||Chosen no: R-5942 c, from: 1916 Year.
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ST. PAUL A PRISONER IN THE CASTLE
--SEPTEMBER 17.--ACTS 22:17-29.--
PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST--THE MOB ENRAGED AGAIN--
COLONEL LYSIAS IN PERPLEXITY ORDERS THE ROMAN
SOLDIERS TO BEAT ST. PAUL--THE APOSTLE THEREUPON
DECLARES HIS CITIZENSHIP--LESSONS FROM HIS EXPERIENCES--
SUFFERING FOR CHRIST A MARK OF DIVINE
FAVOR--BITTERNESS AND SELFISHNESS REACT UPON
THOSE WHO CHERISH SUCH SENTIMENTS.
"He is my Refuge and my Fortress; my
God, in Him will I trust."--Psalm 91:2.
OUR last Study left St. Paul standing before
the mob and motioning for silence, in order
that he might address them. Doubtless he
considered his thrilling experiences well
compensated for by the privilege of that
moment--the privilege of telling a large
concourse of his countrymen about Jesus.
Promptly the Apostle preached Christ--that
Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah promised
in the Law and the Prophets, that His
sacrificial death constituted the Redemption Sacrifice for
Father Adam's forfeited life and, incidentally, for all of
Adam's children, who died under his curse.
Surely also St. Paul declared that Messiah was calling
a spiritual class to be His associates in His Millennial
Kingdom, and that shortly Israel and all the nations would
experience the privileges and blessings of that Kingdom!
Surely he pointed out the fact that this Gospel Age is
the acceptable time in which to make our calling and
election sure to the chiefest part of the Abrahamic
Covenant--the spiritual phase! Then he proceeded to
tell his audience about his missionary tours. He declared
that many of the Gentiles were gladly receiving this Message
and giving their hearts to the Lord in consecration.
THE GOSPEL MESSAGE REJECTED
But so strong was the Jewish prejudice that the mere
mention of the fact that this great blessing was going upon
equal terms to the Gentiles re-kindled the flame of hatred
and violence; and their shouts and jeers rent the air.
Perplexed at the situation, the Roman commandant concluded
that where there was so much opposition there
must be some cause for it. Thereupon he gave orders
that the Apostle be whipped until he confessed what he
had done to create such a tumult.
At once the command began to be carried out by the
soldiers, who proceeded to tie St. Paul to the whipping-post.
But the Apostle brought the proceedings to a quick
termination by inquiring of a centurion who stood by,
"Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman
and uncondemned?" When the centurion heard the question,
he reported the matter to the colonel, who came and
questioned the Apostle. He took St. Paul's word for it
that he was a Roman citizen; for to have made an untruthful
claim to citizenship would have meant sure death
as soon as the matter had been investigated. The Apostle
was held a prisoner for trial.
"THE DARKNESS HATETH THE LIGHT"
Matters are somewhat the same today, although on a
different plane. A worldly person, on hearing some sectarian
Christian animadvert against some one who has been
preaching the true Gospel of Christ would be inclined to
suppose that the Message must contain something very
vicious, very terrible indeed; else it would not so arouse
those who have outwardly so much "form of godliness."
And if, as in the case of the Roman officer, an audience
be granted, and the Truth be presented in the hearing of
the worldly person, he cannot understand it.
The reason for this is that "the world by wisdom
knows not God," knows little of His Plan, understands
little of His Word; for its language is different from
that to which they are accustomed. When then, after a
presentation of the Truth, the worldly find bitter opposition
and invective against it on the part of religious
teachers--modern Scribes, Pharisees and Doctors of Divinity--
we must not be surprised if they are the more
inclined to side with those who represent popular theology
--so-called "orthodoxy"--and assume that the true Gospel
must be something very evil, because taught by so
few and opposed by so many of influence.
