospel made Felix afraid… That is the correct response considering  his life….  The gospel should make those who refuse to repent afraid…. 
v25c… Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you… Felix was unwilling to reject Jesus directly….  Instead, he rejected Jesus under the pretense of delaying his decision….
Many respond to the gospel in this way…. they express their rejection through delay….. They procrastinate making their decision to commit to Jesus Christ….  We are warned not to put off repenting and crying out to the Lord for forgiveness…. Turn to 2 Cor 6…v2…
2 Corinthians 6:2                NKJV   slt 2000
2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Denn es heißt: »Zur angenehmen Zeit habe ich dich erhört und am Tag des Heils dir geholfen«.1 Siehe, jetzt ist die angenehme Zeit; siehe, jetzt ist der Tag des Heils!
How foolish to wait for a convenient time to repent! There will never be a convenient time….. Tomorrow is promised to no one…. Are you waiting for a convenient time to follow God? The claims of Jesus are never convenient for us…. There is no convenient time….  
Acts 24: 26,27                   NKJV  slt 2000
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.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.
26 Zugleich hoffte er aber auch, daß er von Paulus Geld erhalten würde, damit er ihn freiließe. Darum ließ er ihn auch öfters kommen und besprach sich mit ihm.
27 Als aber zwei Jahre verflossen waren, bekam Felix den Porcius Festus zum Nachfolger, und da sich Felix die Juden zu Dank verpflichten wollte, ließ er Paulus gebunden zurück.
v26… He also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him… Although Felix met often with Paul….. it was not honest…. He hoped to be paid off with a bribe….
v27… After two years…. Under Roman law….. the type of custody Paul was in was could only last two years….. Felix showed a blatant disregard for this by keeping Paul for such an extended period……
Felix … left Paul bound: Felix refused to release Paul….. Even though he knew that Paul was  innocent…. Just like Pilate a few years before….  Pilate also condemned Jesus even though he knew that Jesus was innocent….. They both acted out of pure political expediency (wanting to do the Jews a favor)…...
In a way, people like Felix and Pilate are the most guilty of those who reject Jesus Christ….. They know what is right but refuse to do right….  Paul spends 2 years here in Caesarea… in Herod´s palace… By the way…. Pilate also lived here in Herods Palace when he ruled Judea…
Herod’s Palace Where once Pilate Lived and Paul was Imprisoned
Herod chose to build his lavish palace in Caesarea on a natural promontory that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.
Herod had a freshwater swimming pool carved out of the natural bedrock at the end of his palace; the sprawling pool was almost Olympic in size.
It is still possible to see where Herod’s pool once was…. We can easily imagine the luxury of Herod’s palace…. the Jewish historian Josephus called it “the most magnificent Palace of the time…
After the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Caesarea became the Roman seat of power in Israel for 500 years….. Many Roman governors and rulers lived in Herod’s palace in Caesarea…..
I want us to speak for a few minutes about Paul´s courage and character….
I believe that the days that he spent in the custody of the Romans were great days for his ministry…. You say…. What? He was in prison… a fancy prison… but prison…. Listen…. He proclaimed the Gospel to everyone who would listen…. Both great and small…. He wrote some of his most important letters during these days…
He continued to encourage and teach at every opportunity even from prison…. As we study these chapters…. Paul is under armed guard and on his way to Rome…. He will never be set free….. And yet…. It was during these times that Paul wrote many of his letters to the churches…. He was filled with a deep abiding trust and joy in the Lord…
Many years ago… Billy Sunday said…. If there is no joy in your religion, there´s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.  
I would like to close by looking at his letter to the Philippians…. Turn with me to Philippians 1..v3-11….
Philippians  1: 3-11                                NLT   
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Philippians  1: 3-10         Neues Leben 
3 Jedes Mal, wenn ich an euch denke, danke ich meinem Gott.
4 Ich bete immer für euch und tue es mit frohem Herzen.
5 Denn ihr habt euch vom ersten Tag an bis heute gemeinsam mit mir für die gute Botschaft eingesetzt.
6 Ich bin ganz sicher, dass Gott, der sein gutes Werk in euch angefangen hat, damit weitermachen und es vollenden wird bis zu dem Tag, an dem Christus Jesus wiederkommt.
7 Es ist nur natürlich, wenn ich so empfinde, denn ihr liegt mir sehr am Herzen. Gemeinsam empfangen wir die Gnade Gottes, ob ich nun im Gefängnis bin oder die Botschaft Gottes verteidige und bekräftige.
8 Gott weiß, wie sehr ich mich mit der herzlichen Liebe von Christus Jesus nach euch sehne.
9 Ich bete darum, dass eure Liebe zueinander noch tiefer wird und dass sie an Erkenntnis und Einsicht zunimmt.
10 Denn ihr sollt im Stande sein zu erkennen, worauf es ankommt, damit ihr rein und vorbildlich vor Christus steht, wenn er wiederkommt,
11 erfüllt mit dem Guten, das der Glaube in euch wirkt, denn auf diese Weise wird Gott geehrt.  
Paul was determined to finish his race with joy…. And he did!
My dear friends….. I know that many of us struggle with sin and disasters in our lives…. Paul was filled with joy and peace because he knew that he was never alone….. He knew the end of the story…. Even in the deep dark times we are never alone…. He has said…. I will never leave you… I will never forsake you…..  Let´s pray…

No comments:

Post a Comment