Acts #96 (chapter 24:24-27)
The Book of Acts
Paul's Trial before Felix, Part 4
Acts 24:24-27
Even though we are studying about the defense of Paul to the charges that were brought against him from the Jews in Jerusalem, tonight I really want to focus on Felix, the Roman governor before whom he appeared.
Paul has been charged with sedition, heresy and sacrilege against God and the temple. We've heard the charges and his defense. Tonight we will look at the decision that Felix makes regarding the case.
verse 24-27
When we last checked in, Felix has decided to postpone his judgment until he can talk to the Roman centurion from Jerusalem who had been involved in all the activity there that led up to the trial.
And apparently, according to what we read in verse 24, a few days pass, and Felix and his wife, Drusilla, decide to have Paul come and share about his faith.
There are a lot of little details packed in that verse. We find ought Felix is married to a Jewish woman and for whatever reason, they are interested in Christianity.
Maybe Felix had some exposure to Christianity from Drusilla. We don't know for sure, but there is some speculation that she was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, who was Herod who is some prominent in the New Testament.
If so, then he would’ve been very familiar with the beginnings of Christianity. After all, it was spreading like wildfire in spite of persecution and opposition from the Jews.
But for whatever reason, what a great opportunity to find out about Christianity with the leading missionary and evangelist of the day having been dropped into their lap! So they decide to call for Paul to come and visit with them about his faith.
And Paul, I'm sure was more than happy to accommodate them! In fact, verse 24 tells us that's exactly what he did. He spoke with them concerning the faith.
The phrasing there indicates that he gave them the content of the gospel. He was not just trying to convince them to be saved, although I think that was involved. It says what he said was "concerning the faith in Christ."
  1. gave them a theology lesson regarding Christianity. That means he covered things like the deity of Christ, that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life marked by miracles. told them about Him dying of the cross for the sins of man and His resurrection from the grave on the third day.
He told then all the facts of the gospel. That’s the faith. By the way, that's what Jude was talking about when he encouraged his hearers to, “Contend for the faith”. It is our statement of faith, what we believe, the truth, not only about salvation, but everything associated with it.
Paul spoke and Felix and Drusilla listened. And as he spoke, according to verse 25, he make it personal. He talked about man's responsibility to accept the faith and embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior and the consequences of not doing that, and in particular, he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come.
Why did he mention those three things in particular? Well, those three things are essential to an adequate presentation of the gospel. Righteousness is God’s standard. To be acceptable to God, we must be holy and righteous. In fact, God demands perfection.
And unfortunately, we don't measure up. We "fall short of the glory of God".
The second word is self-control. That's man’s required response. God has an absolute ideal. You must be righteous and to meet that standard, you must control yourself. And once again, we can't do it. We fall short of God's righteousness, and there is nothing we can do to help ourselves.
And that's where the third word comes in and that is "judgment".
So, he told Felix, “Here’s God’s requirement, and God demands that you conform to it.” And if you don’t, you will stand under the judgment of God.
That’s the gospel. God has an absolute standard, and you must conform to it or be judged. And when Felix heard that, it scared him to death!
The righteous demand of God was enough to make him tremble! And apparently, Felix had no self-control at all. He was sitting there with a woman that he’d stolen and seduced. His life was a debauchery.
And now Paul walks into the mess of Felix's life and starts talking about holiness and righteousness and judgment and here sits Felix, even thought he was a powerful, influential man, he is living way below that standard, and the conviction of God just began to crush him.
And because Paul has shared the faith with him, he suddenly comes face-to-face with the fact that he must either trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross or stand under the judgment of God. There are no other alternatives.
By the way, in John 16:8 we are told that Spirit of God came to convict man "sin, righteousness, and judgment to come”. It's the same three things! Righteousness is God's ideal, sin is our ability to measure up, and judgment that comes.
That's exactly what happened with Felix. Paul takes advantage of the opportunity to talk about the faith, He doesn't hold back or pull punches. He shoots straight and shares the gospel, and when he does, the Holy Spirit shows up to bring conviction concerning the truth of the gospel.
That ought to give us some encouragement to share the gospel when we have the opportunity, amen? Listen: God wants people to be saved and if we'll just talk about the faith, the Holy Spirit will show up to do what only He can do!
Well, that really got to Felix. The New King James is a little weak in its handling of verse 25 when it says, Felix was afraid". KJV says he "trembled", and in the Greek, it says he "shuddered". He was visibly shaken! Now remember, Felix is a grown man with major responsibilities in the Roman Empire, and yet when Paul and the Holy Spirit drive the gospel deep into his understanding, he trembled under the conviction of sin and the promise of judgment.
You might say, "But isn't that good?" Yes it is! IT is good. But it's not adequate. Notice what happened:
verse 25b
Now think about all the possible ways he could have responded. He could have said, “I don't want to live like this! I want to be forgiven. I want to accept God's gift of salvation in Jesus Christ."
He could have said, "That's ridiculous! You're just using scare tactics to make converts. Get back to your room!"
But instead, he said, “Not now. Maybe a better time will come along and we'll talk again."
Bad choice! As long as he was shaken, he was doing all right. But it wasn’t long till he stopped trembling, and pretty soon, when he heard Paul talk, it didn’t mean a thing to him. You know what happens? If you resist the moving of God, it'll get easier to resist next time. That’s why Paul said to the Corinthians, “Don't harden your heart! Today is the day of salvation. Call on Him while He is near.”
In fact, I would think it is better for a man to be hostile to the gospel than to be where Felix is. At least you know where that man is and what is his relationship to God. But for the person who hangs around the church and is all friendly with God's crowd and sticks his head in every so often, but never commits to Christ, the familiarity can begin to convince him that God likes him all right just like he is.
And for the person who is always coming or going to come or knows what he needs to do but never comes and never does it, there awaits an awfully punishment and judgment.
By the way, that's what Felix did. Notice,
verse 26
He was hopeful that Paul would try to buy his way out of prison so he began to visit with Paul on a frequent basis. He spent a lot of time hanging with Paul. And he sold his soul to the devil, and as far as we know, he never trembled again.
Isn't that sad? To be that close to salvation and heaven and God, and never experience it! This verse lead us to believe that over the course of two years, Felix and Paul visited often. And you know what Paul talked about!
And then, after that two years was up,
verse 27
Felix gets in trouble and loses his position, and the opportunity is gone. It’s the sad story of a man who, in an attempt to get money from Paul, forfeited what really mattered and lost everything.
He's like a lot of people today. They come to church or hear the gospel. They visit with a friend and get close to being saved. But for whatever reason, they never do. Oh, they're going to do it someday, but that convenient season never comes.
If that's you, come while you're trembling!
Let's pray
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