In the latter chapters of the book of Acts, Paul is a prisoner on his way to Rome with the gospel of Christ. God is recording for us the details of his providence - exactly how he got the gospel to Rome. In chapter 24 Paul is in the custody of Governor Felix. Paul preached the gospel boldly to Felix during his two years in prison.
Paul preached about faith in Jesus Christ, emphasizing three things: righteousness (how God justifies the ungodly through faith in Jesus), self-control (the progressive fruit of sanctification through faith in Jesus), and the coming judgment (future bodily salvation and glorification of believers, and judgment for those outside of Christ) [Acts 24:22-27, ESV]. What boldness!
Scripture records for us how Felix responded to the gospel message. Felix's reaction is helpful, because it shows us exactly how NOT to respond to the gospel.
Felix made the gospel a matter of:
1. Comfort - “Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present (Acts 24:25).” As he heard Paul preach about Christ he became uncomfortable, and sent Paul away. Feeling guilty? Just shut the preacher up! He was more concerned with his comfort than being right with God. We must not push away the uncomfortable when it comes from God!
2. Convenience - “When I get an opportunity I will summon you (24:25b).” Felix assumed that God would come to him on his terms, and at his convenience! We are not promised another opportunity to hear the gospel! We cannot relegate God to our schedule, but must be submissive to God’s timing! We must order our lives around him, not the other way around. Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
3. Corruption - “..he hoped that money would be given him by Paul (24:26).” Felix hoped that Paul was as corrupt as he was! He wanted a bribe from Paul. Felix is trying to turn God’s call to repentance into an occasion to make money!!
4. Conversation - “So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed..(24:26b-27).” While it is good to have conversations about the gospel with those who are genuinely interested, some people just want to talk about the gospel (or argue with us about it) and never obey it. God has not called us to neverending conversations and debates, but to repent and believe at the preaching of the gospel!
Are you imitating Felix in your response to the gospel? The only acceptable response is to repent of our sin and believe on Jesus Christ, surrendering our lives to God. May God grant us grace to respond to his goodness in Christ in repentance and faith!