BEHOLDING THE COUNCIL
Acts 22:30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
One “key” verse that opens up the entire purpose and meaning of the Scriptures is John 5:39. It states, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Here, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), is instructing us that the flat letters of Bible verses, which by itself, “killeth,” (2 Corin. 3:6), are not to be sought after for eternal life! And that is quite shocking to religious traditionalists! But we must know that salvation is not in a program, but in the Person of Jesus Christ! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
But the Lord is also telling us that every letter, every comma, and every period, every person, every historical account, every color, every fabric, every evil and every good are to bring us into – not a biblical knowledge of religious history – but into an opportunity to know Him!
Therefore we should not just study Paul before the chief priests and all their council, in the presence of the Roman authorities. (In this case it was Claudius Lysias [Acts 23:26], the chief captain, who was in command of all the centurions and soldiers at the fort near the Jewish temple.) But let us not omit Him who has pre-eminence in all things! For he is the Head of the church, our Lord Jesus Christ! (Col. 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.)
Paul and Christ’s Birth – We see that Paul’s birth, brought up twice in these chapters of Acts, brought the honor of citizenship to him and once prevented him from persecution. See Acts 16:36-39 & 22:25-29.
But Christ’s birth assured him of persecution, shame and death! For when first we first read of him, he is, even before time, introduced to us as a slain Lamb! Rev. 13:8 … the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
And what is the ancient issue of faith with the man Abraham, when God sets out to form his church? Was it not the issue of the offering of the son’s sacrifice? Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Now listen to the Lamb’s interpretation of this experience that he gave to his friend Abraham: John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The Person of the I AM (Exodus 3:14), reveals that this issue of faith which he presented to Abraham was that which opened the spiritual eyes of his servant to see the coming of the Messiah as a sacrificial Lamb! For Abraham took Isaac up on Mount Moriah, which is called Mount Calvary in the New Testament. And as Isaac had the wood for the sacrifice on his back, so the Son of God would have the cross on his, ascending the same path, up the same mountain. And as Abraham had the knife and fire in his hand, so God the Father had the knife of justice and the fire of judgment that would fall upon his Son, bringing salvation to the elect and satisfaction to Himself! (Acts 20:28; Isaiah 53:11).
And just how did the Lord Jesus understand his mission, requiring his human birth? John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. And Pilate, thinking only from a political view, inquires of the Lord’s purpose. And here, the Lord gives response concerning the purpose of his birth. John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Paul and Christ Smitten – In Acts 23:1-5, (listed above), we have the account of Paul being smitten at the command of the high priest. This is but an ‘echo’ of Christ’s sufferings. Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: For Christ is the “Pattern” for all the lives of his elect people.
Here is the account of Christ being smitten in the presence of the High Priest: John 18:22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? And this is not just a historical event, happening solely to one person within the halls of religious tradition. For he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa. 53:5).
But what of Luke 6:29? And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Why did neither Paul, nor Christ offer the other cheek? It was because that they actually represented the Judge of all the earth! They were not the ones on trial! Their accusers were the ones being tried in the courtroom of God Himself! Ezekiel 7:8 Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.
For both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul brought to bear upon them the righteous law of God in order to correct and recover them from violating that which they prided themselves in keeping! Reread John 18:23 and Acts 23:3, both listed above to see the requirement to obey that law and not bear false witness.
Paul also addresses this in his letter to the Romans. Romans 2:17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Paul’s and Christ’s Guilt – Neither the Apostle Paul nor the Lord Christ were found guilty of anything before the courts! And of both, the Roman authorities left a written record of their innocence.
Here is the verdict concerning Paul from both the chief captain of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, and of King Agrippa. Acts 23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
Acts 26:31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
And of Christ, both Herod and Pilate informed the Jews three times that they found no fault in this man. Luke 23:13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
This injustice assures us of one thing – the Lord Jesus was most assuredly a lamb without spot or blemish! He WAS a worthy sacrifice! For both this court of the civil magistrate, and the witness of God, the Father himself, give us assurance of that! For had he been guilty of the slightest infraction in either mind, body, motive, or method, the Father would have never raised him out of that grave! And on this relies the validation of faith! Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Dear Reader, this is the very heart of the gospel! For it is the imputing of our sin upon Christ that both caused his death and our life! 2 Corin. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The imputation of our sin to Christ made him an unlawful captive. Isaiah 49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? We were ‘lawful captives!’ For the soul that sinneth it shall die! But Christ knew no sin. Therefore when the god of this world, (2 Corin. 4:4), who then had the power of death, was involved in the sacrifice of this life, supplying the wicked hands to accomplish the crime, (Acts 2:23), he lost his kingdom and was consigned to the abyss of darkness forever!
Read here just what the Lord Christ accomplished ‘through death.’ Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
And just what did he accomplish in the way of our salvation by this wrongful punishment? Go back up and read again the last phrase in that 2 Corinthians 5:21 verse. And just what does it state? … that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The ‘soul winners’ and ‘free willers’ only promised us an escape from hell by making a decision. But that is not what Christ provided. The ‘full gospel’ gang promise us a life free from disease. But that is not what Christ provided. And the ‘prosperity’ crowd promises a life of luxury. But just what did Christ provide? It is a ‘commodity’ unavailable by religious sources. He provided the righteousness of God. The sinner is not just made moral! He is made righteous! And this righteousness is the very same righteousness of God Himself! For regeneration, (salvation by the indwelling Holy Spirit – and there is none other!), causes the poor sinner to be like him! Glory to God and the Lamb forever! 2 Corin. 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Settle it, dear soul. If God made Christ to be sin for us, he as surely made us to be the very righteousness of God in him! For the righteousness beating within the breast of the cleansed and spiritually in-dwelt soul is the very righteousness of him who sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high right now! There is no other salvation. If that is too strong for you, it is probably because you mostly only know church members practicing religious traditions, and not many really truly righteously imputed believers!
May God have mercy on unregenerate church members.
Pastor Gene Breed 09/01/13