“Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”
Acts 24 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they [c]brought charges to the governor against Paul. 2 After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor,
“Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3 we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5 For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7 But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you. By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” 9 The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.
10 When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11 since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13 Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia— 19 who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21 other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”
22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.
24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.
In today’s text, regarding Paul’s imprisonment, it says: Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him. But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. I couldn’t help but to think that there are many people today who are like Felix. They have some knowledge of the way of faith. They are entertained by the discussions of faith. They seek the ways that they may benefit by faith, but when it comes to discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, they can find no time for those discussions or conversations. The result is that in much of the church today, there are many who will come when they have time. There are many that are entertained by the faith of a few, but there is little depth to their relationship with Christ Himself, because they have no time for righteousness, self-control or the judgment to come. In John 14:15 Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
There are many books which have been written and many seminars which are given, regarding the best methods to grow the church. They focus on programs that will appeal to people. They focus on ways to engage and entertain those who have some or no knowledge of faith in Christ. They focus on messages that speak of self-improvement and how to be successful, but they stay away from discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, so that people will not be frightened. Time is one of many people’s most valuable commodities today and if people don’t like what they hear, they will not find the time to attend. In truth, Jesus gave us the simple formula for true church growth. In John 12:31-33 it says: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. If we will lift up Christ and the way and the reason He died; that on the cross He took our sins upon Himself so that we could have His righteousness and so escape the judgment to come, then He will draw the people to Himself. In Matthew 16:13-19 it says: Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” The church that Jesus is building, is built on the foundation of the revelation and knowledge that Jesus is the Christ. Churches that are built upon the programs, the policies and the entertainment of those who come, may grow in size, but they will lack the power to stand against the gates of Hell. If we would build the church, shouldn’t we build according to Jesus plan?
In 1 Corinthians 1:17-24 Paul says: Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says: When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. The church in Paul’s time grew both in size and in power as people came to hear and know about Christ and about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.
If we truly want to experience church growth, the only program we really need is the one Jesus Himself lays our for us. In Mark 16:15-18 He says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 2 Peter 3:8-9 says: Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. The judgment is coming. God’s grace is that He has given time for people to repent. If we will lift up Christ, people will find time to come and respond.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, the Christ and precious Holy Spirit, that we don’t need to rely on the wisdom and the programs of people. All we need is to lift up Jesus; to preach Christ and Him crucified; crucified for the forgiveness sins, so that we could obtain the righteousness that God intended. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, having self-control, we escape the judgment to come and have the power Jesus gives us to stand against the gates of Hell. Amen.