In chapter 23 of the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul was hustled out of Jerusalem and placed in protective custody after an uproar in the Temple and a plot to kill him became known. Learning that Paul was a Roman citizen, a Roman army officer by the name of Claudius Lysias, conveyed Paul to the Roman fortress at Caesarea late at night. To ensure Paul’s safe arrival there, the officer sent a contingent of 200 foot soldiers, 70 cavalry soldiers, and 300 spear men to bring Paul safely to the Roman Procurator, a fellow named Felix. Felix was married to a Jewish woman named Drusilla, who was the great grand daughter of Herod the Great.
Prosecutors, who included the Jewish High Priest, Ananias and an orator by the name of Tertullus, soon followed and brought charges against Paul in the presence of the Roman Governor. The particular false charges and Paul’s defense are found in Acts 24.
Felix heard both sides of the case and told Paul privately that he would make a decision on his fate at a later date. Several days later, when Drusilla joined her Roman husband, the two sought an audience with Paul to hear more from him regarding the Christian “Way”. The Apostle never missed an opportunity to share the Gospel, and this was an opportunity to tell the Roman Procurator and his Jewish wife, three simple things that truly matter most.
Dr. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, tells us very simply in Acts 24:25 that Paul reasoned with them regarding “righteousness, self control, and judgment to come”. I think there is a very simple, yet important lesson here for all of us who would seek to be more effective witnesses for Christ, when given opportunity to share our faith.
These few words (righteousness, self control, and judgment) make the simple outline of three concepts that every human must consider. The first involves the problem of “yesterday’s sins”. We know from the scriptures that “there is none righteous, no not one!” How then may sinful men and women come into relationship with a Holy God? This comes only through the righteousness of Christ being imputed to those who would accept Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. (2 Cor 5:21)
Secondly, Paul spoke of “self control”. This deals with “today’s temptations”. Warren Wiersbe writes “Man is able to control almost everything but himself.” Isn’t that the truth? Not only can we save ourselves from the penalty of yesterday’s sins, in our own power we are helpless against temptation today. Again, Jesus Christ is the only answer to that problem. Apart from the power and indwelling of His presence in our lives, we are hopeless in the face of what Paul speaks of thirdly – the Judgment to come.
As Paul shared these truths, the power of the Holy Spirit overcame the Roman Governor. He may have been Caesar’s representative in the province of Judea, but when he heard the message of the Gospel delivered by a man of God, the Bible tells us Felix “trembled”. A more accurate translation is “he became terrified”. My friends, that is the power of the Gospel when shared under the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit.
Although frightened, Felix did what many people today do. He procrastinated. How sad. Further reading tells us that Felix thought he might be able to extort some money (bribery) from Paul, and he left the Apostle held in custody for two years!
Felix told Paul that he would hear him again at “a more convenient time”. There are many who will turn us off with a similar excuse. However the scriptures tell us there is no better time to hear and react to the Gospel than right now. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”. (2 Cor 6:2)
This brief history lesson reminds me that the simple message of Paul goes right along with the “A,B,C’s of Salvation” that we teach our children. “A” Admit our sin, and our need of a Savior. “B” Believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again for us. He takes up residence in the life of every believer and provides the power we need to face the enemy of our souls. “C” Confess Him as your Savior and Lord. “For with the heart, man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation”.
Most of our congregation knows I like to add that 4th letter to the equation. “D” Do it now!
As we enter this blessed Christmas season, let us not just relegate Jesus to the little baby in the manger. Let us use this God given opportunity to remind others “What It's All About”.