Acts 25 … Consider His Great Divide

Originally posted: 2/05/2020

When the accusers stood up, they began bringing charges against him not of such crimes as I was expecting, 19 but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive,” (25:18-19). 

As Festus presents Paul’s case to King Agrippa, Festus actually considered the accusers’ charges unfounded and absurd.

For it seems absurd to me in sending a prisoner, not to indicate also the charges against him,” (25:27). 

His evaluation of Paul’s situation deemed it, unexpectedly and simply, points of disagreement. What was the big deal?

But the reality is, there is nothing simple about the differences between the religion of the Jews and faith in Jesus.

Perhaps, if Paul would just stop with these Resurrection claims… but, how could he? For he himself had witnessed the Resurrected Savior. And therein lies His Great Divide.

In laying Paul’s case before King Agrippa, what Festus describes as “points of disagreement,” is in reality, a precise and succinct description of His Great Divide.

“but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive,” (25:18-19). 

 His Great Divide: Does He desire religion or a relationship?
points of disagreement… about their own religion

 His Great Divide: is Jesus a dead man or the Living God?
points of disagreement… about a dead man, Jesus

 His Great Divide: Is His Resurrection a reality or a fabrication?
points of disagreement… about Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive

Consider His Great Divide

If only the Jewish leaders had paid attention to God’s work and His Word so graciously provided throughout all their history. From the beginning, God demonstrated His Great Divide, offering the choice; choose Him or self.

  •  His Great Divide: His Way OR ours
    • “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die,” (Genesis 2:15-17).
  • His Great Divide: belief OR unbelief
    • And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness,” (Genesis 15:5-6).
  • His Great Divide: life and prosperity OR death and adversity
    • “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it,” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).
  • His Great Divide: Him OR our own gods
    • “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:15).
  • His Great Divide: His revelation OR our own estimation
    •  Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
      And our sorrows He carried;
      Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten of God, and afflicted.
      But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
      He was crushed for our iniquities;
      The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
      And by His scourging we are healed.
      All of us like sheep have gone astray,
      Each of us has turned to his own way;
      But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
      To fall on Him, (Isaiah 53:4-6).
  • His Great Divide: light OR darkness
    • In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5).
  • His Great Divide: grace and truth OR the Law
    • For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ, (John 1:17).
  • His Great Divide: life freely granted by faith OR death deservedly earned by the flesh
    • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).
  • His Great Divide: eternity in His Presence OR eternal separation and suffering
    • And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, (Revelation 20:12, 15).
    • And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away,” (Revelation 21:3-4).

How do we respond to His Great Divide?

God’s work and His Word continually declare the truth of His Great Divide, and His coming judgment when we insist on choosing our own way.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear,
(Isaiah 59:2).

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed,” (John 3:19-20).

God’s work and His Word have faithfully revealed Jesus Christ, through His prophesied and fulfilled sacrifice on the cross, as the One Who eradicates His Great Divide and reconciles us to both God and one another.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him, (Isaiah 53:6).

 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity, (Ephesians 2:14-16).

But we also know His Great Divide is still in existence today; no one Divides like Jesus.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you,” (John 15:18-19).

We know not everyone will cross over His Great Divide by faith and be reconciled to God through Jesus. But that should never dissuade us from sharing the truth of the gospel and all Jesus did in our own lives to eliminate His Great Divide and bring us into His family.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, (Ephesians 2:19).

As we seek Him as Lord of our lives daily, He is faithful to strengthen us to be His witnesses in both word and deed. Let us pray we would be willing to find ourselves outside our comfort zone, on His side of His Great Divide, prepared and ready to share the hope we have through Jesus.

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame, (1 Peter 3:14-16).

May our lives be a testimony of submission and gratitude, always remembering He has rescued us from His Great Divide and transferred us to His glorious kingdom!

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, (Colossians 1:13-14).

Let’s Grow Together!

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