Summary: Exposition of Acts 24:22-27 about Felix’s missed opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved
Text: Acts 24:22-27, Title: Missed Opportunity, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/31/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Use Judas as another biblical example of one who had immeasurable opportunity (do a slideshow of the 12 disciples that the parents can recite with their children)
B. Background to passage: Remind about Paul’s capture, riots, transport, and defense of the gospel, etc. Our text today contains the ruling (or really the lack of a ruling) from Felix about Paul’s case. And then we will see the richness of the opportunity that Felix had to hear the gospel, and response in saving faith. All of us in this room have had or will have the opportunity to respond to the gospel, my prayer is that it turns out better.
C. Main thought: Felix had the opportunity of a lifetime to hear the gospel, interact with one of the greatest teachers ever, and embrace Christ, but he missed it.
A. Peer pressure and politics (v. 22, 27)
1. One of the hurdles in Felix’s way to the gospel was that of peer pressure and politics. It was time for a decision in Paul’s case, and his intent was to delay. He gave the reason that he would wait for Lysias to come down and give an unbiased opinion. A couple of clues tip his real motivation for us. There is no record that he sent for Lysias over the course of the next two years. Also, if you recall, Lysias had already sent an explanatory letter that stated that Paul had done nothing worthy of death, and that all these things were only questions of Jewish law, not Roman violations. But Felix knew that Paul was innocent, but if he released him, it would anger the Jewish leaders, and possibly get him removed as governor. Keeping Paul imprisoned but not convicted kept things from getting worse. He said one thing, and did another because of his fear of man.
3. Illustration: illustrate manipulation and impure or ulterior motives with the daughters in the room, ask them how they prepare to ask for things that they want, memorize Pro 29:25 together with congregation, I heard a story about a 98 year old man who had been a Christian for years and years. He was 98 years old and someone asked him, "Is it easier to live the Christian life NOW, than when you were younger?" And this old Christian gentleman thought for a moment and then replied, "Well, there is a whole lot less peer pressure." I recently heard a story about a high school football player who was a Christian. He was a big fellow and a great athlete. He led his team to the best season they had ever had and won many awards. He was being interviewed and the reporter asked him this question, “You know you have the reputation of being a devout Christian. Isn’t it hard o be a devout Christian with all the peer pressure you face?” And he said “Ma’am, I am the peer pressure.”
4. How often do we compromise because of our fear of man. Fear of man is at the root of peer pressure and politics too. We alter our behavior, speech, attitudes, and decisions based upon the reaction of those around us. Let’s take the clothing we wear. Do we evaluate it on how it glorifies Christ, what others might think about it? Now, there are times when we must consider others reactions so as not to be a stumbling block, but I am talking about trying to keep up with the latest styles, being embarrassed because that skirt is so last year! How many of our teens can tell you exactly what the latest styles are, but can’t tell you what the general idea of Lamentations is? One of their arguments might have been a threat that “everyone” in Jerusalem will be angry if you do _______________. Do you live your life in the fear of man? It may not be clothing style or alcohol that you are pressured about; maybe it is interoffice politics, or worse, interchurch politics, or it may be your witness (or lack thereof) to your friends, neighbors, and family members.
B. The Full Gospel (v. 24-25a)
1. While Felix delayed, Paul got the opportunity to share the gospel with him. Felix has lured away a Jewish bride from her first husband, and the knowledge of “The Way” that he had, he probably had from her. And so over the next two years, Paul spoke often with this Roman ruler. The word used is “reasoned” which means that he had intelligent dialogue and discussion. The text says that he spoke to him concerning faith in Christ, righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. And there is indication here that the Spirit was convicting. Felix became afraid. What is so frightening about the gospel? What is the gospel? Explain faith, explain righteousness, self-control, and judgment as they relate to the gospel and as they relate to every person in the room.