Power vs. Faith
The Book of Acts
Have your beliefs ever differed from people with authority and power over you? What was that like (what were your thoughts, feelings, fears”)?
MAURI’S PROF STORY.
There is heavy persecution of Christians at this time.
Luke, in Acts, aimed at showing that Christianity is not a dangerous religious group.
The Bible is concerned with the conversion of all people, including the rich and powerful.
Paul defends Christianity before the State.
We as believers must be bold and courageous in sharing our faith with people of power, expecting it to be difficult and trial-some for them to be converted.
The holes in the accusations of Paul’s opponents:
He exposed many holes in the arguments of his opponents, giving at least six telling points that would stand up in the court.
No one could not prove the charges against him (24:13).
The Jews from Asia should have been there to substantiate some of the accusations (24:19).
The Sanhedrin was unable to come up with clear charges (24:20).
As far as Rome was concerned, Christianity is a sect within Judaism, just like the Sadducean and Pharisaic sects (24:14–15).
As for Paul’s personal life, he could honestly say he was blameless before God and humankind (24:16).
Paul’s belief about the resurrection might indeed be an issue (24:21), but that was a theological matter and did not really concern the Roman state.
We as Believers should be:
Like Paul, we should be competent in our defense of Christianity from the world’s attacks. This requires that we know the world and understand its criticisms against Christianity. Then we should formulate answers to those criticisms that are credible and convincing.
What are some criticisms that we see against Christianity today?
Have you ever defended your faith against these criticisms? Which ones? How did you do it? Was it difficult?
the early Christians not only outthought their opponents, they also outlived them. Paul said of himself, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (24:16). In the writings of the early Christian apologists, the behavior of the Christians was a key aspect used in defense of Christianity.14 The force of blameless lives has been powerful in defending Christianity against attacks from outside in every age.
What are some things that Christians have done or said that make it difficult to convince people that Christianity is the way?
Why do you think it’s important to remain blameless when pointing people to The Way?
What are some things in your own life that keep you from blamelessly pointing people to The Way?
In this story, we see that Felix (a person with power and authority) is curious about what Paul is teaching. BUT, he seems to hold back.
Why do you think Felix is reluctant to letting Paul go?
Why do you you think that Felix never decides to follow the Way?
Reasons why it is difficult for a person of authority to follow the Way:
Felix showed an interest in the gospel by sending for Paul and listening “to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus” (24:24).
Paul brought up the topics of “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come” with Felix so that he even became afraid (24:25).
Felix’s behavior gives us at least three reasons why it is so hard for the rich and powerful to enter the kingdom of God (cf. ).
They are able to camouflage their insecurity by pretending to be in control of their lives. Verse 25a says that Felix was afraid after Paul had talked to him about righteousness, self-control, and judgment. But he was able to brush off his unease through his power to control his schedule. “That’s enough for now!” he said, “You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you” (24:25b). We must be aware of such bluffs and, if possible, keep exposing the powerful to the primacy of their relationship with God. We must tell them, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” ().
The rich and powerful are often controlled by an insatiable greed, and they usually find convenient ways to express this. Felix was so blinded by greed that he even hoped for a bribe from the one who had talked to him about righteousness, self-control, and judgment (24:26)! Paul gave a severe warning about this when he wrote, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” ().
Those who are at the top feel that they have to please many people if they want to stay in their position and thrive in society. This may hinder them from doing what they know to be right. Ultimately, Paul was denied justice “because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews” (24:27). Ironically, Felix could not stay on like this, for he was finally dismissed from his job, and a deputation of Jews went to Rome to accuse him of wrongdoing. He avoided punishment for his failures in Judea only because of his influential brother, Pallas. But in the present passage we see how difficult it was for him to do justice by Paul.
Have you ever had a Felix in your life? Who were or are they?
Have you or would you ever share the Gospel with them in hopes of pointing them to the Way? Why or why not?
What are some ways that we can be bold yet respectful in sharing the Gospel to those with authority and power in our lives?
we must be competent in our defense of Christianity; against the attacks that come to it from the world.
we must be bold in defending our faith to even those who are in authority in our own lives