This Week's Gospel Sermons

Christians In Caesarea - Scott Richardson

Edom And The Rejection Of Christ - Scott Richardson


May 2010 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.

May 23 - 26, 2010

Sunday Speaker:  Aubrey Belue

Monday - Wednesday Speaker:  Jeff May

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May 16, 2010

A City and Power

Caesarea was a city on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It was located on the main road from Tyre to Egypt about halfway between Joppa and Dora. This would be about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The city was here because of the political power of one man; this city was founded and built by Herod the Great in 10 BC and named for Caesar Augustus.

This section of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea is extremely unfavorable to harbors as it is “smooth” and has no natural inlets or places for the docking of ships. The harbor here was artificial. The great breakwater was built by laying stones with an average size of 50 x 18 x 9 feet in size to depths of up to 20 fathoms. Its mole was about 200 feet wide surmounted by a large wall and towers. Herod had all of this work done in a period of only ten to twelve years.

Herod erected many grand public buildings along with a theater and ampitheater with a view to the sea. The city was modern and “up-to-date” with a complete system of spacious sewers under the city to assist with cleanliness and health.

Though in Palestine, Caesarea was very much a Roman city. Political, military, and economic power were centered here. It was made the capital of the Roman province of Judea. It was the seat of the Roman Procurators and the headquarters of the Roman troops for the region.

The city was one of much pomp and wealth because of the political importance. Tensions between these Roman politicians and the Jewish citizens grew. Jews began to be persecuted in later years. It was here that the Emperor Vespasian was empowered by his soldiers. It was here that Titus celebrated his brother, Domitian’s birthday by putting 2,500 Jews in the ampitheater to fight with wild animals.

Roman gods and goddesses were worshiped in Caesarea; as with most heavily political cities of the day, it seemed the rulers were more enamoured of themselves than any “god.” Remember, it was here that Agrippa I died a miserable death “being eaten of worms” after accepting “god-like” praise (Acts 12:20-23).

There was also a strong Jewish presence in Caesarea. Because of this, many gentiles of the city had an understanding of the one true God. A perfect example is the Roman Centurion, Cornelius. He was a man who feared God and prayed to Him continually. In Acts 10, we read of Peter coming from Jerusalem to explain the message of Jesus to him. Now Caesarea experiences “real” power — the power of the gospel to save even the gentile.

Cornelius had been informed that Peter would have a message which he needed (Acts 10:5,6). Cornelius could ascertain that, if he needed this message, others needed it also. So, he called together his kinsmen and near friends (Acts 10:24). In a study of the book of Acts we find different types of audiences but none like this one — a real model (Acts 10:33).

Cornelius said, “We are ALL here.” Cornelius had done it. He had all of them there. Some of us can’t seem to get family members and friends to religious gatherings. Is it our people? Is it us? Do we try? If so, did we wait too long to try? These questions should be soul searching questions for all of us. All of these people seemed to have confidence in Cornelius. Do ours have confidence in us?

Cornelius said, “We are all here PRESENT BEFORE GOD.” He knew that he was in the presence of God. All of us need to have the same awareness (Heb. 4:13). We all need to remember that God is present in time of trouble, too (Heb. 13:5). On the other hand, God knew how much Cornelius and the whole Gentile world needed the saving gospel, which thing no Jewish Christian seemed to know.

Cornelius said that he and those with him were present to HEAR. People sometimes come to religious gatherings to see or be seen, to be entertained, or for other reasons. People are commanded to hear (Matt. 11:15), to take heed to “what” they hear (Mark 4:24), and to take heed “how” they hear (Luke 8:18).

Cornelius then said they were present to hear ALL THINGS COMMANDED THEE OF THE LORD. Truly, we are expected to hear God’s truth (John 8:32; 1 Pet. 4:11). We are expected to hear the whole truth (Acts 20:27). We are to hear nothing but that which comes from God (2 John 9). There is only one truth (Gal. 1:6-9).

When all things commanded had been preached on this occasion, what did these people find was required of them? They were to believe (Acts 10:43). They were to repent (Acts 11:18). They were to be baptized in water (Acts 10:47,48). This was so because this had to be done to have remission of sins (Acts 22:16). These things had to be attended to even though for God’s purpose they had received the Spirit. They were still in their sins until they were told what to do (Acts 11:14).

By the fifth century, the city was much in decline. There was a massacre of Christians by Jews and Samaritans during political turmoil. Later, circa 638, the city fell to Moslems and then throughout the crusades was much battled over. It finally fell in 1265. Today there is almost nothing left except the name and a fews ruins of the original aqueducts. What happened to the power of Herod? What happened to the great political power in Caesarea? The power of the gospel is still with us — it is still the power of God for salvation. Where do we place our trust — in the power of man or the power of the gospel?

— S. Scott Richardson Sr.  

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