A Pesky Little Fellow

A Pesky Fellow

Acts 24:1-23

Paul is tried before the procurator Felix, a representative of Rome, but it was the Jews who were prosecuting him. The crowd was part Roman and part Jewish. The charges are political as well as religious.

Ananias the high priest responds to a summons to go down to Caeserea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, to bring their charges against Paul before the governor.

Tertullus presents his case before Felix with an endeavor to capture the judge’s good will- complimenting to the point of nauseating flattery. (v.2-4)

Tertullus calls Paul a “pestilent fellow, a perfect pest”, stirring up riots, expressing political overtones; a Nazarene ringleader, accusing him of a religious sect; and of desecrating the temple, a particularly damaging and dangerous accusation because the Romans had given the Jews wide powers in dealing with offenses against their temple.

Paul launches into his defense.

Here was Paul’s confession of faith (v.14), “I confess”. It consisted for four affirmations:

1. I worship the God of our fathers- we worship the same God

2. I believe everything written in the law and prophets- believed the same truths

3.  I have the same hope of God as these men- shared the same hope

4. I strive always as much as they to keep a clear conscious- cherished the same ambition

Paul purpose was not to make a personal declaration, but to insist that he shared it with the people of God. He was not an innovator, but loyal to the ancestral faith, nor was he a heretical deviant but stood squarely in the mainstream Judaism. His worship, faith, hope and goal were no different than theirs.

“The Way” enjoyed direct continuity with the OT, for the Scriptures bore witness to Jesus Christ as the one in whom God’s promises had been fulfilled.

What does this mean to you?

1. The OT is still God’s Word and relevant for today’s world.

Paul proclaims that the same God of the “law and the prophets” is the same God he preached about.

Jesus expounded on the OT, preaching passages and explaining them to the crowds in their original intent and purpose because the people made them a means of legalism instead of a loving God who was watching over His people with care and concern.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul tells Timothy “all Scripture”, which at the time was only the law and the prophets

It’s a shame that we have to tell people this now-a-days, but there is so much heretical preaching out there about “unhitching” from the OT

The Old Testament is profitable for Christians today.

We cannot fully understand the New Testament apart from knowing the Old Testament.

The Old Testament drips with symbolism and realities of Christ. Jesus is present from the very first chapter of the Bible.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is no such thing as a “God of the Old Testament” that is different from the “God of the New Testament.”

The Old Testament was written that we might have hope.

Paul says that

“whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

–Prophecy. Over 25% of the Bible is prophetic in nature! That 25% of God’s word is profitable for us. When we read prophecies in the Old Testament that have already been fulfilled (i.e., prophecies fulfilled during the 70 year captivity, or fulfilled at Jesus’ first coming, etc.), our faith and confidence grows that ALL the promises of God are yes! He will fulfill every single one, and so we read prophecy and rest in His sovereignty over the future

–The Law. Have you ever gotten bogged down in Leviticus? I know I do! But the glory of these books is Christ Jesus fulfilled all the righteous requirements. That burden is no longer ours to bear.

Galatians 3:24 says that the Law is our schoolmaster, our teacher, to bring us to Christ, in order that we may be justified by faith. So we read the hard, long books of the Old Testament, rejoicing that Jesus satisfied the requirements of the Law.

2. Is your defense about you? Or the gospel?

In most things we are not to defend ourselves. A person that has been truly humbled does not care when others falsely accuse them.

Romans 12:17-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have[a] regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We see Jesus before His accusers and He uttered not a word. False accusations, lies and slander are not worthy of a response. God will handle it.

First of all, Jesus was confident of who He was, but His mission that day was to die on the cross. Paul’s mission was to share the gospel, no matter the cost. His defense was not because he wanted to spare his life or his good name, but rather that he saw it as an opportunity to share the gospel. God put him in high places to share the gospel with the rulers and the leaders as well as the common folk.

Paul had a keen understanding of his mission- it was not about him. His life was forfeit for Jesus.

3. If your defense is about the gospel, do not worry

Jesus prophesied to His disciples that they would not have to rehearse what they would say, but that the HS would give them the words to speak in those moments. WE see His words come true in this narrative.

Matthew 10:17-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

We see this Scripture clearly in the clever answer in which Paul gave the court. This answer was from the Lord.

