Resurrection Investigation

Paul was still in jail in Caesarea, and two full years had passed. Felix would bring Paul from time to time to talk, but there is no evidence that he continued in any conviction of sin; he was hoping for a bribe (Acts 24:26). The time had come for new leadership and Paul had a brand new audience. Festus replaced Felix.

Paul came before Festus and again he pleaded his case, that he had done nothing wrong (Acts 25:8). Festus invited him to Jerusalem for a trial (Acts 25:9) but rather than return to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:10, 11) He was destined for Rome (which was God’s design already).

Festus had an interesting statement, he “was at a loss how to investigate” Paul’s claim that a dead man had come to life (Acts 25:20). How would each of us conduct such an investigation?

Our first task is to make it personal; Jesus is not just someone to believe in, he is someone to know. Once you know he is risen, a conviction develops that will not be swayed. We know him since he speaks directly to our hearts, not just our heads. Dead prophets of the Old Testament don’t save, guide, heal, deliver, answer prayer or speak through the ancient text. The first step is to open your heart to the possibility that Jesus is who he said he was. Then ask him if he is real, and be honest and open enough for him to reveal himself to you. A good investigative reporter asks these questions: who? what? where? when? and how?

What? This passage tells us the what; including who is in charge, what is he up to and where he is leading.

When? No one, not even Paul, knew the answer to when God would fulfill his promise. Paul just knew that God had called him to finish the task he had been given. The Jewish patriarchs all died before receiving the promise. They all believed God would send his Messiah, but they did not know when, or who it would be. They knew what he would come to do; bring salvation. They were certain of where; Israel, and then to other parts of the world. But the problem is that they did not know when God would do all of this.

How? Paul knew God was sending him to Rome, but he did not know how. Festus thought he had decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:25) but it was actually God’s decision. Paul probably never imagined that his arrest would be a tool in God’s hand to give him an all expenses paid trip to Rome. God always fulfills his promises, and we just don’t know how he will do it. God promised to send the Messiah, but no one ever guessed exactly how he would do it.

Application: Each of us at some point in our lives must come to terms with the claims of Christ. C. S. Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, about his famous theological trilemma. Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:30, 14:9). That claim is either true or it is false. If it is false and he knew it; it make Jesus a liar. If it is false and he didn’t know it; it makes him a lunatic. Neither option makes Jesus one worth following. The only logical option is that he claimed to be God and it was true; so the choice we have to make is to accept or reject this fact.

The resurrection can be investigated as well (read more). I see it as God’s affirmation of all that Christ stood for and taught during his earthly life. Jesus proved that all he said and taught was true by rising from the dead; just as he said he would (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, 27:63, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, John 2:19).

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Paul and the Inconvenient Gospel

Paul is now under arrest, Ananias is the High Priest who brought a lawyer named Tertullus to bring the charges against Paul (Acts 24:1, 2). What we have here is a disgusting political spiel that has no resemblance to the truth; after all, the commander who had Paul under his protection wrote to Felix mentioning Paul had done nothing to deserve death or imprisonment (Acts 23:29, 30).

The first thing Tertullus does is to flatter Felix, the governor (Acts 24:2, 3). When you research Felix, you will find that he was a vile and incompetent leader; Nero had him recalled only two years earlier. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Felix was known for his violent use of repressive force and corrupt self-aggrandizement.” The lawyer was undoubtedly flattering Felix.

He then said that Paul was a troublemaker who stirred up riots and he tried to desecrate the temple (Acts 24:3-5). Paul responds by recounting his adventure and journey to Jerusalem. Luke adds an interesting detail, that Felix was well acquainted with the Way (Acts 24:22). He was in a no win situation, with a large Jewish population and Paul a Roman citizen, he basically did nothing but leave Paul in jail (Acts 24:22, 23, 27).

God sent the imprisoned preacher to an audience of two, Felix and his wife Drusilla (Acts 24:24). Drusilla was the third wife of Felix, each had left a former spouse to marry. Luke mentions Paul “discoursed” with them, meaning they had discussions back and forth, a conversation rather than a sermon (Acts 24:25, 26). The core of the message was faith in Christ (Acts 24:24).

The discussion was on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come (Acts 24:25). Felix heard “enough for now” and told Paul he could leave; go away for now, I will call for you when I need you. Felix was afraid. I suspect that was the work of the Holy Spirit. I think it is never convenient to discuss personal sin. Human nature will often resist what is best for us, but if we dare to hear and accept the truth, we can be set free.

It only mentions that Felix was afraid, perhaps Drusilla simply did not humble herself enough to become afraid. Her past indicates a history of pride. Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:19-23) was her father. He claimed glory that only God deserved. Remember his fate? He was eaten by worms and died (the Bible mentions these two in this order, what a horrible way to go – Acts 12:23). She led an adulterous life in spite of all she knew about morality and reverence for God. She apparently resisted Paul’s message.

Application: Have you heard the message and repeatedly resist submitting to Christ? It’s probably the most unnoticed plague on America, we are inoculated just enough with the gospel to be happy with our beliefs but we are far from what the Bible calls a disciple of Christ. We often tell Jesus to go away until a more convenient time, and we will call for him later when we want him or when we need him. The gospel can often be inconvenient when we are not serious about life change and authentic discipleship. When the topic is righteousness, sin, self-control, or judgment, we get uncomfortable more than we get convicted. Don’t allow the world to squeeze you into its mold (Romans 12:1, 2). Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed into the new creation that God desires for you to be.

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