Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Have Faith and Courage To Share Your Faith

Acts 23

6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)

Paul finally appears before his accusers in the Sanhedrin, with an angry mob waiting in the wings. When the high priest calls to have him struck on the mouth, Paul strikes back at him not knowing he was the high priest. When he finds out he is the high priest, he apologizes citing the law in Exodus, "to respect your leaders". You can see Paul still has respect for the Law given by Moses.

Then, Paul uses another strategy to get himself out of harm's way. Paul brings up the topic of the resurrection of the dead. He asserts that his preaching is only applying a concept that the Pharisees already believed in. The Pharisees took the scripture literally when the Old Testament foretold of Jesus' resurrection through the prophets and psalms. See what David says in Psalm 16 and Peter's interpretation in his first sermon in Acts 2:24-32.

But the Sadducees were more like the modern day liberals, who didn't believe in anything supernatural, including the resurrection. This was a subject of contention between the two groups and the assembly divided accordingly. This obviously worked to Paul's advantage with his background of being a Pharisee trained under the greatest teacher of the day, Gamaliel. Again today we see God's hand on Paul throughout the whole chapter. God speaks to him and says, "Take courage as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, you will testify about me in Rome". Throughout the rest of the chapter, we see again how Paul's citizenship helps him receive protection from the Roman Commander, who realizes a Roman citizen cannot be tried without a fair trial. He doesn't understand the nature of the Jews' problem with Paul, so he secretly ships him off with a big contingent of soldiers to Caesarea, to Governor Felix.

Paul had so much courage to testify about Jesus, because he knew God would protect him. Sometimes we fear sharing our faith because of the retribution we might receive. Nobody faced this more than Paul, but his love for Jesus and what He had done for him made him fearless and relentless in his preaching of the Good News that saved him from his sin. Where might God use you to testify about your faith in Jesus? Have faith and courage, God will be with you as He was with his servant Paul.

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