Summary: A message for those who are in a place that they need to make a decision or decisions that may effect how they will live the rest of their life.
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 39
“The Problem of Procrastination”
Acts 24:1-27 (key vv. 22-27)
Dr. John R. Hamby
The prophet Joel described life as a valley of decision, (Joel 3:14) “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”
Some of you may be like the central character in the story that we are going to examine tonight. You are in the valley of decision, you are in the place that you need to make some decision or decisions that may effect how you will live the rest of your life. Listen well to the story of Felix and the disastrous decision that he makes.
There are some things that men do better than women. That sounds rather chauvinistic doesn’t it? But don’t stop listening yet. One of the things that men do better than women is procrastination. Men tend to think, “Anything worth doing is worth doing tomorrow.” But the truth is that putting things off often causes additional problems.
“A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of corn in the road. The farmer who lived nearby came to investigate. "Hey, Willis," he called out, "forget your troubles for a spell and come on in and have dinner with us. Then I’ll help you get the wagon up." "That’s mighty nice of you," Willis answered, "But I don’t think Pa would like me to." "Aw, come on, son!" the farmer insisted. "Well, okay," the boy finally agreed. "But Pa won’t like it." After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host. "I feel a lot better now, but I just know Pa is going to be real upset." "Don’t be foolish!" exclaimed the neighbor. "By the way, where is he?" "Under the wagon.". [Source Unknown.}
First let me set the Stage. After leaving Jerusalem under heavy armed guard, Paul was escorted to Caesarea where he was to be arraigned before, Antonius Felix, the governor of the province. He then had to withstand the clever attacks of a lawyer named Tertullus, who had been hired by the Sanhedrin. Verse one says, “Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.”
Tertullus did not immediately immediate get to the charges against Paul, but rather began by flattering the governor saying (v. 2-4) “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, (3) we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. (4) Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.” None of this was truth. Felix had brought neither peace nor great prosperity to the nation. Instead there was constant turmoil throughout his governorship. By a mixture of outright lies and cleverly twisted half-truths, Tertullus began to accuse Paul. Instead of reading the entire account we are just going to look at the heart of the issue in verses five and six. “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. (6) He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.”
A summary of the charges brought against Paul were; (1) that he was at least in the eyes of the Jewish leadership, a real pest (v. 5). The word used suggests that Paul is like a disease that was spreading into an epidemic. (2) He stirred up unrest among the Jews world-wide (v.5) (3) He was a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarene. His choice of words were loaded with strong negative connotations; he called Paul a ringleader, and defined Christianity as a “sect”, which has the over tune of heresy, and his uses the term “Nazarene” purposefully avoiding the use of Jesus’ name. (v.5) and (4) He tried to desecrate the temple (v.6).
He went on to claim that Paul had been judged properly by their law and that the Roman centurion had intervened and taken Paul out of their hands (v. 7). This is so patently false as to be ludicrous.
When the governor indicated that Paul might speak; Paul addressed the governor with courtesy, but without the insincere flattery Tertullus had used. Paul’s defense is recorded in verses 10-21. At the real heart of the issue Paul states beginning in verse fourteen that the real charges against him are religious and not political. “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”