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Whom do they say that you are?


sfspurlock

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Acts 27:3 "And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself."

As I was studying a few weeks ago, I ran across this in Paul's journey. As we all know the story, Paul was on his way to Rome and was being carried about by ship. I found this verse to be very enlightening about Paul's testimony in that he was a prisoner, much like the story of Joseph after being put in prison from Potiphar's house in Genesis 39. This verse just seemed to jump off the pages at me about what other people see in us as Christians.

I've been in law enforcement most all of my adult life--former USMC military police, former correctional officer in a jail, retired state police--I've seen a few jails in my day. I was involved one time in the moving of a couple of death row inmates that won new trials during appeals. They had been sitting in jail for a couple of years at that time and they needed some pretty high security. I've also arrested folks out on the highway and let them ride up front and run through a drive through on the way to the jail. I could tell stories all night about every kind of situation in between where I've had to wrestle, or beg and plead, or pull my pistol, all just to get people to go along with the program. The way people were treated varied some but depended wholly on the way they treated me. However, the one constant was they always stayed within my sight and control and I didn't trust them out of my sight. What does this tell us about Paul's testimony?

I see first that Paul had "character". Paul said he'd do something and he did it. Paul was told to do something and he did it. Paul set out to do something and he did it. He meant what he said and said what he meant. Look at the Phillipian jailer who would have killed himself but for Paul in Acts 16:27, 28. Paul and Silas didn't go anywhere when the bonds were loosed and the doors sprang open. They weren't going anywhere, Paul had a date with Caesar. This jailer passed the word along that Paul wasn't just a man of God, but he was a man of character. Paul's testimony proceeded him via the social network of the jailers and centurions and guards.

The next thing I see from Paul is his "conviction". Paul (Saul at the time) already believed in God as a Pharisee and scholar. In fact, before he was struck down and called by Jesus on the road to Damascus, Acts 26:10, 11 shows that Paul put many Christians in prison and even made some of them blaspheme Christ. This shows that Paul was once himself a form of police officer by chasing and persecuting Christians and testifying against them. Look at what it says, he "having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them." (Acts 26:11) Then, when he got saved, he changed his tune. He witnessed to his friends, not just the gentiles, but his police friends. He let his testimony speak for himself and he got liberty. They trusted him because he wasn't fighting against being in prison. He knew his mission was to speak in front of Caesar. He was headed to Rome--with conviction! :amen: What this tells me is that Paul not only had a reputation among the Christians, but again, among this network of jailers, centurions, and guards as mentioned before.

The other thing I see from Paul is his "commitment". Again, Paul has a date with Caesar. He knows the end, but he doesn't know the in between. Paul is committed to the cause. He is fighting the good fight. He also has commitment to those he is subject to within the justice system of the time. These are guys he prOBably knew at one time or another during his Christian hunting days. Now he's on the other side. Have you ever thought about bad cops? What about police officers that get caught in drug stings or beating people? These folks are the worst of the fall-from-grace-types. Can you imagine the first time Paul got arrested that he ran into one of his old pals? Hey Paul, you're one of them?? But his testimony shined through.

As I was studying on our text verse, it hit me all of a sudden, something here sounds strangely familiar with something Jesus said: "And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27) Jesus was sent here to do a jOB--"to seek and to save". He had character and He had conviction and He had commitment! He was beaten! He was "buffeted" (punched) with the palms of their hands! Beard pulled out! Crown of thorns! Nails in his hands and feet! Hung on the cross for three days! Finally, pierced in the side!

Whom do men say that you are? Do the people in who's charge you are in see your testimony? Can they turn you loose and let you go and know that it's going to get done?

Hey preacher boy--can your preacher give you a jOB to do and know that he can walk away and not have to look over your shoulder?

Hey soulwinner--are you there every time to meet with the others in your church to go out?

Hey Christian--are you sitting there like a bump on a log not doing anything waiting for the Spirit to move you? (or the mood to hit you)

Hey sinner--you're a good person, but it won't get you to Heaven. Have you trusted Christ?

Peace be with you and may God bless.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Excelllent sermon on the personal character of Paul the Apostle. Whether on the inside of a jail cell, or on the outside of the jail cell, he had the type of personal character that men came to trust.

Thank you for the personal insight as a law enforcement officer on the character of Paul. :th_tiphat:

Alan

 

Edited by Alan
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