A Man With Fear But No Faith
Text: Acts 24:22-27
After his third missionary journey and Paul’s return to Jerusalem, such was the divisive nature of Paul and the message he preached, he finds himself taken to Caesarea for his own safety to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall by Felix, the Roman Governor of Judea.
Five days later, the High Priest and other jewish leaders arrive to make accusations against Paul. This gave Paul the opportunity to speak, and it appears that Felix warmed to Paul, realizing his innocence and integrity, so much so that he begins to hear Paul in private.
v24 – “he heard Paul concerning the faith in Christ”
v25 – he reasoned with righteousness, temperance, and judgement to come. Clearly the Spirit of God was upon Paul as he ministered the Word, as this is what Jesus said would happen in Jn 16:8.
On the particular occasion we’re given here, something happened to Felix as he listened to the Word. He trembled. He began to fear. He began to grasp the implications of Paul’s message, and the responsibility to give up his sin and believe on Christ, brought him to a state of mental turmoil.
History records that Felix was notorious for his sin and wickedness, and after working his way to such a prestigious office, eventually died in poverty and shame. Thus, we know that for a moment he gave serious consideration to the gospel, he ultimately rejected it and probably died an unbeliever.
It’s not enough to be emotionally moved or convicted. You must respond in fleeing to Christ.
I. THE SERMON HE HEARD
What was it Felix heard? v24 “the faith in Christ” i.e. either what faith in Christ is, or his need to put his faith in Christ.
The message is focused upon the person and work of Christ, but it must be applied to your heart in such a way that you understand your responsibility to believe it in order to be saved.
Felix heard this, trembled, and yet did not get saved.
1. Your Legal Position – “righteousness”
i.e. Paul explained to Felix his need for righteousness, and I want to do the same. You see righteousness is the very thing you need because it’s the greatest thing you lack. You lack a righteousness that is sufficient to satisfy a God who is holy.
If you are ever to be in heaven, you need a righteousness that meets God’s standard. And that’s what Christ has obtained for those who believe in Him. That’s what a Christian is, someone who possesses Christ’s righteousness. And you have desperate need of that my unsaved friend.
You’re not a Christian unless you have Christ’s righteousness. It’s not about baptism, or church membership, or nationality, or family name. There’s nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who endeavours to make themselves look good. Those willing, like the lawyer Christ spoke to, who like to justify themselves. Let me make this crystal clear, unless you have a righteousness that is without blemish, your eternity is worse than bleak.
2. Your Moral Purity – “temperance” i.e. self-control in moral issues. v24 notes he was with a woman, Drusilla, who had previously been married and was the youngest daughter of the Herod referred to in Acts 12. Josephus the Jewish first century historian records that Felix wooed Drusilla away from her first husband, and while the Herods were not fully Jewish, they sought to maintain a façade of Jewishness, and her adultery would not have been encouraged.
This couple were living in willful disobedience, and you are to. Perhaps you aren’t sleeping around, perhaps you are. But whatever the case, you have your own sins and they are as a stench before God. Your moral character is broken and impure. Your heart is needs to be changed, and God promises a new heart to those who believe in Jesus Christ.
3. Your Deserved Punishment – “judgement to come”
i.e. your standing on the final day. He who was a magistrate, now finds himself being brought before his own judgement. Perhaps Paul made it clear to him that the Judge he would stand before could not be bribed or bent. That he deals in perfect justice, meeting out what each man deserves according to his works, and Felix trembled at the thought of that. Let me ask you, do you tremble? Have you any concern of the judgement to come? What will be your punishment?
Heb 2:3 “how shall ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation?” How? Christ is the only Saviour? What are you going to do with your sin?
II. THE SINS HE COMMITTED
What a picture this is of the power of sin. That a man can be logically convinced of gospel realities to the point he trembles at those realities, and yet chooses sin over the safety of Jesus.
1. He sought to silence the preacher “go thy way”
Preaching is one of the most blessed experiences in this life.
2. He sought to select the time “when I have a convenient season…”
He misjudged the timing. He thought it wasn’t the right time – v25. But how wrong he was.
Perhaps you have felt the work of the Spirit upon your heart? Perhaps you’re sensing it now? Listen, if there’s only one thing you do before you leave it is to get saved! Don’t delay. Don’t expect another opportunity. Don’t presume upon tomorrow. Don’t imagine another chance. “Now is the day of salvation.”
If you think you have the right to delay on your salvation when God calls all men everywhere to repent, you have a very distorted view of God. Have you not wasted enough time? What age are you? 35? You’ve lived half your life, and that’s if you ever see 70.
III. THE SALVATION HE SPURNED v26
I believe this text shows that he spurned salvation for the final time that day. That Felix never had another opportunity. He sought to release Paul in return for money from the church. Felix tonight is in hell. He perished in sin. He died without mercy. What about you?