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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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Pastor's Pen - November 22, 2007
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November 22, 2007

Acts 24-26
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Acts
Chapter 24
  1. And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
  2. And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
  3. We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
  4. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
  5. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
  6. Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
  7. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
  8. Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
  9. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
  10. Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
  11. Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
  12. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
  13. Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
  14. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
  15. And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
  16. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
  17. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
  18. Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
  19. Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
  20. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,
  21. Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
  22. And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
  23. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
  24. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
  25. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
  26. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
  27. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.


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Acts
Chapter 25
  1. Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
  2. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
  3. And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
  4. But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
  5. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
  6. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
  7. And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
  8. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
  9. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
  10. Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
  11. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
  12. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
  13. And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
  14. And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:
  15. About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
  16. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
  17. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
  18. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
  19. But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
  20. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
  21. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.
  22. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
  23. And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.
  24. And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
  25. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
  26. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
  27. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.


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Acts
Chapter 26
  1. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
  2. I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
  3. Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
  4. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
  5. Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
  6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
  7. Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
  8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
  9. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
  10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
  11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
  12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
  13. At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
  14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
  15. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
  16. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
  17. Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
  18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
  19. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
  20. But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
  21. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
  22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
  23. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
  24. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
  25. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
  26. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
  27. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
  28. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
  29. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
  30. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
  31. And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
  32. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.


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Thought for the day:
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 The verses of Acts 24 show us another example of the boldness of the Apostle Paul. He had been taken captive in Jerusalem because of the message of salvation that he preached. He was finally brought before the governor, Felix, and accused of being a rabble-rouser who had set out to profane the Temple. Once the accusations were made, Paul was given an opportunity to speak. He opened by stating that he was not guilty of any of the charges brought against him. He denied attempting to rally people against the government or against the Temple. In fact, he said that there was absolutely no proof of the allegations that had been made against him. At this point, I believe that Paul probably had his case won. After all, under normal circumstances, if you deny the indictments against you and the accusers can furnish no proof of your guilt, then you will be released. However, Paul was not content simply to be released. After showing his innocence, he continues to speak, and uses the opportunity to reveal that he has a different belief-system than the Jews who opposed him.

 Interestingly, he admits to being a heretic in the minds of his accusers. Most men would not want to have that label if they were trying to stay out of prison. But Paul used it for an opportunity to witness. He showed that, even though he was branded as a heretic, he worshiped the God that all Jews had claimed to worship down through the centuries. He stated that he believed the entire Old Testament, both the laws and the prophecies. He then revealed the real issue: his belief in the resurrection. Once again we see that if Paul had stopped talking as soon as he had stated his belief in the Old Testament he probably would have been set free. However, Paul wanted people to hear the truth; even those who had control over his freedom and his life. He was not willing to liberate himself without giving Felix a chance to repent. Therefore, he had to bring up the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for it was the resurrection that proved Who Jesus was and validated both His message and His Messiahship.

 Because of this, Felix did not allow Paul to be released. However, he did allow Paul to receive visitors, and treated him in a respectful manner. Then, a few days later when his wife Drusilla (who was Jewish) arrived, he sent for Paul and allowed him to come and share the message of the Scriptures with them. At this point Paul took the opportunity to spell out the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. He reasoned with Felix on subjects such as the righteousness of God as compared to the unrighteousness of men, and warned him of the impending judgment of God upon all ungodliness. His words bothered Felix to such an extent that the Bible informs us that he trembled. Unfortunately, he refused to respond and repent. He sent Paul away, and told him that he would speak to him on a later date when it was "convenient". There is no Biblical record that this "convenient season" ever occurred.

 A similar situation took place between Paul and the Jewish King Agrippa in Acts 26. Paul gave his testimony and then showed how the Old Testament law and prophecies pointed exclusively to Jesus Christ as being the Messiah and Savior. The governor Festus accused him of madness, but Paul continued to preach directly to Agrippa. Having already stated that he believed the prophets, he asked Agrippa if he did as well, and then answered the question himself by stating that he knew that Agrippa believed. Agrippa, being a Jew, undoubtedly believed certain portions of the Scriptures. However, he was unwilling to repent and receive Christ, so he uttered the famous line,

"Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
Many people have attacked this verse by claiming that Agrippa's intent was to belittle Paul's attempt to convert him. However, Paul's response that he wished,
"not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am"
indicates that Agrippa was indeed close to salvation, but he, too, left the room that day in an unsaved condition.

 Here are the lessons that need to be learned. First, if you are a Christian, be a bold witness for Christ, even when it might cost you something. Second, if you are not born again, remember Felix and Agrippa. "Almost saved" isn't saved, and a more convenient season will probably never come. Receive Christ today.

Pastor Mark J Montgomery

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