For two years Felix often sent for Paul to talk with him. Not because he was seeking the truth, but because he was hoping for a bribe (Acts 24:26-27). And I imagine the repeated conversations weren’t a lot unlike that first conversation.
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. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
(Acts 24:24-26 ESV)
Paul spoke about faith in Christ with the Felixes. He reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. And Felix was, literally, “thrown into fear.”
So, I’m thinking, as Paul talked about faith in Christ, he didn’t just talk about the righteousness to be found in Christ. Nor only the self-control that was available as fruit from an indwelling Holy Spirit. Or the victory that would come for everyone who had faith in Christ Jesus when He returned for the coming judgment. But I’m guessing Paul talked candidly with Felix and wife about their own righteousness . . . or lack thereof. And their own self-control . . . which they had cast off. And the coming judgment of their sin . . . which was certain without Someone else bearing the penalty for that sin. And Felix was alarmed.
Paul preached the good news without skirting over the bad news. They were sinners in need of a Savior. In bondage to the flesh unless freed through faith. Corrupt unless converted. Destined for judgment apart from justification.
We’d rather talk about having a relationship with the Creator. Of brokenness mended. Of wholeness realized. All true when it comes to incentives for receiving Christ. But sometimes we also need to talk candidly of righteousness, or the lack thereof; self-control, or the lack thereof; and the certain judgment to come, and the fear thereof.
Paul spoke the truth and he spoke it in love. But he spoke all the truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good news of the cross, the bad news of our sin, the ugly news of judgment. For he sought to persuade the Felixes towards faith in Christ.
And how did Felix respond?
When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
(Acts 2:27 ESV)
Paul had been faithful, but Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor. Paul had stewarded the gospel entrusted to him, yet Felix stuck to the corrupt ways which enslaved him. Not a happy ending here.
Unless I consider myself, by God’s grace, as the anti-type of Felix. Because of faith in Christ, possessing a righteousness not my own. Because of the promise of the gospel, empowered with self-control through the indwelling Spirit. Because of the salvation of the cross, without fear of the judgment to come. Reminded that, by God’s grace, when I heard the good news, rather than responding, “Go away,” I was gifted the faith to cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
A little bit to chew on here.
By His grace. For His glory.