Al Hassler, lead trial lawyer at Smith & Hassler based in Houston, Texas, taught from chapters 24-26 of Acts. These chapters cover Paul’s trial in Jerusalem dealing with the charges of causing riots and promoting a false religion. Al introduced exhibits, called witnesses and used the congregation as his “jury panel.” You can watch the service each week on our Facebook Page. Click here to see what the trial of Paul might have looked like.
This week’s study dives into some of the things that would be a strong defense to the charges against Paul, as well as a call to examine what YOU believe and give your life to. Al quoted missionary Jim Eilliott: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”, philosopher Ralph Emerson who said “don’t tell me things. For all the while who you are stands over you and thunders so I cannot hear what you say to the contrary”, and the Apostle Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). As you pray and study this week, what are your life’s values and priorities and what have you done about Jesus Christ and “The Way” (as the Christian faith is called in Acts)? It ultimately determines your destiny and mine. If you were on a witness stand, how would you answer the question from Luke 9:20, “Who do YOU say that I am?” Who is Christ to you? Is He Lord of your life and “the way” that leads, guides and directs your life?
MONDAY: Joel 1:1: Al’s main “exhibit” was The Bible and how it is unique because of its claims to be true revelation from God. This verse indicates how the various authors were given the words by God himself. The Scriptures are God inspired and God breathed. They were then and they still are today. Malachi 3:6 states, “I the Lord do not change.” How seriously to you take the Holy Scriptures? How might you create time in your daily schedule to be in the Word of God for learning, listening and knowing God more? If being in the Bible regularly sounds tedious to you, have you ever thought about praying for God to give you a desire for His Word?
TUESDAY: Romans 12:18 & Romans 13:1-2. One of the charges against Paul was he was causing riots. These verses indicate what Paul was actually teaching on his missionary journeys and the true posture of his heart in that regard. Basically, he instructs people to trust and follow government authority. How do you feel about that teaching? Do you believe it still applies today? Can you imagine that God – who created heaven and earth – is still in charge in spite of how you might feel about any of our government authorities and no matter who is President? Can you trust perhaps there is some divine purpose? His ways are higher than our ways. Can you surrender to such things – – – even within the political realm and in our current political climate?
WEDNESDAY: Proverbs 12:22 & Acts 24:5: Al called Ananias as a witness (played by our worship leader Josh Nunez). Through this witness, he established that Ananias knew Paul and admitted Paul into the Pharisees, which wouldn’t happen if the person was not honest, upstanding and knowledgable of all the law. In spite of all this, it was Ananias who brought the charges against Paul. Al asserted that Ananias was a disgrace to the title of high priest because he brought these charges without any eyewitnesses as required by Deuteronomy 19:15. Ananias did not believe Jesus was the Messiah so he consciously chose to circumvent the law said to bring charges against Paul despite his lack of eye witnesses.
THURSDAY: Acts 17:1-5: Al used these verses as proof that there were other witnesses to how Paul conducted himself. Many were persuaded and joined in The Way during Paul’s missionary journeys. There are many people out there who have never heard the truth of the gospel. Perhaps you could consider sharing that truth, or the way that truth has impacted your life, with someone (a family member) or inviting someone to church? Rev. 12:11 talks about being overcomers by the blood of the lamb (Jesus) and by your testimony. Also, 2 Peter 3:15 instructs us to be prepared to give testimony. Do you have a version of your story to give to people?
FRIDAY: Acts 26:15-18: The second charge brought against Paul was for promoting a false religion (sometimes called a sect). The “evidence” Al presented to the “jury” against this charge is Paul’s miraculous changed life. Also, Paul endured five floggings because he refused to stop sharing the truth of the gospel. Attorney Hassler asserted no one would endure such pain and agony if it were not the truth. Paul’s actions proved his intentions. No one can continue promoting an untruth and go through such suffering. What is your attitude when things are not going your way or you are in a tough season of life? Do you grumble and complain? The Bible talks much about lamenting (basically fussing at God and telling him how you feel) and it is seen throughout Psalms, but speaks against grumbling. How can you begin to work on an attitude change when things are difficult, and they WILL be difficult. John 16:33 reminds us “in this world you will have trouble” but reminds us that Jesus has overcome the world.