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Audio Sermons

Acts 25:1-27

Serving with Love

I Appeal unto Caesar

Life B-P Church Worship @ 8 & 11am, 27th November 2016

Acts 25: 1 - 27

The big picture. From Acts chapters 24 to 26, God providentially protected Paul safely through the various riots and court hearings, allowing him to witness for Christ at Jerusalem, Caesarea, and subsequently at Rome. Paul appears before two Roman governors, Felix (ch.24) and Festus (ch.25), and king Herod Agrippa II of northern Galilee (ch.26). 

Introduction.  In chapter 24, we saw Felix, a corrupt governor of Judea who imprisoned Paul for two years, hoping to receive bribes.  History tells us that Felix mishandled a racial riot between Jews and Greeks: he sent the military to arrest the Jews and to confiscate their wealth.  Some Jews went to Rome to lodge a complaint against Felix.  As a result, Felix was sacked. Festus was sent as the new governor of Judea in AD 60.  Acts chapter 25 opens in this highly charged atmosphere of political and racial tension.  Festus now inherits this hot seat in his capital, Caesarea.  Festus is anxious to calm down the Jews and keep his job.  In his first meeting with the Jews (1-5), they requested for Paul to be tried in Jerusalem. But God providentially led Festus to wisely hold the court hearing in Caesarea. Paul appeared before Festus (7-12), and subsequently before King Agrippa (13-27).

Acts chapter 25 shows us that despite the Roman powers and Jewish authorities who appear to be powerfully directing events, ultimately God is in control of the outcome of human history, graciously protecting Paul, and accomplishing His will by bringing Paul to Rome as a witness for Christ.  We live in a fallen unjust world.  We will face persecution and injustice.  Believers’ response to those situations is our testimony as salt and light in this world.  The life of Apostle Paul under trial is a shining example. Today, we draw precious lessons about how we should respond in times of injustice and trials in our lives.

1.        See God’s Hand of Providential Protection (1-6)

a.       God protected Paul through a Roman governor Festus  (1-6).

b.      God protected Paul through a Roman centurion (Acts 23:12-24).

c.       God promised Paul he will witness in Rome (Acts 23:11)

Apply. God providentially directs our steps in our lives. See Prov 16:1 & 21:1. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water, He turneth it withersoever it will.” God is working, although we can’t see it.  The answer is on the way.  He is faithful; He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). As James Flavel says, “God makes the promise, and Providence the payment.” God will fulfill His covenant promises.

2.       Do All that You Legally Can (7-12)

a.       Festus shirked his legal responsibility (7, 9). 

b.      Paul asserted his legal rights as a Roman citizen (8-12)

·         Paul appealed to Caesar. Every Roman citizen had a right of protection against injustice - provocatio ad Caesarem (in Latin) or “appeal to the emperor”.

·         Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25).

3.       Look Beyond the Fantasy Power to the Real Power (23-27)

a.       Pomp is a fantasy power (23). Paul was not intimidated by the fantasy show of power of Agrippa, Bernice and the military.  He trusts in the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16).

b.      Real Power comes from the Almighty God. Paul declares that God’s grace is sufficient for him: 2 Cor 12:9-10 “…that the power of Christ may rest on me … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Conclusion.

Although it might appear that Paul was an unfortunate victim of a political web of self-interested maneuvers by the Roman governors and Jewish leaders, God is ultimately in charge, protecting Paul from danger, leading him to witness for Christ in Rome.   Likewise, God will work out His will in our lives if we would trust and obey Him. When we face injustice, let us see God’s good hand of providence, exercise our human responsibility under the law to do all that we can, and look beyond the appearance, to the real power of Almighty God bringing all things to pass for His glory.

 

 

Questions.

1.   Take a moment today to look through your life. Can you see God’s hand of providence in every decision you made? Take time to thank God for His gracious protection and provision.

2. How do we respond to situations of injustice?  How can Paul’s experience help you turn to God, trust Him and rest in His good will?

 

3. As a Singapore citizen, we may have many rights and privileges, eg. freedom of witness. Are you using them to serve God? 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11