Words of Faith 8-4-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.  You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship.  My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.  And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.  However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,  and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
 "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.  I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance.  But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.  Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin--  unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: 'It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.' "
Paul now stood before the governor to make his defense. It was customary to say a few words of flattery in an opening statement. Paul very carefully opened his defense with a polite comment that did not begin to flatter the king in the way his accusers did.
Then, piece by piece, Paul took apart the accusations against him. Paul was polite, to the point, and completely truthful in his defense. He did not attack his accusers; he simply refuted their accusations.
What is most interesting is what Paul did not say.
In this trial, 1) Paul did not give testimony to Felix of the saving grace of the Lord. 2) He did not share his personal testimony of dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. 3) He did not share how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew Scripture. Actually, Paul would later share these things with Felix and his wife, Drusilla, but why did he hold back in the trial?
There are two questions here, really. If Jesus did not defend Himself when brought before a governor and a king, why did Paul do so? If Paul was going to speak at all, why did he not give testimony to the faith? The answer is really quite simple, the leading of the Spirit. God did not lead Paul to suffer in silence (as Jesus did) without defense and He did not lead Paul to share the faith in this trial.
We often ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” (W.W.J.D.?) This is very helpful and often immediately clarifies the way we should respond to a situation. However there are numerous situations in which the answer to that question is either not clear or not helpful. This is a great example.
Jesus responded in certain ways during his trials so as to fulfill prophetic Scripture. Jesus also had a mission, which was to die for the sin of world. We are the Body of Christ but we are not Jesus. Paul was not Jesus. Our mission will be different, as was Paul’s.
So the better question might be simply, “What is Jesus telling me to do?” (W.I.J.T.M.T.D.?) Speak or be silent? Answer or not? Proclaim the Gospel or not? Jesus once said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces (Matthew 7:6).” There are clearly times when sharing the Gospel is not the leading of the Lord.
When we imitate Jesus, we could do so in the most superficial of ways by dressing ourselves in first century garb. We could also imitate Jesus in more significant ways by following the model of His words and life.
But the most significant way to imitate Jesus is to follow His utter dependence upon and surrender to His heavenly Father. Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me (John 6:38).” If the will of the Father had been for Jesus to call in a legion of angels to obliterate his enemies, Jesus would have done so. If the will of the Father had been for Jesus to preach to and convert Pilate and Herod, He would have done so.
Here is the point. Following Jesus is not as simple as imitating His life, but it is as simple as imitating His surrender. This is what Paul was doing. Surrender to the will of the Father. Surrender to the leading of the Spirit. “W.I.J.T.M.T.D.?” may not fit as well on a bracelet but gets a little closer to the life of true discipleship.
Lord, I am listening. Show me what to do today. Let me be found wholly surrendered to You this day. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.