Saved from the ferocity of the Jewish elders who hated him, Paul was sent down to Caesarea and there in due time he appeared in the courtroom before Felix, the Roman governor. His accusers sent a deputation to Caesarea, headed by Ananias, the Jewish high priest. A man whose name indicates that he was perhaps a Gentile by birth, Tertullus, an orator or really a lawyer, came with them. He was one of those very wordy lawyers who can paint a picture to suit himself; who call good evil and evil good, and make white black and black white.
When he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse Paul, but first he praised Felix, a man whom the Jews themselves bitterly hated. With the fawning words of one seeking to curry favor, he said, “Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.”
I think Felix must have put his tongue in his cheek when he heard Tertullus speaking like this on behalf of these Jews from Jerusalem, for he knew pretty well how much they detested him. He must have known too that they were thoroughly aware of his own wicked, godless life, so that even to address him as “most noble Felix” was in itself a misnomer. He was anything but noble. This governor was a most ungodly man, one whose whole life was a reproach to the high office he held.
Tertullus proceeded to accuse Paul, and brought four charges against him, one of which was true, the other three absolutely false. He said, “We have found this man a pestilent fellow.” He used the word pestilent in the sense of a disrupter of the peace. Paul was not that. Then he accused Paul of being “a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world.” That, of course, was totally untrue. Thirdly, he declared him to be “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” That was a fact, for Paul was a Christian and Christians were called Nazarenes, after Christ their Savior who was so designated. But the fourth charge is again false: “Who also hath gone about to profane the temple”—something that Paul never even thought of doing.
Let us review these charges brought against Paul. First, they insisted that he was a pestilent fellow, a disturber of the peace. Yet this man had lived a devoted, faithful life for nearly thirty years, seeking in all his ways to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He labored with his own hands whenever there was a temporal need to be met, never depending on the church at home to support him. If they did not send what might be required to sustain him and his companions, he would simply work as a tentmaker in order to provide for the needs of himself and those working with him. But he went everywhere, witnessing, ministering Christ, and told both Jew and Gentile of the wonderful change that had come over his own life.
Paul was anything but a pestilent fellow, a disturber of the peace; unless one is speaking of the false peace in which men exist who are strangers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. These Paul tried to arouse to see their danger and to show them that they were lost and needed a Savior. The world has always been quick to say that people who preach against its ways and expose its sins and its faults are disturbers of the peace. You remember how they said before of Paul and his companions, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” There was a sense in which that was true, because through sin the world had been turned wrong side up. So Paul and his companions preached the message that turned the world right side up, and of course the devil and his followers consider that as disrupting the peace.
Satan has held men captive so long that I think none of us should be concerned about disturbing his peace. Indeed, if we are able to do something that will disrupt his peace and deliver captives from his snare, whatever charges the world may bring against us, we shall feel we have done something worthwhile and we can thank God for the privilege of doing it.
Then they charged Paul with being “a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world,” and that was very far from the truth. He never moved anybody to sedition. He always insisted, when addressing Christians, that they must be subject to the powers that be, that they must always pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).
We may see in the governments of this world things that are contrary to the mind of God, but we seek to overcome them by methods that are in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. The remarkable thing is that the preaching of the Word throughout the Roman empire was used by God to overturn many things that oppressed men and brought distress on the world. In fact, practically all of the great reforms that have occurred throughout the centuries owe their existence to the proclamation of the liberty-giving message of the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul was not a mover of sedition but, on the other hand, he was indeed well known as a “ringleader of the sect [or heresy] of the Nazarenes.” That word translated “sect,” which is also rendered “heresy” later in the chapter, really means a “school of opinions.” The followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were considered just another little, peculiar school of opinions. So the Nazarenes were contemptuously called a sect because they followed Him who was called a Nazarene.
There was a time when Paul was bitterly opposed to this group, when he as Saul of Tarsus sought to destroy everyone who preached the way of Christianity. He never forgave himself for that (1 Corinthians 15:9). But what caused the change in this man? The wonderful fact that he had a glimpse of Christ in glory. He was never the same afterward. From the very moment he was brought to know Him, he was commissioned to proclaim the faith that once he had sought to destroy. Indeed he became an outstanding leader and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, the rejected Messiah. He faithfully proclaimed the One who came in lowly grace to Israel, was refused by His own people, died on the cross for their sins, and ascended to God’s right hand.
