The Defense

"Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you." Acts 22:1

After Paul was falsely accused of "hate speech" he was beaten by the mob, and taken into custody by the law. His appeal to the Roman commander granted him a brief opportunity to address those who sought to kill him.

Paul shared his personal testimony. It is a vivid presentation of the way God reaches down to a man full of passion and lost in the dark, and confronts him with the light of Jesus. He didn't leave him the way he found him, or make a mere name change. Jesus not only transformed Saul into Paul, but gave him a life full of meaning and purpose. He only does this...EVERY TIME.

"'Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" v. 21b

Paul quoted Jesus. This has a peculiar impact upon those who hate The Son of God, and everything He died for. It drove them crazy. It still does. The lost world is not so much blinded by the Person of Jesus, as they are offended by The Light. They simply prefer the darkness.

Rebellious people know what they are doing is wrong. They have no interest in a debate about right and wrong. They intend to continue doing what is wrong. Their only alternative is to silence those who speak the words of Jesus and carry out His commission. The salt of Scripture and the light of a Christian testimony is an offense to them that cannot be tolerated. It must be annihilated.

Note to self: Phil Robertson is your brother. Stand with him. I know you have never watched his TV show, and the whole thing has seemed a little silly to you, up until now. But this current firestorm is why God placed him in that place of notoriety. Phil is a lightning rod, and God is going to light up a dark nation by letting The Light of Jesus shine through him. This is not an accident. It is a counter-attack. The enemy always overplays his hand. God is moving the troops to the front of the culture war. Move to the sound of the guns.

"They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, 'Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!' And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust in the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks that he should be examined by scourging..." v.22-24

Recent reaction to remarks made by Phil Robertson in a "GQ" magazine interview have led to his suspension from his own TV show on the "A & E" TV channel. Opponents had either ignored or tolerated all of the antics and opinions of the extended family on show. Let us say, that Louisiana duck hunters aren't the rage at most liberal media cocktail parties, or the guests of honor at GLAAD award presentations. That was true, until the patriarch of the clan, off camera, began to speak freely about his Christina beliefs regarding homosexuality. He crossed the line by speaking his mind. This freedom is reserved for those on the Left. Those on the right are expected to exercise their right to self-muzzle, not to engage in self-defense.

This kind of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech always lights up those who want everything tolerated under the sun, except Christian values. What happened to all that obsessive compulsion the secularists hold so dear, about the right of all Americans to have to have freedom of choice, and access to unlimited freedom? It turns out to be a one way street, and the only way you can access it is to make a "Left" turn. It you move in the wrong direction, they will try to put you into the wall.

Paul simply spoke the very words he had heard from Jesus, and they lit up the listening crowd into a raging mob all over again. He was not going to win this debate. The enemy is never interested in a debate. The purpose of the enemy is to annihilate. The strategy is an ancient one.

Paul was dragged into the barracks and the commander ordered him to be scourged. Paul had been plucked from one form of death, and had it replaced by another. The only difference was a legal technicality. Either way, Paul was a dead man.

Once again, Paul claimed his rights of Roman citizenship, under the law. He may have to take the whipping, but he wasn't going to do it without claiming his rights. Only fools do that, and Paul was no fool.

Christian citizens in this nation, and this time, need to get over the foolish notion that turning the other cheek means suffering in silence while their rights as citizens are being peeled off, one at a time. They should follow Paul's lead, and defend their rights under the law. They need not react in fear, but they need to stand up with courage while they still have ground to stand upon.

"Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?" v. 25

This one question had the effect of a red flashing light, and an ear piercing siren. It was more than a warning shot across the bow. It called for an immediate halt to the injustice that was taking place.

Roman Citizenship had its privileges and protections. Any nation that cheapens it citizenship loses its identity. Paul had been born with a passport to freedom, and he didn't intend to give it up without a fight. Christian citizens are saved by grace, but they could learn from Paul's passion for justice under the law.

"When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, 'Take heed what thou doest; for this man is a Roman.' Then the captain came and said unto him, 'Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, 'Yea.' And the chief captain answered, 'With a great sum obtained I this freedom.' And Paul said, "But I was free born." v. 29 KJV

The soldiers backed away from Paul, and the captain deferred to him. They had mistreated a citizen of Rome, and they would be held accountable for it under the law. Paul would still have to face many trials in the days ahead. By calling for the reinstatement and protection of his rights, he delayed the enemy's plan to destroy one Jew, and set in motion a counter-attack that conveyed God's plan to spread The Gospel to the Gentiles.

The defense of Paul's rights would be a long process that would end in his death. The delay would keep him in prison. Paul's prison letters would be penned and sent where his body could not go. They remain the heart of the Bible, and the final authority on the life of the believer and the mission of the church. It was all made possible by taking a stand, and making a defense of his citizenship, under the law.

Pray for Christian citizens to stand up and engage in the culture war that they have invited to come upon this nation, by failing to stand up for Christian beliefs, and to protect Religious Liberty. Pray that their stand would begin by kneeling before God, and asking Him for forgiveness, and mercy.

Pray that God's response to their prayers will lead to a Great Awakening. Pray for a movement of the Spirit of God that involves a long-term saturation of this nation with His Presence, and a climate changing infusion of Christ's character. Let it begin. Lord, do it again. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!