Acts 25:8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
In verse 8 we are again reminded that Paul answered for himself. God is making a point of this.
I Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
No one understands God’s Word better than His own faithful children. Lawyers are trained in secular schools where they learn to babble and deceive people into thinking they are intelligent. They lack the ability to proclaim the truth. Christians do not need that noise. Christians are called upon to proclaim God’s truth in all avenues of life.
Thus we see Paul fully capable of answering for himself and giving a very clear defence of his actions. He made it clear that he had not broken any Jewish laws, nor had he defiled the temple in any way. He had also not tried to overthrow the Roman government. Paul, as a saved man, followed the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to overthrow the Roman government. He came to lay down His life for the sheep. He did all that He did to show the people that He was and is the Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament. He subjected Himself to the laws of the land because they were not interfering with His purpose in coming to earth. He taught God’s Word as He had originally given It. God’s Word had been distorted by false priests and false prophets and ungodly kings and by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and others of that ilk. Jesus Christ showed the people the truth and showed them the way to be free from bondage.
The apostle Paul had also travelled to many places and preached the Gospel. His preaching was offensive to the ungodly religious people. However, people were being saved through the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Churches were established and saints were becoming grounded in the truth. God was blessing Paul’s work because it was the work that God wanted him to do.
In verse 9 we see that Festus was a well trained politician. He also did not care about truth. God’s truth is convicting, but there are many people who harden themselves against the truth. It is extremely foolish to do this, but this is common among us as people. It is the grace of God that works to save the few who turn to Him in repentance and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Among those few, there are a few who submit to God’s call in their lives and they study God’s Word and then proclaim His truth faithfully to those He sends their way. Paul was one of those few.
Festus was sent Paul’s way. However, Festus was a lost man who loved the praise of men. Thus we read that he was looking for ways to please the Jews. It was not that he had to concern himself about being elected. However, he did need to make sure that the Caesar heard good reports about him.
Festus asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to answer the accusations against him. He wanted to show respect to the religious headquarters even though Jerusalem was deeply corrupted at this time. Festus cared nothing about this. To him, it seems that religion was a form of entertainment. As a politician he would have observed there were many forms of religion and in his mind none was more legitimate than any other. That is still the opinion of many people today.
I have been told before that the world would be much better off if we would just forget about God and live a “good” life. John Lennon, who amazingly was recently declared to have been saved prior to his death, wrote that corrupt and wicked song “Imagine”. Many people agree with the philosophy he taught in his life.
Paul was not playing church or religion. Paul was a truly born again Christian. Paul was a chosen vessel of God. He submitted to God’s call and was saved. He did not try to use Christianity for nefarious purposes. He is a picture of the work of God in the heart of a lost person and changing that heart into a vessel that will glorify Him. That is what God saves people for. Those who are saved, are bought with a price. We do not belong to ourselves. We have submitted to God’s authority and once saved, we are called to learn how to walk as His child. Paul did that and he was blessed in doing so and he was also a great blessing to mankind in being an instrument that God would use to give us much further teaching from Him.
Thus Felix found Paul different than the Judaizers. Now Festus was also going to discover that Paul was unique. He actually believed what he was saying. He was not putting on a front. He genuinely wanted to see people saved and he understood that there was no room for politicking when it comes to God’s truth. God’s truth is God’s truth. God does not need man to try to mingle his opinions with the truth. God’s truth will stand all on its own. When man tries to mix his opinions with God’s truth, we water down the truth.
Being a pastor requires the willingness to stand upon God’s truth and not try to change His truth because we think we have a better way of saying things. A phrase I believe God has made me aware of is “in other words”. I have caught myself saying that when I am preaching. If I catch myself saying that, I try to correct that immediately. God does not need me to re-interpret His truth. His truth is powerful and it will cause offence to those who hate Him. As a Christian and as a pastor, it is not my duty to try to make God’s Word acceptable to man. It is my duty to preach His Word faithfully. That is what Paul did and God blessed him in doing so.
Festus, as a governor, would observe some things he probably had never encountered before. He would be held accountable for his foolish actions toward the truth. He was privileged to be able to hear from Paul in a personal audience, and yet he rejected God’s Word. Paul was the preacher, but God was the author of the message.
As we see in the following verse, Paul was not willing to play the political game. He knew there was nothing to be gained in going back to Jerusalem. God was not blessing the religious corruption of that place. The temple had lost its place in God’s economy. Even today, Jerusalem is the political capital of Israel, but it is such a hodge podge of religion that it cannot be a blessing. One day Jerusalem will be the spiritual and political capital of Israel. That will happen when Jesus Christ comes back as King in the end of the Tribulation.
Paul, as a Jew, understood what God was doing and thus he did not allow sentimentality to interfere with God’s will. We need to pray for that humility and boldness today as well.