Paul had proved the reality of the gospel message in his own life so he declared to others the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. But when they charged him with going about to “profane the temple,” that was untrue. For although he had been separated from that temple by the revelation of Jesus Christ, he always had the greatest respect for everything connected with the religion of his youth. The temple in this sense was still the house that God had established in Israel, and Paul knew that many who worshiped there had a zeal of God though not according to knowledge. He would never have thought of profaning it. In fact, at the very time he was arrested he had gone almost beyond what you might have expected of him. Knowing the high standing of the temple in Jewish thinking, he had entered the temple with several men who were just completing their days of Nazariteship. He had arranged to pay for the sacrifices that they were to offer, and he would have done so had not God Himself, I believe, intervened by causing the riot and his arrest (see Acts 21).
No, he was not a profaner of the temple. He revered and honored the God of the temple too much for that. But they did not understand. They were so bound by the shackles of legality that, when Paul came preaching salvation by the free grace of God, they could not comprehend it. They thought of him as an enemy of the old religion and an enemy of their people. Actually he was simply bringing a message that was the fulfillment of all the forms and ceremonies of the legal dispensation. He was there as the personal representative of the One who is pictured in every sacrifice ever offered on Jewish altars, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, the Jews declared that Tertullus had presented the case fairly, so Felix gave Paul an opportunity to defend himself. Notice how Paul began. He did not descend to flattering words, but said, “Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself.” In other words, he realized that Felix knew the people who were accusing him, and the strong prejudices and bigotry that characterized them; therefore Paul felt all the more ready to state his own case in the presence of this Roman judge.
He told him that just twelve days had elapsed since he went to Jerusalem, not to cause a riot or stir people up, but to worship God. No one had found him in the temple disputing with anybody, or inciting the people, nor did they find him misbehaving in the synagogues or in the city. He went about continually ministering in grace to any who were willing to listen to him. “Neither can they prove,” he said, “the things whereof they now accuse me.” But on the other hand, he acknowledged the third charge, declaring: “This I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”
I like to think of Paul standing there before that august assemblage, hiding nothing, covering nothing, majestic as he proclaimed himself a follower of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ. The Way was the term used generally in those days for Christianity, simply because the following of Jesus was taught as the way to life and blessing. And, thank God, it is, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Lord Jesus added, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
So Paul went everywhere proclaiming the Way, and we today have the same blessed privilege. We are here to tell men there is only one way to God. Men do not like that. They say something like this: “We are all trying to get to the same place. There are many different ways, but they all end up at the same place.” Who says so? Our Lord Jesus declared, “I am the way. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The apostle Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). You say, “But there are so many ways.” Yes, the Old Testament tells us in the book of Proverbs, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (14:12). People say, “But I have my religion and you have yours, and my religion is good enough for me: it satisfies me.” Oh, but that is hardly the question. Is it good enough for God? Does it satisfy God? It is God who has declared that there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved but the name of Jesus. Do you know Him? Have you trusted Him? He is the Way.
Paul was not ashamed to declare that he recognized no other way to God, no other way to Heaven, than through the Lord Jesus Christ, Further he said that in the truth revealed in Christianity we have the completion of all that was set forth in type and shadow in the Old Testament: “After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”
Do you believe all things that are written in the law and the prophets? Sometimes I tell my Jewish friends that I am a better Jew than they are! Because I find that many Jews doubt much of the Holy Scriptures, and take almost a modernistic attitude toward the whole Bible. They question whether the prophecies will ever be fulfilled.
I believe it all. I believe that all things written in the law and the prophets and the Psalms are true. I believe that the Old Testament, from the book of Genesis to the book of Malachi, is the very Word of the living God. And in that I stand with the apostle Paul who was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. But I also believe this, that all the ritual service, all that was written concerning the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament, pointed forward to the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. His cross is the true altar; He Himself is the true sacrifice. He is the Light of the world; He is the Bread of Life on the table in the holy place. He is the Ark of the Covenant. On His heart was written the law. He has offered Himself without spot unto God and it is through His blood alone that we approach God. And it seems to me, the more one studies the Old Testament and considers not only its types and shadows but its prophecies, the more one must come to see that the Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of them all.
