April 8, 2013

Acts 24:25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

This is perfectly in line with yesterday’s sermon on repentance! People have been running from repentance since the dawn of time. Felix had every reason to feel fearful when confronted with his own sinfulness and the coming judgment, but his reaction was entirely too typical: he ran from the issue, rather than dealing with it. That’s not to say that Paul did anything wrong, and that’s something we need to remember. We are responsible to speak the truth in love, but we are not responsible for how people respond to it. The next verse says that Felix was hoping for a bribe, which means that he loved his sin more than the prospect of salvation. How sad! Of those who go to hell, most don’t do so for what are considered “terrible” sins, but simply for consistently choosing something else over submission and obedience to God. There is a great fallacy in secular society that hell is reserved for mass murderers and the like, when Jesus said that the way there is broad, especially in contrast to the path to life. (Matthew 7:13-14) Refusing to think about it, as Felix did, doesn’t change the facts.

I may yet turn into a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher! The simple truth that sin has consequences is considered “hate speech” today. That’s been instigated by the devil, who wants to take as many people with him as he can! I don’t personally enjoy preaching on hell, and would much rather focus on the joys of walking in fellowship with God. I am never to preach on judgment without expressing the grace of God, but I should not preach on the grace of God without letting people know why it’s so wonderful! Grace is never to be taken for granted and presumed upon. Rather, we need to recognize what we really deserve for turning our backs on God, so that we will be fully grateful for the salvation that God made available through the cross of Jesus Christ. It comes down to a choice: acknowledge our sin and repent, or ignore God and continue in our sin. I have made the choice myself, but I am called to let people know that the choice is available, so that as many as will may choose life. Felix did not, in common with the majority of people I deal with. That is very sad and regrettable, but I must not let that deter me from presenting the choice, because some people do choose life, and when that happens, there is rejoicing in heaven! (Luke 15:7)

Father, thank You for speaking through me in the sermon yesterday. There was little overt reaction, but You know what happened in people’s hearts, and You know who will listen to the recording. Help me keep my own repentance up to date, and help me be consistent in presenting the message of repentance to all who will receive it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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