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Paul’s Defense to Felix (Acts 24:1-27)

September 9, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon calls for a reevaluation of God’s promises opposed to the notions of the world or the good life apart from Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter admonishes and encourages both believers and unbelievers to carefully consider the dual nature of the Gospel, which is comprised of God’s grace to forgive sinners and grant them power to walk faithfully before Him. The focus of this sermon is on the irony of Paul’s defense to Felix, where he preached the righteousness of God, restraint in God, and retribution by God.

The Righteousness of God20140311-184658.jpg

And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:

Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day (Acts 24:10-21;ESV).

Tertullus spoke with flattery and falsely accused Paul, but Paul responded with a good conscious before both God and man. Pastor Carter describes the righteousness of God as doing and being right. In other words, one must understand that there is a standard way of living, thinking and speaking in a right way, particularly, according to the Word of God and God’s way.

The Restraint in God

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 reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you. At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him (Acts 24:24-26; ESV).”

Not only was the righteousness of God foreign to Felix and his wife Drusilla, but they were also ignorant of God’s restraint in patiently enduring their sin and the spiritual fruit of self-control or Spirit-filled-restraint. Paul rightly understood the great danger in lacking self-control as a follower of Christ (cf. Exodus 20:10-13; Judges 16:18-22; 2 Samuel 12:7-15; 1 Kings 11:1-23; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). In fact, Paul often in his letters reproves and exhorts believers to remember the grace of God saves sinners and teaches them to live godly, self-controlled lives unlike the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 5:16-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:6-7, 3:1-9; Titus 2:1-14).

The Retribution by God

And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against PaulBut Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case. Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs (Acts 24:1,23; ESV).”

Ironically, although Felix was in a position to adjudicate Paul’s case, Paul reminds Felix that he too would stand before the Christ to whom Paul was testifying of in his trial (cf. Pilate and Jesus, John 18:33-39). Felix trembled, even feared what he heard, but unfortunately that is all he did. He knew all about Jesus Christ, His teachings, disciples, and so forth, but he never knew Christ; he heard without truly hearing (cf. Isaiah 6:8-10, 29:13-14; Matthew 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-7).

Why do you come hear the Word of Christ today?

When you stand before God, He will not be concerned with hearing about your righteousness, because you have none. The only righteousness He requires you can’t and don’t, but must have. The righteousness of God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, who actively entrusted Himself to God the Father to the point of death, in order to not only save His people from His eternal retribution, but also to shape them into His likeness by freeing the from power of sin to live faithfully and righteously before their God (cf. Exodus 20:1-21; Romans 6, 12:1-2; Philippians 2:1-17).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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