Summary: Those whose hearts are devoted to the gospel, display its power when they are subjected to trouble, persecution, and sorrow. The power of the gospel that entered into the heart of the apostle Paul must have been extremely strong, because it could never b
Paul’s Sermon Before Felix
"And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."—Acts 24:25.
Those whose hearts are devoted to the gospel, display its power when they are subjected to trouble, persecution, and sorrow. The power of the gospel that entered into the heart of the apostle Paul must have been extremely strong, because it could never be driven out of him. He suffered greatly for the gospel; he lost all he had, but he considered it as nothing, so that he might win some for Christ. He spread the gospel, but it cost him; he suffered hardships, shipwrecks, danger on land, and hazards at sea, but none of these things affected him, and neither did he hold his life dear to him, because his desire was to win Christ and to be found in Him. Persecution followed persecution; he was beaten by the Jews with rods; he was dragged from one court to another; there was hardly a city where restraints and imprisonment wasn’t waiting for him. He was attacked in his own country-he was accused at Jerusalem, and arraigned at Cesarea; he was taken from one court to another to be tried for his life. He proclaimed the gospel before his judges, and he preached it in prison. One day, when he stood before the Sanhedrin, he shouted, “You are judging me today because I believe that people will rise from the dead!” When he is made to appear before King Agrippa, he spoke so sweetly of the grace of God, that the king himself said, “You have almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” Here in our text, when he stands before Felix, the Roman official, to be tried for his life, instead of making a defense for himself, he preaches about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, until Felix trembles and sends him away. Once a man believes the gospel and determines to spread it, it makes him an impressive man. He may lack power, intelligence and talent, but God will bless his conscientious desire to serve Christ in what little measure he can do it. But if he is a gifted man, the gospel will set his soul on fire, bring out all of his power, develop everything that lies hidden, bring all his intellectual abilities to the surface, displaying it all to the honor of Christ, who bought it all with his blood.
We could stay a little while and expand on this thought, and show you how, down through the ages, this has been the truth, that the power of the gospel has amply showed its influence over men’s hearts, proving the truth of that declaration by Paul, when he said, that neither tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, shall separate them from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ their Lord. But instead, I invite you to look at the text more closely. Here in Paul’s words is a picture containing three characters: Felix and Drusilla setting side by side on the judgment-seat; and Paul, the prisoner, brought in chains, to explain to Felix and Drusilla the doctrines of the Christian faith; and he will either be acquitted or put to death. Felix was a judge who was extremely willing to put him to death, because he wanted to please the Jews. On the other hand, there is Paul, a prisoner, unashamed, who comes before the judge, and without and deliberation begins to preach the gospel. The judge trembles, hastily dismisses the prisoner, and promises to meet with him again, when it is more convenient.
Note with me, first, the appropriate sermon; second, the affected audience-because the audience was certainly moved-“Felix trembled!” Then third, note that there was regrettable disappointment. Instead of receiving the message, all Paul got was, “Go thy way.”
First, then, let’s consider that there was an APPROPRIATE SERMON. But before we hear the sermon, let’s look at the life of Felix. Felix began life as a slave; he was freed by a man named Claudius, and he became one of the emperor’s favorites. Of course, in that capacity, he catered to his master’s vices, and was always prepared to indulge every lustful wish of his evil heart. His faithful service led to promotions through the ranks of the Roman government, until he was finally appointed Governor of Judea. As governor, he committed every act of extortion that it was possible for him to commit. He went so far that the emperor Nero was obliged to recall him, and he would have been severely punished for his crimes, if it wasn’t for the influence of his brother Pallas. The preaching of Paul, about righteousness was very appropriate, considering the immorality of Felix. Felix had been an unjust extortioner, and Paul purposely selected righteousness to be a topic of his sermon. Drusilla set by Felix’s side, and in the verse preceding out text, she is called his wife. She was described as a Jewess. She was the daughter of Herod Agrippa; and she was noted for her charms and beauty. At one time she had been engaged to a man named Antioch, who refused to marry her. After that, she was married to Azizus, The king of Amesenes, who although he was a heathen, submitted to the rights of the Jewish religion in order to marry her. Drusilla didn’t return his love, because shortly after their marriage, she left him for Felix. It’s understandable then, why Paul looked at her sternly, when he spoke about self-control. He publicly reprimanded both Felix and Drusilla for their shameless lust. And then, wasn’t it appropriate that in this court, where Felix is the judge and Paul the prisoner, that the last theme of his sermon was the judgment to come.