Sunday, February 24, 2013

From Acts to Revelation Part 65 – The Sanhedrin



From Acts to Revelation
Part 65  – The Sanhedrin
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Last week we looked at how Paul addresses the Jews in the Temple, while surrounded by armed guards, protected from their fury.

They actually listened intently to Paul as he spoke to the in Aramaic.

However, they became angry once again when he said God had sent him to the Gentiles.

The Roman guards had to remove Paul from the scene, and the Captain of the guard ordered him scourged.

Paul informs them he is a Roman Citizen, and that it is unlawful to arrest a citizen without a trial.

The Captain un-binds Paul, but keeps him overnight to take him before the Sanhedrin in an attempt to discover why the Jews hate him so, and why there is such an uproar wherever he goes.

Today, we will see Paul stand before the Sanhedrin, and testify his faith once again, and how we will often be persecuted for breaking God's laws, by law-breakers, and how their fear of Truth can cause them to lash-out at us.

However, the Lord has a message for Paul, as well as us.












SCRIPTURE REFERENCE
Acts 23:1-11
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
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.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection,and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”


I.       JUDGED BY MAN
a.      Paul stood before the Sanhedrin (the religious rulers of the Jews), and testified that he had fulfilled his duty to God in good conscience.
i.       From the sounds of it, all 71 members were present, with Ananias serving as its President.

ii.    Meaning, although he was not perfect, and made mistakes, he had always confessed and repented, and therefore was forgiving. Also, every choice he had made was for serving God.

iii. Remember, not too long before this, Paul was seeking out followers of Christ, and having them imprisoned and put to death...yet, his conscience is still clear, because at that time, although he was wrong in his actions, his heart intent was to serve God fully...even though he was doing so in ignorance.

iv.   Sometimes we make mistakes, terrible ones, but we can have consciences that are clear if we simply confess, and repent.

v.      Whatever Paul was doing, he had thought it was right at the time, whether true or not.


b.     Paul's statement brought out anger in the High Priest, and he ordered Paul be struck in the mouth.
i.       We can attract the striking out of others simply by being faithful.

ii.    Most strike out because of fear.

iii. Ananias the High Priest hated Paul, being that he was a Zealot. History records that he was appointed 9 years before-hand through political influence, and he ruled like a tyrant in Jerusalem. The Zealots later assassinated Ananias in 66 AD for his pro-Roman sympathies.

iv.   Though scripture does not reveal the reason the high Priest had Paul struck, there was much fear in the Sanhedrin when it came to issues of Christ.
a.      If Christ is real, the Messiah DID come as God said, and the Sanhedrin missed Him.

b.     If Christ is real, the Messiah DID come as God said, and the Sanhedrin took part in His crucifixion.

c.      If Christ is real, then He spoke for God, and all of His followers whom the Sanhedrin hunted down, imprisoned and put to death were all innocent!

d.     If Christ is real, then there is such a thing as angels, life after death, and as God had said, being raised again!

e.      There were many reasons for the High Priest to be fearful of Paul's words, and have him struck. Perhaps the biggest fear, if Christ is real, the Messiah has come, and the High Priest no longer has all authority over the Jews, and all of the priests are no longer needed for man to have a relationship with God, and they would lose their position of power and authority.



c.      Fear will cause others to strike out at us about our faith.



II.   DEFENSE AGAINST JUDGMENT
a.      Paul says to the High Priest, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
i.       God will strike you,
a.      in other words, He will be my Defender!

ii.    You whitewashed wall!
a.      Remember Jesus told them they were like the whitewashed walls of tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead man's bones.

iii. You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!
a.      Contradiction, hypocrisy, those who judge our faith and obedience, are most times, just as guilty, if not more so because of their unwillingness to recognize it.

b.     Truth, the Word of God is a double-edged sword, and one must be skilled when handling it.
1.      The Word of God can be used to defend yourself against attacks, and it can be used to rebuke those who wish to harm you, however, if you do not have a full grasp of the Word, you may cause more harm to yourself than good.

b.     Paul was corrected, and accepted his correction!
i.       Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

ii.    Paul was told he just spoke harshly to the High Priest, which is against the Word.

iii. Paul recognized this, and wanting to keep God's Word to the best of his ability, apologizes, saying he did not know he was speaking to the High Priest.

iv.   Paul understands that, although the High Priest is in the wrong, it does not give Paul the right to do wrong as well.



III. REVEALING TRUTH
a.      Paul speaks a truth that ends this interrogation
i.       Knowing the Sanhedrin was made up of both Sadducees and Pharisees, Paul knows that Sadducees do not believe in angels, spirits, and to them there is no resurrection, even though God's Word speaks of it many times, even about king David!

ii.    “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

b.     This puts the court into an uproar, as the two sides begin to argue about angels, spirits and the resurrection.

c.      The court becomes violent, to the point the Captain of the guard had to have Paul removed from the court by force, before he was tore to pieces.

d.     Paul was returned to the barracks.



CONCLUSION

That night, the Lord stood by Paul, and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

1)     Take Courage
2)     Why? Because you have testified about me!
3)     You must continue to testify about me!

Like Paul, we will be attacked for our faith, accused of breaking God's laws by law breakers. However, we need to rightly represent the Lord, even when it is to those who are dishonoring Him.

We are not to take the low road, doing wrong simply because the ones we are dealing with are doing wrong.

Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

We need to live our lives serving God to the best of our understanding and ability.

And when we do fail, we need to confess, and repent, so that we too can look back on our lives without regret, and have a clear conscience.

As the Lord said to Paul, Take courage because you have testified about me!

NOT because they listened!

And continue to testify about me, regardless of is they listened!

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