GO AWAY FOR NOW
by Mike Johnson
Luke tells us in Acts 24 of a time when Paul, who had earlier been seized by the Jews, was brought before the governor of the area--a man named Felix. Charges were brought against Paul, and he presented his defense. Felix, hoping to receive a bribe, refused to let Paul go, and he kept him as a prisoner for two years. During this time, Felix and Drusilla, his wife, sent for Paul regularly to hear him preach.
On one occasion when Paul preached, we are told that he reasoned with Felix about "righteousness," "self-control," and the "judgment to come." Both Felix and Drusilla needed to hear these lessons for a number of reasons. First, Felix and Drusilla were involved in an adulterous relationship. Thus it was quite evident that he needed instruction on self-control. Further, Felix was not righteous in his relationship with God or with his fellow man. Also, Felix and Drusilla needed to realize that one day they would have to give an account of themselves to God on the Judgment Day. Paul's candor with Felix was remarkable when one recognizes Paul's dependence upon Felix for his release from prison. Many people would have said whatever Felix wanted to hear to secure their freedom. Paul, however, was interested in defending the truth and, if possible, saving the souls of Felix and Drusilla.
Consider a few observations about Paul's preaching. First, he did not simply preach what Felix wanted to hear. A person who is living in an adulterous relationship generally does not want to hear about righteousness, self-control, and the "judgment to come." Next, he obviously did not preach to please Felix. Paul did not compromise; he offered no apology, and his sermon was not so general that Felix would be unable to get the point. Finally, his sermon was clearly persuasive preaching. It was spoken in order to prompt action!
Felix, upon hearing Paul's sermon, was "afraid" (vs. 25). However, he did not ask, "What must I do to be saved?" Instead, he said, "Go away for now, when I have a convenient time I will call for you." (NKJV)
Today we need to preach as Paul did. He did not preach to please people but to please God (note also II Tim. 4:1-2). When we hear God's Word, we must obey it (Heb. 5:9) and not delay (II Cor. 6:2)!
Delay is rebellion against God. A child who tells a parent that he will obey later is actually rebelling against that parent. A person who tells God, "not now," is, in like manner, rebelling against his heavenly Father.
Delay is also very dangerous. We could die at any time; the Judgment could happen at any time. A person delaying obedience could easily be caught unprepared. There is also the strong possibility that the person who continues to reject God will eventually develop a "hardened heart"(Mt. 13:15; Heb. 3:13).
How do you respond to the preaching of God's Word? Are you willing to do everything that God tells you to do in His inspired Word, or do you simply obey when it pleases you? A person cannot be saved without becoming a Christian. To become a Christian, one must hear (Rom. 10:17); believe (Jn. 3:16), repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31), confess Christ (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16). After one becomes a Christian, he must remain faithful (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10).
We are never told that Felix responded to Paul's lessons. Most believe he did not. We must not make the same mistake. Are you telling God to "Go away for now"?
[Editors Note: Thanks to Mike Johnson for the article! Mike can be reached at: Mike Johnson, 2137 Penhall Drive NE, Huntsville, AL 35811, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Email the Editor at email@example.com
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