Righteousness, Temperence, Judgement and Trembling
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
Paul speaks to the people as he was being arrested
“hear my defence”, which is his testimony
reminds them that he himself was once a persecutor of Christians
mentions that the high priest, and the elders were witnesses of these facts
How he went up to Damascus to arrest any Christians he could find
Our testimony is a defence
we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of our Testimony
You have a testimony
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
This was Paul’s conversion story
this is one of the most powerful ways we can share the gospel with others
Our story is unique, it is only ours and is not subject to debate
People can see the change that we have experienced, and we know it is true
he went on to explain how that God had used him to preach the gospel
How that he had been such a persecutor, and was there when Stephen dies
That God spoke and said “I will send you to the gentiles
The people were all listening up to that point
when he mentioned the gentiles they all began to lift up their voice saying “away with this person from the earth. It is not fit that he should live”
The captain commanded they bring him into the castle to scourge him
And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
As a Roman Citizen, Paul had rights that not everyone else had
They could not punish him without a form of due process
He had been born a Roman citizen, a man of means and stature
So, the next day, they had to have a hearing where they commanded the chief priests and their council to appear and they brought Paul before them.
And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
The chief priest commanded Paul to be smitten nearly as soon as he began to speak
Then Paul began to divide their crowd
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
So, Paul was continuing to be held while they decided what to do
And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
The Lord spoke to Paul, and let him know what was going to happen
This had a lot to do with Paul’s decision making process as he responded to the coming events
when you know what the Lord wants to do with you, it is much easier to make decisions
we should be constantly seeking Him, desiring to know His will
The next day, a group of men took an oath to fast until they killed Paul
They set up a plan, but Paul’s nephew became aware of it and warned him
He told the Chief Captain, that the Jews had planned this ambush when they were to bring Paul down for the next hearing
So he sent over two hundred soldiers to take Paul in the middle of the night down to Caesarea, to the Felix the governor
So Felix held Paul in Herod’s judgement hall and commanded that his accusers come to make their charges
After 5 days the high priests and elders came, and they made their case against Paul
Paul made his defence, telling the story of his arrest and events...
Felix, had some understanding of “the way” (Christianity), and so he listened, and then deferred the matter, saying he would wait until the captain, Lysias came down..
He decided neither for nor against Paul, but decided to keep him prisoner, while waiting, although he was free to have visitors come to him - more like house arrest
after some time, Felix and his wife, who was a Jew sent for Paul to hear about his faith
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.
Now consider this:
Perhaps his wife had been asking him what all this fuss was about
maybe she was genuinely curious as to the faith, as so many had become Christians
Maybe Felix himself was curious, was interested in this dramatic story
But as Paul “reasoned” Felix “trembled”
Suddenly it wasn’t just entertainment
Paul reasoned of “righteousness, temperance, and judgement to come”
God has given us the ability to reason. If we will take the time to actually consider the weight of the facts and evidence before us, “reason” will bring us to trembling.
There is such a thing as righteousness
There is such a thing as “judgement to come”
the bible speaks of it, both history and science declare it. There will be a day in which God will Judge the world in righteousness through Jesus Christ!
If you have not prepared for that, then nothing else that you have ever done will matter at all!
We can do all sorts of things to keep ourselves occupied, keep our thoughts busy or numb, prevent ourselves from “reasoning” about these matters - lest we tremble, lest we be brought to the valley of decision
The valley of decision is that place that the Holy Spirit will bring us, through reasoning, through faith, through truth, the that place of decision, and if you don’t yet know Jesus, it is a place of trembling
Felix did what so many people do when they come to this valley of decision.
He postponed it -
He said “stop here”, I’ll get back to this at a “convenient” time
Friends, there will never be a convenient season to be saved
there will never be a convenient season to repent of sins and turn away from the wrong path you have been on
there will never be a convenient season to acknowledge that all that you have built your life upon is sinking sand
What a foolish error Felix made that day
What a snare the things of this world and its deceitfulness can be
Felix, had he given a little more thought to why he was trembling, might have been saved that day
But the changes he would have had to make...
The bible says he partly kept continued to postpone because he thought that money would be given for Paul (by the church perhaps)
How many people think that they will get saved one day, some day, but they want to collect just a little more from the world, from the pleasures of sin, first?
Oh the deceitfulness of these things. The traps people fall into.
And if that is you today, don’t stop short, don’t wait another day, or another minute
Today is the day of your salvation, now is the accepted time!
Felix planned to get back to that, but after two years went by, he still hadn’t
And then, he lost his job, and Festus became governor.
We don’t read anymore about Felix in the bible, and nowhere does it suggest he ever got saved
How terrible to be that close, even tot he point of trembling, and not receive salvation.
But we believe better things for you!