During Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea, Acts 24:24-25 reads: “And 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. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
Over the years I have wondered about the exact words and the power of Paul’s speech that made Felix…a Roman ruler…a powerful and worldly successful man…tremble during this very private interview of Paul and “the faith in Christ.” Paul was reasoning out of the natural moral law combined with the gospel message of salvation through Christ and the cross, in an elevated manner and through personal conviction that is not attainable by human intellect alone.
Saul (Paul) the young Pharisee speaking to Felix or someone like Felix decades earlier, about his zeal and enthusiasm for the religion of Judaism, would have produced genuine respect and admiration for Saul’s religious beliefs and erudition, but would never have brought Felix under Holy Spirit conviction for sin that an anointed discourse on righteousness, temperance, and judgment-to-come would produce in a politically powerful, worldly successful Roman governor.
The difference between Saul the young Pharisee and Paul the seasoned Christian missionary evangelist is that on the road to Damascus, God found Paul and Paul found God. Saul the young Pharisee knew about God…Paul the apostle of the faith knows God personally. Paul was able to draw out from his own adventure of faith following Jesus Christ, the living words of truth that cut through the hard outer shell of the practical worldly thinking of a man like Felix, to reach his inner conscience.
The difference in Paul was produced through an adventure of faith following Jesus Christ in the danger zone of self-abandoned faith….according to a God-composed life-script of such original creativity that it was previously unimaginable to Saul (Paul) or anyone else at the time, before his conversion.
It was a God-composed adventure of faith life-script to be a missionary evangelist to the Greco-Roman world of the first-century that enabled Paul to write to the Corinthians:
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
It is my guess that some of these timeless truths entered into the discussion of Paul with Felix so many years ago. Only in heaven will we know whether Felix eventually made the decision for Christ that would determine his eternal future.
In this discourse between Paul and Felix, Felix knows that Paul is a prisoner, knows all about the recent furor in Jerusalem involving Paul, and is fully aware that Paul has been rejected by the ruling Jews of Jerusalem. Yet Felix initiates this private interview with Paul, making a point of including his wife Drusilla the Jewess as well.
The Christian church in the last days, if not raptured pretribulation, may be in a similar worldly disadvantaged condition like Paul in relation to Felix and the world at large (Mt. 24:9), yet likewise be filled with Holy Spirit wisdom, self-composure, grace, confidence in Christ, and divinely empowered love that will draw people to us to hear the gospel message.
In the heat of the end-times environment, only the polarized contrast of a journey-of-faith and a journey-of-self, may exist as options. Multitudes of people disenchanted with the conventional worldly option will become interested in hearing the gospel message…really listening for the first time. The piercing truth of the gospel message spoken through an anointed and inspired discourse will cause people to tremble over conviction of sin as Felix trembled at the words of Paul so many years ago.
Christians today must rise above being merely “church Christians” where the sole experience of our faith occurs only within the four walls of our church building. Our testimony must have more depth than merely telling people “how great” is our church service, our pastor, the worship music, and the youth program, without ever mentioning what Jesus Christ means to us. Our lives and our testimony must begin to approximate and become in-line with what we read in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, based upon our own biblical-quality adventure of faith. This is not only achievable, but is the special work God intends to do through the new covenant relationship with all believers who exercise faith in Christ.