That was the stand Paul took. That is what made him a Christian. That was why he became from the time of his conversion such a remarkable exponent of the grace of God. Here was a man who believed for years in the Old Testament economy. When he got the fuller revelation, he believed that. He said, “I believe, therefore have I spoken.” God pity the men who stand in pulpits today ministering to people, yet have not themselves real faith in the truth revealed in God’s Word.
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the [dynamics] of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written [in the Old Testament], The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).
This was Paul’s declaration: I believe “all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” He used the word hope with the sense of full assurance. And he recognized the close link between Judaism and Christianity, so that Christianity is the full flower of which Judaism was the bud.
You see, the charge they brought against him was this: He is preaching that Jesus who died has risen again. Paul replied in essence, “But I am not preaching anything that my Jewish brethren ought to think impossible. They profess to believe in resurrection, unless they are of the Sadducean sect. They believe there will be a resurrection of the just and unjust. So do I.” The future for man is based on this great fact. Does this truth of the resurrection bring real joy to your heart?
Notice the two kinds of people who are going to be raised—the just and the unjust. As surely as there are two ways to live and two ways to die, so are there to be two resurrections. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has said,
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [or condemnation] (John 5:28-29).
A resurrection of the just and of the unjust! And who are the just? “The just shall live by faith.” They are those who have believed God even as Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness or justice. And so when men put their trust in the Lord Jesus, receive Him as Savior, they are numbered among the just. Those who refuse Him and go on in their sinful way are numbered among the unjust; but whether just or unjust, after they leave this world they must rise in resurrection. If they leave this world in their sins, they will rise among the unjust unto condemnation. But if they leave this world cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, they rise among the just to have part in eternal bliss.
Do not forget that there are two resurrections. We would like to believe that there is something about death so purifying and so ennobling that in the very hour of death, no matter what manner of lives men have lived, they are suddenly changed so that they pass out into eternity clean and pure and fit for the presence of God. But our Bibles forbid us to believe that. Our Lord Jesus said, “I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: [and if you die in your sins] whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21).
If men die in their sins, they will be raised in their sins, and in their sins they will stand before the great white throne and be judged for their sins and condemned throughout eternity. But, on the other hand, we read, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13). It is possible to die in the Lord, and those who die in the Lord enter into rest.
Who are they who die in the Lord? They are those who trust the Lord, those who receive the Lord as their own Savior. They reveal by devoted, godly lives that they have really been born from above. These die in the Lord, and these are raised in the Lord, and spend eternity with the Lord; for of these it is written, “They shall not come into condemnation, but [are] passed from death unto life.”
Paul continued his defense by saying, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” In other words, these truths that meant so much to him had gripped his conscience and made him concerned about his manner of life. He sought so to behave that none could accuse him honestly of any ill-doing, and that God might ever be glorified in him. People say sometimes that we Christians are interested in only one thing and that is that men accept Christ as Savior. But that is because we believe that if men definitely put their faith in the truth that God has revealed in His Word, it is going to work a miracle within them. They will receive a new life and nature, and will be concerned about living a holy way. A love for holiness always follows new birth.
Then Paul told Felix what it was that brought him to Jerusalem: “Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.” He had not gone to create trouble, or even to proselyte them to his doctrines or peculiar views. Famine prevailed, and he came to bring gifts that Christian people had given to him for those in need. “Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult, Who ought to have been here before thee, if they had ought against me”; but they were not there. When Paul stood before the Jewish council, they could not find any evil in him unless it was this, that he had interrupted the peace by crying out, “Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” The whole matter of whether Christ is Messiah or not is linked with the question of whether resurrection is possible. Every orthodox Jew said it is possible. Paul said it was not only possible but it had taken place, for Jesus had risen from the dead. And this was the message that he carried throughout the world.
