Acts 24:24-25 “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,”
Felix heard Paul concerning the faith in Christ. Isn’t this an odd message, considering the contents that we have listed here in verse 25? In this day and age, most people think that in order to preach Christ, we must refrain from preaching what Paul obviously saw fit content for a message concerning the “Faith in Christ”. Notice what Paul preached on. “Righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” And today he would be called a Pharisee, or a legalist, yes, anything but a gospel preacher. I am thankful that I pastor a church that will let me preach. You can say what you will but there are not many churches that will hear the preaching of the whole counsel of God. It is just not the norm today to preach on anything that “we” or our families might be doing, Oh, no! “Don’t start meddling with my life or my family preacher, just stick to Christ and Him crucified.” And it may sound like an exaggeration but it is definitely not.
Well, Felix heard this great man of God preach concerning the faith in Christ and let’s note the content of Paul’s message.
The English word “righteousness” in this verse is translated from the Greek, “peri dikaiosunes”, which is the same Greek word for “justice”. This speaks not of the justice of God, but of our own justice in our relationships with God and man. Felix was governor and this was most fitting because it was his responsibility to dispense justice.
Next, look at the word “temperance”. The English word “temperance” here is translated from the Greek word, “egkrateias” which means “moderation” or “restraint”. The use of the word here is speaking of the restraint of all passions and/or evil inclinations. These would include prudence, chastity and moderation in general. Any type of self control would fall under this topic.
And lastly we see on this list of items covered when preaching the faith in Christ is that of “judgment to come”.
One of the most popular statements, or the one that I have heard most often when going somewhere to preach for the first time is this…
“We’re with you preacher. We’ll stand behind you all the way, as long as you’re preaching that book. But if you get away from that book that’s where you lose us.”
In all honesty, I am now pasturing the very first church, that has had me in when they were looking for a pastor, in which that was the truth. And the odd thing is this, no one here ever said that to me. Many of the things that I have preached here, there are many churches that will not tolerate that kind of preaching. For the most part, people don’t really understand what they are saying when they make that statement.
Many a church member is under the false notion that bible preaching is about people and a time that is totally remote from us. And this is what makes it hard for some people to take when the preacher “meddles” with the things in their lives.
“That is not what that verse says preacher! You’re not in the bible anymore…”
Most people have no idea what true, scriptural, bible preaching is anymore.
God told Isaiah “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1
And in Ezekiel 2:7 “And thou shalt speak all my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forebear: for they are most rebellious.”
One of the greatest reasons for this failure to grasp the reason, content and method of true bible preaching is PREACHERS.
I remember a few years ago that a friend and I went on visitation together and ran into another young minister who want to let us know that he only preached Christ and Him crucified, because that is what God called him to do. He was letting my friend know in no uncertain terms that he did not approve of his method of naming sins and preaching in such a way as to evoke any response that might be considered less than positive.
Let’s look at Paul’s example. I am sure that no one would argue that Paul was a great preacher, and it would not be a bad idea to try and be like him. If we truly preach Jesus we must preach of our relationships with God and man, or “righteousness” or, justice.
In our justice or righteousness toward God and man we must realize that we have a responsibility to God. We owe God our respect and our obedience. And we must never forget that we are accountable to God. This is true for all men. It does not change when we become Christians. We all are accountable to God for our actions. That is why men die and go to hell every day. And men must be informed of this responsibility. Men must understand that they are going to hell if they are not saved because they will one day stand before a righteous God and give and account of their actions on this earth, and if they die in their sins, undone without Christ, they will go to hell for all eternity.
Concerning our relationships to our fellow man we must remember that we have a responsibility to be respectful, considerate, honest, and fair in our dealings with our fellow man in our daily lives.
Knowing these things we preach of our responsibility for ourselves in that we must preach on “temperance”. We must preach on self control. We have the responsibility to teach me to be sober or temperate in all things. There must prudence or caution in our actions. We are not to live carelessly and wrecklessly. We are to use good judgment and caution in our decision making and our joining ourselves to others in their undertakings.
We must also exercise a chaste lifestyle. This means to live a life of purity of body, mind, speech, and actions. Look at the mess we have these days. People think that warm weather is an excuse to run around town just as close to nude as they can get without going to jail. To tell you the truth, next time you go to town, note how many people that you can point out who would have been arrested when your grandparents were your age. Purity of mind, that is easy to see, or the lack of it. One way is what we just said about the indecent way people dress today. If it weren’t for all the wicked devils that enjoyed the show, it wouldn’t be going on. There are still laws on the books about indecent exposure. The big problem is, people like it; Wicked imaginations. Read Genesis again. You won’t have to read far before you see how God feels about wicked imaginations. And speech, just listen to the trash that we have to hear on the streets coming from the automobiles around us in town. It is embarrassing to hear some of the things that we do and in the presence of our mates and our children; All in the name of “Freedom of Expression”. And we see the results in our children’s lives. Look about us. People see sex as a past-time to be enjoyed. It is a gift of Almighty God, to be enjoyed between a man and wife. Today, though, it is taught to be something that anyone can do as long as they are safe and responsible; there is nothing responsible about sex outside of the marriage relationship.
Have you noticed the heroes in most movies today? A drink in the hand, a woman under each arm, a curse on the lips and a wicked lifestyle. We are allowing our children to play games, watch movies, and listen to music that glorify a wicked lifestyle and make it look glamorous and enjoyable. How would you like to see your children turn out like some of the characters that you have been watching on tv?
“Hey preacher! You’re meddling!”
Hey listener, if that is the way you feel, you’re probably lost and you need Jesus. Stop, think, and check up. You may have been duped by a smooth talker and convinced that you are going to heaven because you have a preacher buddy, but duped you are. You can not live like hell and go to heaven! You can not live like a devil and walk with angels when you die!
You can not preach the word of God and never deal with anything in the lives of the people present. To preach this way is not to preach but to give fair speeches and tickle ears.
The whole counsel of God must be preached because men have to be told and shown that they are responsible to God for their actions, whether they like it or not. God has not changed His mind about sin. God has not changed His mind about hell, it is still burning; And multiplied millions of people are finding themselves there everyday. If we preach this and present the truth in such a way that it gets the attention of the hearers, there will be a response. Notice what happened when Paul preached. Felix trembled. When the whole counsel of God is preached, there will be a response. Some one will be mad, sad or glad.
Next time you hear a preacher that is being honest, show some respect. If you hate him for telling the truth and you want to crawl down his throat for it, just shut up. He probably has to listen to some of the trashy music and comedy that you enjoy when he is out in public with his family. When you don’t like what he says, he has the same freedom of expression that you do. If you have to live like hell, at least he cared enough to warn you on your way there.