But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off (for a while)…After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla (who was Jewish) and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgement, Felix was alarmed and said: “Go away for the present, when I get an opportunity I will summon you…” (And 2 years passed until a new proconsul took Felix’s place without another hearing)… (Excerpts from Acts 24:22-25)
I have noticed that Paul’s methodology stands out over all of Acts. I wonder why my mental picture of me is demanding declaration and not a reasonable, persuasive follower of Christ.
I think this particular passage is kind of cool.
Felix (Luke noted) was pretty knowledgeable about the Way of Christ. Not just knowledgeable but accurately knowledgeable: the guy had some props… It didn’t change his life though, just piling on sterile studies.
So here is the scene: Felix wanted more one on one with Paul. Why? Beat’s me but perhaps Felix wanted to spar with Paul—after all, Felix is pretty smart about Christianity, maybe more than a match for Paul. And, maybe preen before his wife, Drusilla? A strong possibility…
But then Paul speaks and checks out the subjects: Righteousness (check, I could do that), the coming Judgement (check, no brainer)—but the one in the middle, Self-Control (huh? How did that one sneak in there?)…
Have I ever, ever, thought about the Gospel and the Kingdom and Self-Control in the same sentence? Try this: “And I proclaim the Gospel to you: Be self-controlled!!” I am sure that Paul was way smoother and knitted Righteousness and the Coming Judgement in a coherent way. But here is the cool part: After that discourse “Felix was alarmed…” and not only that sent Paul away to the prison cell for 2 more years, avoiding any more contact.
So how does this apply to me, the face in the mirror? A couple of ways:
1. I don’t have to be a particular caricature of a stereotypical preacher. I can learn about the Gospel thoroughly and talk into the mirror to start: Learn how to preach/talk about the Gospel to myself.
2. Every subject found in the Word of God is interrelated with the Gospel—not “to” the Gospel but with the Gospel—like a beautiful tapestry.
3. To “reason” and be “persuading” takes more than being a verse quoter. It takes familiarity with the precepts, principles, and doctrines of the Bible and of the Way—no little task.
Spurgeon: “The most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the gospel.” If I want to be prepared for telling about the Hope in me, there is no better place than talking about the Gospel to myself first.
Lord God: Thank you for burning this precept into my heart. I do not want to be the learner of sterile words, words that don’t have life pulsating through them. Please answer my prayer…AMEN.