“After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present” (Acts 24:24-25a)
The Apostle Paul has been incarcerated for his faith! I know that there are many thousands of believers around the world who are experiencing this today, but here in the UK that’s not a common experience. That should make us pause and consider how we would respond.
After some time, the Apostle Paul has the opportunity to speak to Felix (not the cat) a mover and shaker of his day. How would you handle this situation? Would you try and curry favour with him? Would you look to deploy all your smooth-talking powers with the hope of getting out of prison? I suspect this would be a huge temptation for me if I ever found myself in this situation. However, notice how the Apostle Paul approaches this conversation. Essentially he dives into the deep end and speaks about “faith in Christ Jesus”. However, we also get the Apostle Paul’s bullet points from this conversation. Firstly, he speaks about righteousness which is the absolute standard demanded by our Holy God (see Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet 1:15-16). He’s showing Felix that no amount of power or influence will cut the mustard in the presence of a Holy God. Secondly, he speaks about self-control which is our response to God’s holy standard. We see this going horribly wrong in the garden of Eden. God says to Adam and Eve “live this way” and lacking self-control, they choose a different path, the path to “dying this way”. After the Apostle Paul has shown Felix God’s holy and absolute standard, he then explains our failure to live up to this standard, he shows that the final and ultimate result of God’s righteousness and our lack of self-control is “the coming judgement”. This is the right and just response of a holy God to the unholy actions of a ‘lacking in self-control’ people. Notice how Felix responds. He’s alarmed!
What a brave and courageous response from the Apostle Paul. He has unsettled Felix’s status quo and showed him the true and eternal trajectory of his life. Obviously the gospel does not end there! In fact, if it did end there it would not be gospel (good news) at all but only bad news. However, as I read this story, I want to ask myself and you a couple of questions?
- When I’m talking about sharing the gospel with others, do I ever speak about righteousness, our response, and God’s looming judgement?
- Opening the question up even further, when I speak about the gospel do I even know what the gospel is?
This is one of the reasons why this term I’m running a book club looking at What is the Gospel? It’s to try and help numbers of people at Kingsgate grasp more clearly the true gospel message and then to have the courage to share it! Click the link to find out where you can access the book that we will be using.
I pray that you would give me more opportunities to speak about you and the courage to share the full gospel, which does include righteousness, sin and looming judgement. Would you help me to speak courageously, regardless of the other person’s response. Amen