“When Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way”—he had evidently come in contact with Christians before—“he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.” In other words, “We will wait.” He should have cleared Paul, but this man Felix was given to procrastination. It characterized him throughout. He put off setting Paul free. In the meantime, “he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.”
It was very evident that Felix knew Paul was innocent of the charges brought against him. As one set to administer the law, he should have freed him. He was like Pilate, who said of Christ, “I find no fault in this man,” yet allowed His accusers eventually to carry out their will against Him.
As you think back, what a record Paul has had! How he delighted to go from land to land, glorifying Christ! As we continue our study of Acts, we see that God had in store for him, although a prisoner, still greater opportunities to magnify the One who had redeemed him.
In the closing verses of Acts 24 we have a very special message for any who have not yet definitely decided for Christ yet intend to so decide some day. God’s Word says, “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” But it seems so natural for us to put off the settlement of this greatest of all questions, Felix took that attitude of procrastination and, so far as we have any record, he lived and died a Christ-rejecter.
We read, “After certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.” Antonius Felix— to give him his full name—was appointed by Claudius Caesar to be procurator in Judea some two years before Paul was arrested and brought to stand before him, He was a most unprincipled man, an ungodly, scheming politician who stooped often to the very lowest of methods in order to bring about his own purposes.
It is recorded of him in history that when he could not accomplish his purposes, he would not hesitate to call into his service a group of assassins—a secret order bound together by an oath, who were pledged to undertake to destroy anyone for whose death they were paid. Felix in this way managed to remove a great many of his enemies and, as he fancied, to secure his own position. But he failed dismally, as men always do who stoop to cruel and wicked methods to obtain and hold power. Scarcely a few more years had passed before he was in disgrace and, so far as we know, died a suicide.
The Spirit of God mentioned his wife Drusilla, evidently in order that we might realize something of a power over this man that kept him from making a definite decision for Christ. Who was Drusilla? She was the youngest daughter of King Agrippa I. It was a sad family—three sisters, every one of whom lived a life of infamy—Bernice, Miriam, and Drusilla.
Drusilla at fourteen became the wife of Azizus, the king of Emesa, but some years afterwards Felix met her and lured her away from her husband. Then in defiance of all law, both human and divine, betook her as his own wife. And so as Paul stood before Felix there sat with him on the judgment seat this woman, the partner of his life of sin and corruption. God draws special attention to Drusilla’s presence with him. Her father was of Edomite and Jewish extraction. She was brought up in the religion of Israel. Felix was a heathen; Drusilla knew better. She had been instructed in her earliest days in the knowledge of the one true and living God. She knew something of the high standards set forth in the law of God, and she must have been conscious that she was flaunting them all in the life she lived.
These two sent for Paul from time to time in order that they might discuss with him or hear him tell of the faith in Christ. Evidently Felix’s interest was something like that of Herod’s some years before. Herod was curious about Jesus and desired to see Him. He had heard of His wonderful miracles. But at last he was instrumental in putting Jesus to death; that is, his attitude helped in the final rejection of Jesus.
And so here Felix was interested in Paul and his message. He evidently knew a great deal about what had happened in Palestine, particularly in Judea where he was procurator. He knew about Jesus; he knew about His crucifixion. He knew that it was commonly reported that He had risen in triumph from the dead. He knew how the gospel was spreading through all that part of the world, and how it was reaching out even to distant lands. Undoubtedly deep in his heart he wondered whether Jesus was not what He professed to be—the Son of the living God. If so, Felix must have felt that he owed allegiance to this blessed One. But to step right out and accept Christ, to yield his heart to Christ, would mean facing the sin in which he was living. Drusilla, too, would have to face her sin.
I do not know of any harder test for a man or woman today than this. It is difficult for people when they know they have violated God’s holy law and entered into a relationship contrary to God and are living in sin—hard for them to judge their sin and get right with God. So Felix, while interested, yet shrank from taking the step of full allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We read that as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.” No wonder he shuddered, with another man’s wife sitting there beside him on the throne! When Paul reasoned of righteousness, he must have brought before Felix the fact that he had no righteousness. I imagine that Paul used the line of reasoning that he presented in the Epistle to the Romans— that is, that the judgment of God is against all unrighteousness, and that all men everywhere are sinners and in need of a Savior. And then he would not hesitate to witness to the fact that Felix, instead of holding his physical passions in subjection, had allowed them to ran away with him and dominate his reason; so that, instead of living in self-control, he was controlled by evil.
