Gospel: Paul Preaching to Felix

There was a predictable tension in the courtroom as the governor, Felix, took his place. A young Jewess, in her late teens, sat beside him and looked with interest at the unruffled prisoner. Her husband had ruled Judea for several years and had a good idea what he might hear today.

In Acts 24, when Paul began to speak, Felix was not surprised how quickly the issue of right and wrong was raised. This issue is God’s part in spiritual matters, and He has determined the boundaries for our behavior. Sin occurs when we push against divine boundaries, when we do things “my way.” Felix knew full well that he had pushed aside boundaries of every color in his rise to power.

Then Paul spoke of self-control, temperance. That is our part. We respond to the boundaries and determine our actions and restraints, if any. Felix was not known for restraint; he simply did whatever he wanted. For example, his wife Drusilla was only sixteen when he enticed her from her real husband. History records his play on words, something like, “I’m Felix and ‘felicity’ will be yours if you come to me.” Is life just a big party, without consequences?

Paul moved on to one more topic: “judgment to come.” Because judgment is not immediate, apathy, like a weed, takes root in this soil of God’s patience.  Likely you know the feeling. But the delay is just an opportunity for grace to work. Soon the sunny days of unappreciated grace will bring us to tomorrow’s solemn day of harvest dealing with yesterday’s sins.

Felix was more accustomed to having his ears tickled by favor seekers, but today his conscience warned him that he was hearing truth. It was unwelcome but not unclear. The crossroads lay before him that day. We’ve all been there – and we have to choose. A hundred ideas ran through Felix’s mind, and he shuffled thoughts one way and the other. Even before he spoke, he knew in his heart that he was making a bad decision. But in this courtroom he also was a prisoner; self-glory controlled him, not self-control. “Not now,” he said, “Later. When it’s more convenient.”

Life moved on for him, as it has for you. He had one more tomorrow, then another. He got used to that pattern. He even got to speak to the preacher again. Wishful thinking whispered it would go on forever. It didn’t. He’s been gone for centuries. But where? For him it is no longer a “judgment to come.” It came and maybe unexpectedly. Often enough, it happens that way: a fall, the flu, a flaw. It also came for Drusilla, in a volcanic eruption. It wasn’t in her schedule.

Dear reader, yesterday’s sins will sooner or later encounter “judgment to come.” It would be far better to encounter the grace of our Lord Jesus first. You know His story; you know why He came. Don’t resist Him. Eternity is too long a time to call yourself a fool.

“The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1Jn 4:14).