Nevertheless, it is for God's children to take the
Apostle for their guide, and to be faithful to use every
opportunity to let the light shine forth, even though it
arouse the bitter opposition, prejudice and persecution of
darkness. Our Lord's explanation of the matter is that
"every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh
to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-21.)
Nothing seemed to incite the Scribes and
Pharisees of eighteen centuries ago so much as did the
reasonableness of the true Gospel. The common people
heard it gladly, unless intimidated by their religious rulers,
and were led to doubt those who had been teaching them
to the contrary. Hence the religious rulers were incensed
against the Gospellers. "They were grieved because they
[the Apostles] TAUGHT THE PEOPLE."--Acts 4:2,3,15-21.
LESSONS FROM THE APOSTLE'S EXPERIENCES
St. Paul was suffering as a Christian--because of
loyalty to the Lord and to His Word. He was not suffering
because he had followed the admonitions of the
brethren in going into the Temple; for very evidently the
hatred against them in the hearts of their enemies would
sooner or later have manifested itself, and they would
have sought the Apostle's life, as on previous occasions.
In this incident we merely see that the attempt of the
Apostles to create a favorable impression toward the
Apostle Paul and his work amongst the Gentiles probably
brought the matter of his arrest more quickly to the front
than any other course would have done.
The Apostle was not ashamed of his sufferings; for
he realized that they were endured for Christ's sake. Any
individual should feel deeply pained at a public arrest and
imprisonment as a felon, as a violator of the law. But
when these things are experienced because of faithfulness
to the Lord, because of following in His footsteps, such
may well rejoice in the ignominy, rejoice in the things
which otherwise would be shameful and detestable.
If therefore, in the Lord's providence, arrest or imprisonment
or scourging should come to any who read
this article, and they can directly or indirectly trace their
tribulation to faithfulness to the Lord and to His Truth,
let them not be ashamed. Let them glorify God on this
behalf, rejoicing that they are accounted worthy to suffer
for the name of Christ, and remembering that even thus
also was it with our Lord Jesus Himself. He was placed
under arrest; He was bound; He was scourged; He was
publicly insulted; He was even crucified as a blasphemer
against God.--1 Peter 4:16.
Another lesson which we may learn from today's Study
is that it is not wise to trust too implicitly the voice of
the multitude. If we find the rabble shouting against any
one, whether orally or through the press, we should not
unquestioningly accept their verdict. We should remember
the experiences of our Lord Jesus, the experiences of
St. Paul and of the other Apostles, and recall that the
multitude cried out, "Away with them!" The Christian
whose mind is thus relieved of prejudice is the better prepared
to judge wisely respecting whatever may properly
[R5942 : page 252] come under his observation or criticism. Then, if he
should have similar experiences himself, he will be the
better prepared to endure them.
Still another lesson for us is that when undergoing
trials and difficulties, however much we realize that they
could not come to us without the Lord's permission, nevertheless
we are at liberty to use any legitimate means for
our own deliverance--even as St. Paul took advantage of
his Roman citizenship. God had provided him in advance
with that measure of protection; and it would have been
culpable negligence on his part not to use it, and to expect
the Lord to deliver him in some miraculous manner.
How often we find in the pages of history that violence
and unreason have been manifested in the name of religion
and for the defense of various sects! How utterly foreign
to all such conduct is what St. Paul designates "the spirit
of a sound mind"--the spirit of reason, justice--not to
mention the spirit of generosity, loving-kindness and
tender mercy! As the sight of the foolishness and the
brutishness of a drunken person should act as a great
temperance lesson in every right-minded man and woman,
so such a scene as this depicted in today's Study, whether
recognized by our natural eyes or mentally seen through
the printed page, should be a lasting lesson against anything
so brutish and unreasonable. Let every instance of
religious bigotry and fanatical violence speak to our hearts
a lesson in the opposite direction, and fix in us resolutions
that by the grace of God we will never be thus foolish,
thus wicked, but contrariwise will become the more gentle,
the more kind, the more Christ-like, as the days go by.