Home | Archives | Guest Book | Links | churches of Christ | Contact Us
Plan of Salvation
 | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Store | World Evangelism
Gospel Gazette Online logo

Serving an international
readership with the
Old Jerusalem Gospel
via the Internet.

Vol.  10  No. 2 February 2008  Page 5
powered by FreeFind
Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

Raymond Elliott

Paul Before Felix

By Raymond Elliott

    “And as he reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified” (Acts 24:25). The preacher on this occasion was the great apostle Paul. We all have to admire his determination and courage in preaching the Gospel of Christ regardless of the circumstances. This man of God felt indebted to all men since he possessed the inspired message of salvation (Romans 1:14-16; 1 Corinthians 9:16). To speak boldly the truth to an assembly of dignitaries that would assuredly disagree with the message requires more courage and fortitude. Because of such faithfulness, Paul could truthfully say, “But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). Preachers of this caliber are in great demand today in the church of the Lord.

    The audience was made up of people like Felix and Drusilla, among others. Felix and his brother Pallus had been slaves in the household of Agrippina, mother of the emperor Claudius. Thus, he had come from a lowly slave to become a ruler over a province. Felix was a corrupt individual. He was guilty of selling justice for bribes, among other vices. Drusilla was a daughter of Herod Agrippa, who murdered the apostle James and who miserably perished soon afterwards (Acts 12:1-2, 20-23). Her first husband was Azia, king of Emesa. It is believed that Felix, with the aid of one Simon a sorcerer, lured her away from her husband. Felix and Drusilla lived in open adultery.

    Let us now observe the sermon that Paul preached to this august but corrupt audience. The apostle spoke of “the faith in Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24). On other occasions Paul appealed to the Old Testament Scriptures to prove the Sonship of Christ, His death and resurrection (Acts 26:22-23). Paul also preached a relevant message, that is, those needed lessons for the present audience. Thus, we read in Acts 24:25 that Paul “reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come.” Felix, like all un-regenerated men, was filled with iniquity. “There is none righteous, no not one.” “For all have sinned, and fall of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). The sinner can become cleansed from his sins only though the blood of Jesus Christ. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). In short, man was on his way to eternal ruin when God manifested his love toward us in the death of Christ. Man deserved to die and be lost. The only way that the sinner could be made righteous was through faith in Christ Jesus in humble obedience to the Gospel. He was, therefore, pardoned of his wrongs. God’s justice was tempered with mercy. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The man to whom God does not reckon sin is the individual whose sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:7-8; Ephesians 1:7). Felix was living in open adultery with Drusilla; therefore, this lesson on self-control was very appropriate for the occasion. Felix was one who practiced immorality and satisfied his unbridled lust. What can be said about Felix can also be said about many in today’s world. Beyond a shadow doubt, the Bible teaches that one should have control of the appetites and passions of the body. One has defined self-control as “One who holds himself in.” Another has written that self-control is “reasons’ girdle as well as passions’ bridle.” It is indeed difficult to be guided by what we know rather than by what we want. Among the other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, self-control is mentioned (Galatians 5:23). Paul commands, by the Holy Spirit, the Christian to “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Peter exhorts brethren to grow spiritually by adding to their lives such attributes as “self-control” (1 Peter 1:5-11). If a man can control himself, he is indeed greater than one who can take a city by force (Proverbs 16:32).

    The apostle Paul spoke of “the judgment to come.” One must realize and understand that a day is coming in which all of life’s conduct must be perfectly appraised by the Lord; and, that divine justice will be meted out upon those who have followed their own willful ways of sin. One of the cardinal doctrines of the Holy Scriptures is that of the second advent of Jesus Christ, who, at that time will be supreme Judge (Matthew 25:31-46). “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked, but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained” (Acts 16:30-31). At the judgment, each person will have to give account of himself (Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:10). Surely the solemn contemplation of a coming judgment should motivate each one to prepare himself/herself for such an event. If such were done, there would be a great effort to obey the Lord in doctrinal and moral matters. Oh, how the world needs sermons like the one Paul preached to Felix relative to righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come!

    To every sermon, there is a response, whether it is positive or negative. The Bible states that Felix was terrified. The King James Version said that he “trembled.” Felix was not ignorant of the truth. In fact, he had a “more exact knowledge concerning the way” (Acts 24:22). Nothing could be more terrifying than to speak of righteousness to a man of such iniquity; of temperance in all things to a man of unbridled lust; or to drive home what was said on these topics by depicting the judgment to come. The terror which seized Felix was the beginning necessary to change a life; but lust and ambition smothered the kindling fires of conscience. Therefore, it is probable that preaching will often change the feelings of a person without truly changing the heart.

    Felix was guilty of the grave mistake of procrastination. He told Paul to “Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me” (Acts 24:25). Procrastination is called the “thief of time.” A man has nothing but the passing moment. Felix is typical of the millions whose spiritual life is ruined by putting off matters until a later date. Here are three reasons against delaying obedience to the Gospel. First, it is a guilty thing. “I will when” means “I will not now.” It is rebellion of spirit put in the least flagrant form, but it still a state of sin. Second, procrastination is a delusive thing. We think we will be willing to do the right thing later on, but outward hindrances tend to become stronger than weaker; life becomes more complicated, and inward and spiritual obstacles become more difficult to surmount. We should be aware of the “deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Third, it is a fatal thing. If vice has slain its thousands, and pride its thousands, surely procrastination has slain its tens of thousands.

    Archias, a supreme magistrate of the city of Thebes, was seated at a feast, surrounded by friends, when a courier arrived in a great haste, with letters containing an account of conspiracy formed against him. “My Lord,” said the messenger, “the person who wrote these letters conjure you to read them immediately, being serious things.” “Serious things tomorrow,” replied Archias, laughing, and he put the letters under his pillow. This delay was fatal. The conspirators that evening rushed into the banquet room, and put the careless Archias, without all his guests, to the sword. As far as the divine record is concerned, Felix never found that convenient season. He had to appear before Caesar later to answer charges of corruption in his government. Drusilla and her son by Felix later perished in the eruption of Vesuvius, which also engulfed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. These souls, along with others, will face the Lord in judgment and give account of the deeds done in this life. How sad for people, who know the way, to postpone their obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While the mercy of God lingers, one should, as a penitent believer be immersed into Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).

Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20