Acts 24: “Don’t Sugarcoat the Gospel”

In the next three chapters of Acts (Acts 24,25,26), Paul will find himself on trial before three different Roman politicians: Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. He will also find himself with a prime opportunity to share the message of Christ to these high ranking Gentiles.

As I was reading and studying I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 10:

Matthew 10:16-20 (NLT) 16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

The amazing reality of this prophecy is that Paul would find himself not only being the one who would flog the disciples, but would later stand trial as an apostle.

So here we find Paul in Acts 24:

  • (v. 16) Sheep among wolves
  • (v. 17) Handed over to the courts
  • (v.18) Standing trial before governors
  • (v. 18) Using the opportunity to tell about Jesus
  • (v. 19) Not worrying about how to respond or what to say

Because Paul wasn’t worried about what to say or how to say it, God was able to use an otherwise desperate situation for his glory. In fact, Paul was able to spend time sharing the gospel with governor Felix and his wife Drusilla.

Acts 24:24-25 (NLT) 24 A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.”

There are some interesting takeaway when we look closer at this exchange between Paul, Felix and Felix’s wife Drusilla.

Takeaway #1: The Holy Spirit will Convict

The three areas that Paul tackles with Felix are the same three areas Jesus communicated regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8

Three Areas:

  • Righteousness
  • Self-control
  • Coming day of judgement

Connection to John 16:8

And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

For Felix, Paul ended up touching on things that would have hit Felix to the core. History would tell us that Felix was a ruthless leader who didn’t adhere to a high level of justice over his people. In the self-control department, history also would tell us that Drusilla was Felix’s third wife, and he actually broke off his second marriage to marry her. Finally Felix became scared when Paul connected all the dots and began to share about the Lord’s coming judgment on all people.

Takeaway #2: The Christian Message is Hard to Hear

The Christian message is not easy for people to hear. A person this past week shared with me a quote they heard over the weekend, “God didn’t create you to be happy, he created you to be Holy.” Happiness shouldn’t be the goal of the Christian life, it should be the bi-product.

Regardless of your response to this understanding, look at Felix’s response, “Go away for now,” he replied. It’s easy to understand why Felix would feel this way, he was experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Paul has as much ability to convict people as we do…none at all! Sure, we can make people feel guilty, but only the Holy Spirit can convict people of sin. 

Takeaway #3: People Will Talk to You… Until a Certain Point

The scarier part of Felix’s statement isn’t found in the first part, but rather the second, “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” Felix is basically saying, I don’t have time to worry about God. 

The reality is, people will talk to you up until the point they’ve heard enough, or are convicted by what they are hearing. Here’s the deal, you can’t sugarcoat the gospel! Truthfully, you don’t have to! You can be strategic about where and when you share, but what you share needs to be the gospel truth. Because the gospel is all about God’s power to change lives. It has to move from a memorized script to heart deep confession of what the Living Lord has done in your life!