Is your defense about the gospel? Or you? You better answer honestly. I know a lot of people who get in an uproar defending their actions and words, claiming it’s about the Jesus or church; but in reality its about them. Their pride has been wounded and their ego has been offended. We are good at attacking others in self righteousness when there are glaring faults in our self.

Are you in such a close relationship with the Lord that the Holy Spirit can easily speak be heard by you? If you are consumed with yourself, you will not hear clearly from the Lord.

Paul was concerned with building the Lord’s church and that Christ’s Word and His mission goes forth, not Paul’s mission.

BE careful that you are not a hindrance to the work of God. You may claim its against a man, they claimed it was against Paul- but it was really in opposition to God.

4. Do not fear man

Matthew 10:26-28 New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that that will not be made known.

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in [a]hell.

“The fear of man brings a snare” Proverbs 29:25

Paul, the same as Jesus, was not hated because of his “good works”, but for his words of truth.

You cannot remain “neutral” because you want everyone to like you or because the world is screaming at you, “that’s not loving”.

You cannot tolerate evil because you fear the reprisal of man. God condemns those who “tolerate”  falsehood for the sake of “unity” and friendship. The Church in Thyatra was rebuked for tolerating Jezebel’s docrtine of sexual immorality and idolatry.

EX: I knew a lady who told me her best friend was an unbelieving man. First of all, she was married and second her best friend should not have been a nonbeliever. The last I hear of her, she was completely in false doctrine. Bad company corrupts good morals has rang true in many a lives I have witnessed.

I have had people tell me you cannot preach about hell, it scares people away. Jesus did, Paul did, the apostle John did. There is a judgment day whether or not you like it or want to believe it. There are people that will not make heaven, whether or not you like it- but you will be held responsible to God for whether or not you told people the truth, or continued to let them believe the lie.

Dave Wilkerson was told not to preach about sin, he did anyway and his fruit endures

Charles Finney’s revivals- he would preach to a lukewarm church words you’ll never hear from a popular preacher. His revival’s bore fruit of his ministry

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor [b]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

The truth is today’s Christian lack courage and then side with the heathen and turn on the truth teller. And it’s under the guise of “I am just called to love”. Paul’s own converts turned ridiculed him for his harsh words. Was Paul not loving? Was Peter not loving when he stood up on the day of Pentecost and proclaimed, “You crucified the Messiah!” Peter found courage after denying the Lord three times

Philippians 1:27-28 New King James Version (NKJV)

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but [a]to you of salvation, and that from God.

Paul was being judged they said on his actions, but it was really his motives- “he was a perfect pest”, “he defiled the temple”, “He was a heretic” this is unrighteous judgment.

You are allowed to judge another’s fruit- you can judge my parenting by the fruit of my children

You can judge a pastor by his congregation- is it loving, kind, generous, and living in righteousness?

But you are not allowed to judged the motive’s of one’s heart and the means by which he carries it out

DO you lack the courage to tell the truth? Can you tell a family member they are in sin? Are you willing to lose friends for the sake of the gospel?

Ex: I lost one of my best friends because she was flirting with a man who was not her husband and I told her she was in sin and headed down a path of destruction. None of her other Christian friends would tell her.

Would you be able to stand in court as Paul and tell the truth without crumbling?

5.What is your confession of faith? And are you sharing it?

Paul said, “I believe these things”…. He didn’t dispute about the intricacies of the law or of washings, or of clean and unclean food. He simply stated his confession of faith.

I do not argue with people anymore about the things of God.  It’s fruitless. I believe in tithing, but if you do not want to tithe- I won’t argue with you. I believe a wife should submit to her husband, but if you don’t want to submit, I will not argue with you.

Rebellious people will find anything to argue about, and the people who argue the most with me call themselves a CHRISTIAN. Why would you attack a brother in Christ for having a different ministry than you? I am called as a prophet and a teacher. We will all give an account.

But here’s one thing that no one can argue with me- my testimony and confession of faith.  “I once was blind, but now I see”. Jesus saved my life and the life I know live, I live for Him. I believe the Bible is the whole counsel and Word of God. I believe Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

No one can argue your confession of faith and how the Lord saved and healed you. They might call you crazy and brain-washed, but they cannot argue what Christ has done in you.

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