And Paul went on to tell of judgment to come. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There was no sugar-coating here. There was no palliating the message; no “soft-pedaling.” It took tremendous courage for this little Christian Jew to stand there before that Roman governor and his paramour, and press home the corruption of their lives and the wickedness of their hearts; then to insist that for all these things God was going to bring them into judgment!
And yet we do not read that Felix responded in repentance. He realized the truth of much of Paul’s words, and he shuddered. The memory of his sins rose up before him, and as he sat there facing God about those sins, he was in trouble and distress, but there was no repentance.
What folly it is to try to cover up and forget our sins! Remember, if our sins go unconfessed, God does not forget them. He said, “I will not forget any of their sins.” They are there in His books of record, and in His judgment day they will be revealed. We are told that “some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before them to judgment; and some men they follow after” (1 Timothy 5:24). Whether hidden and covered here on earth or not, they will come out there. You say: “Well is there no way of deliverance? Is there no way of salvation, for I have sinned? I have violated God’s holy law, but is there no forgiveness?”
Ah, yes. And as Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, he must have put clearly before Felix the glorious message of the gospel. It is not necessary that the sinner go on to meet God in judgment—that is, if he is willing to judge his sins now and come into the presence of God now and face those sins. But men need to remember this: the first time that a man comes into the presence of God, he must come with all his sins upon him. If he never comes into the presence of God until the day of judgment, he will stand there with all his sins upon him, and he will hear that voice saying, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
On the other hand, if you are ready to come now into the presence of God, you must come with all your sins upon you. You can not get rid of them otherwise. You cannot cleanse your own heart. Job says, “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me” (9:30-31). It is absolutely impossible for you to cleanse yourself, to wash out the stains of sin. But thank God, if you are ready to come to Him in repentance—and repentance involves a complete change of attitude in regard to sin—if you are ready to come now, earnestly desiring the forgiveness of sins, there is forgiveness with Him, thank God. For “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We read in the book of Proverbs, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (28:13). That mercy was offered to Felix. That mercy was extended to Drusilla, but this impenitent couple, doubtless putting their heads together, said in effect: “We are not ready to face this thing; we are not ready to separate one from another; we are not ready to break the tie that binds us in our unholy union.” So we read that though Felix shuddered, he answered Paul, saying, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
That is the answer that so many make. Felix, the procrastinator! We have a saying that “Procrastination is the thief of time”; and the Spaniards say, “The road of by-and-by leads to the house of never.” And here is this man, realizing his lost condition, knowing that he is not right in the sight of God, knowing that he should put his trust in the Lord Jesus, yet he puts it off.
Forget Felix for a moment and let me ask you, reader, to face this question honestly. Are you saying as Felix did, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee”? You fully expect to be saved sometime. Perhaps a dear father or mother has gone on to Heaven, and you promised before they left that you would meet them there later on. Perhaps they are still living, and again and again they have prayed for you and pleaded with you to come to Christ, and you have said, “Oh yes, some day, some time, but not now. When I have a more convenient season, then I will get right with God.”
When do you think that more convenient season will arrive? When will you ever have a better opportunity of coming to Christ than you have today? When will it ever be easier to repent of your sins, to confess your need, to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, than it is now? Do you think it may be a more convenient season when perhaps the health that you now enjoy is taken from you and you toss on a bed of sickness? I have ministered to hundreds on sickbeds, but I have never yet been at a sickbed of a Christian who was not glad that he had trusted Christ when he was well and strong. I have had many say to me, “I am so thankful that I do not have that matter to settle now when my body is racked with pain, when my poor mind is troubled and distressed, I am so thankful that I knew Christ as my Savior before I became ill.”
