AN OFFENSIVE MESSAGE
Lord, I recognize the potentially offensive nature of Your demands.
Read ACTS 24:22–27
22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
Acts contains many rich lessons on fruitful mission work. Contrary to what some believe, this final trial section is a case in point. Here Luke is attempting to maximize our effectiveness when put on the spot or even put on trial for our faith, just as Paul was. Today’s passage contains a lesson which is relevant for missions today.
After Paul has told his story publicly before Felix, he has the opportunity to speak privately with him and his wife Drusilla about faith in Christ. He discourses boldly about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. Given his spiritual state, Felix predictably becomes “afraid” and says, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you” (25). Apparently, Felix is made to confront his past life and recognizes, however briefly, the spiritual peril in which he stands. We may detect a spark of sincerity in him at this point, but this is quickly superseded by his own ambition and need for self-justification. It is remarkable how boldly Paul has confronted Felix, a man who holds Paul’s fate in his hands. Felix’s fearful and shocked response underscores the challenging nature of Paul’s message.
It is easy in our preaching to emphasize a God of unconditional love and mercy. This is a precious truth, but what about a righteous Judge who dispenses justice impartially? What about a God who holds us accountable for our actions? Surely, these are equally relevant truths. We must be careful not to shy away from those aspects of the biblical message which are inconvenient and may render us uncomfortable. The message of the cross many times is offensive.
The Gospel is good news—but alive, sharp and penetrating (cf. Heb. 4:12). May we imitate Paul and tell the full story, even the parts which may seem foolish, inconvenient or unpleasant.
Lord, give me the wisdom to know when to speak and the boldness to do it fearlessly.
Book and Author Intros
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.