(Acts 24) Convenience or Conviction?

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Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you. (Acts 24:25)

Introduction

Paul was rescued from the Jewish high priest and elders in Jerusalem by the Roman commander. When the Jewish leaders threatened Paul's life, the Romans had 470 soldiers, horsemen, and spearmen take him in the middle of the night to the city of Caesarea to be kept in safety until his trial. In Acts 24 we read of Paul's defense before Governor Felix.

The Jewish leaders came from Jerusalem to speak against Paul to the Governor. They even had a trained speaker (orator) to give their so-called "evidence" against Paul! Tertullus gave his speech, which is recorded in verses 2 to 9. Then, Paul gives his defense.

What did Paul say to Governor Felix that was important then and to us today?

1 Follow "The Way" (Follow Jesus) verse 14

2 Believe God's Law and Prophets (Believe the Bible)

Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17

3 Hope in God

Our faith rests on the fact that Jesus is alive. (verse 15 says, "There will e a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust."

4 Keep a Clear Conscience before God and people.

We CAN have a clear conscience by God's grace!

What response did Felix make?

Paul said all these things to Felix and it says that Felix had "more accurate knowledge of The Way."

Felix put off a decision about Paul and wanted to wait until Commander Lysias came. He gave Paul some freedoms and said Paul's friends could visit and provide for him. After some time, Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla asked for Paul to come and explain more about his faith in Christ. What an opportunity! Governor Felix asked Paul about his faith! Paul spoke to Felix about "righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come."

What was Felix' decision?

"Now as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, 'Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."

What kept Felix from making a decision about Jesus?

When Paul spoke about "righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come," he hit a "raw nerve" in Felix. It mentions the name of Drusilla, the Jewish wife of Felix. One reason it mentions the fact that his wife was Jewish, is that this distinguished her from another wife Felix had by the same name! (In fact, Felix had 3 wives. Imagine having two wives with the same name!)

The only reason Felix had this Jewish wife was because he stole her away from her own husband through the use of a magician! (A. Clarke)

So, when Paul spoke of righteousness and self-control, he touched on the raw nerve with Felix. There were undoubtedly other areas in Felix' life that also pricked his conscience. When Paul reminded Felix that one day there is a judgment to face, Felix responded "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." He kept Paul in custody for 2 more years while he procrastinated about what to do with him. In that time he called for Paul to talk with him about his faith in Jesus. But there is no indication in the Bible or in history that Felix ever came to faith.

Do you live by convenience or by conviction?

Do you put off a decision about serving Jesus? What are you doing about Jesus in your life? When you are convicted about sin in your life - do you put off doing something about it? Do you live by convenience or conviction? Do you take a stand for Jesus, and put Him first in all areas of your life, or do you do whatever is convenient?

Do you worship the Lord when it is "convenient" or out of conviction? We need to realise once and for all that it will never be "convenient" to follow Jesus. There will always be something or someone that will be in our way of putting God first. Satan's best attack on us as followers of Jesus is not outright opposition to us but to get us to put off doing what we know we must do. That's what happened to Felix. Don't let it happen to you.

There is a song with these words: "Almost Persuaded." Felix said he'd wait until a more "convenient" time. Later, in Acts 26 we read how Festus said to Paul, "almost you persuade me to be a Christian."

"Almost" following Jesus is not enough! "Almost" is the same as "not at all!"

Are you "almost" persuaded to be a Christian?

Are you saying, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."

Just knowing about Jesus and knowing what we should do does not prepare us to meet God. We must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we belong to Jesus, that He is our personal Lord and Saviour. We must know that we are walking in obedience to Him day by day. Conviction, not "convenience." We must have an up-to-date faith, walking in the light as He is in the light." (1 John 1:9) Any of us can become side-tracked. Any of us can fall into sin. Are you playing around with temptation?

Where do you stand with Jesus.

If you died today, are you ready to stand before Him and give an account of your life? Paul spoke of judgment to come. There will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust. There IS a Heaven and a Hell.

Only Jesus can change you to make your life what He wants it to be. Not your own will power, or positive thinking, or good deeds of kindness, or anything else can change your heart. You must humble yourself before God and ask His forgiveness and ask Him to change your very heart attitude, and let Him give you a heart like His.

Don't wait for a more "convenient" time.

Open your heart and mind to Jesus NOW. And, then, keep walking by conviction, not by convenience.

Note:

Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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