Often when I have stood by the sickbed of an unsaved one, I have been stirred to indignation when some doctor or nurse has said, “Don’t talk religion to him. Don’t disturb him. He is too sick to be bothered by anything that might excite him.” I know what they mean. They mean that we are not to tell dying men and women that it will be Christ or Hell, and that to reject the one is to choose the other. And I admit that it is hard to go into the room of one who is lying low in weakness, and faithfully present the great realities of eternity. It is only occasionally that I have seen one in such a condition ready to listen and to turn to God for salvation.
Do not be guilty of the inexcusable folly of saying, “When I have a more convenient time, I will call for you—when I am laid aside on a bed of sickness, then I will face the question of my soul’s salvation.”
I wonder if someone is saying, “When I can take life more leisurely, then will I consider this question. Today I am engrossed in study; I am overwhelmed with the pressure of things at school.” Or, “I am out in the business world and occupied with all that I have to face day by day. Give me a better opportunity. When I have finished training, or when I have reached the place where I can retire from the activities of business and can look at things more thoughtfully, then I will call for you.” Let me tell you this: The average person who spends a lifetime occupied with the things of this world will not leave all those for the things of God when it comes to what he calls a time of leisure. Oh, the elderly men and women whose spiritual sensibilities seem to be absolutely atrophied! They never seem to have interest in eternal things. They remind one of a solemn verse in the book of Revelation, which literally translated reads, “And the fruit season of thy soul’s desire has gone from thee” (18:14).
Now is the time to get right with God—in the midst of study, in the midst of business, in the midst of all the various things you have to face. Take time to settle this greatest of all questions—that of your soul’s salvation. People say, “When I am old it will be time enough; after I have had my fling, after I have enjoyed the things of the world, then as an old man or woman I will turn to Christ.” Oh, the wretched hallucination that leads one to be so foolish as to speak like that! Think of the Lord of glory as a young man, in the very prime of life, dying for you. Yet you say to yourself “After I have drunk the cup of sin to the full, I will give the dregs of my life to Him.” Could there be baser ingratitude than that? Old men seldom turn to Christ.
When I was only twelve I went into a meeting in an auditorium in Los Angeles. About ten thousand people were gathered in the building which had two galleries—a building that has since been torn down to make way for another. I went to hear D. L. Moody preach. Because I could find no other place, I crawled out on a rafter beneath the ceiling. I remember how in the course of his address he said, “I want everyone in this auditorium who is a Christian, who knows he is a Christian, to stand up. Now, remain standing until the ushers can tell me about how many are on their feet.” Then he said, “There are between five and six thousand people standing. What a testimony—five to six thousand Christian people in this building! Now,” he said, “I want everyone here who became a Christian before he was fifteen years of age to sit down.” And over half of that company sat down. Then he said, “Now how many of those who remain standing accepted Christ before they were twenty?” More than half of those remaining sat down. And then he went on, moving up the years by tens. By the time he got to fifty, there were only about twenty left standing in that great congregation who had trusted Christ after they were fifty years of age! It was an object lesson I have never forgotten.
Youth is “the time to serve the Lord, the time to win the great reward.” But if you are past your youth, thank God, He still waits for you to come, Yield to Him now. Do not say, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee,” lest when you call He is no longer listening to your cry, For we read in the Word that Wisdom speaks to those who refuse her voice and says, “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me” (Proverbs 1:28).
Felix lost his opportunity. Acts 24:26 suggests another reason why he did not decide. Not only lustful, he was a covetous man. “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.” A judge on the bench, he was corrupt, wicked, hoping that this poor, penniless prisoner would perhaps raise money from his friends in order to bribe the judge for his deliverance! Of course Paul would not resort to that. He would rather have remained in prison for years than to buy his way out. So he stayed in jail, but Felix “sent for him the oftener, and communed with him,” I imagine every time he spurned the voice of God, his conscience grew harder, his spirit more indifferent.
“After two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” So Felix passed off the page of Holy Scripture, but he did not pass out from under the eye of God. He lived and died in wickedness and corruption. Some day he will stand before a Judge who can never be bribed, and he will have to answer Him for refusing the message of grace.
What about you, dear friend? Have you been refusing to yield to the Spirit of God? Have you been waiting for a more convenient season? Oh, will you not believe God when He says, “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation”?