Salvation in Three Phases

Salvation in Three Phases

At one Bible conference, seminary president Earl Rodmacher began his sermon in this vein, “Last night while I was listening to Chuck Swindoll preach I got saved and when I listened to Tony Evans this morning I was saved two more times. I hope before I finish this message that I am to preach today that I will be saved at least one more time.”

What did Dr. Rodmacher mean? Was Dr. Rodmacher suggesting that a person could loose their salvation only to recover it multiple times throughout their life? No, Dr. Rodmacher was too careful a student of the Bible to preach such error. Then what did he mean? Dr. Rodmacher was communicating that all too often we have too narrow of an understanding of God’s great salvation. We tend to think of salvation only in the sense of one’s escape from God’s judgment and escape from God’s condemnation and only in the sense of the forgiveness of sins that is offered to us in Jesus.

To be sure, this is the first and the foundational blessing of our salvation in Jesus Christ, but God’s work of saving grace is much more than that. The Bible teaches that the salvation believers receive from God comes to us in three phases. There is a past tense to our salvation; that is to say we have “been” saved. Ephesians 2:8, says,

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…

Then there is also a “present tense” to our salvation; that is to say that we are still being saved. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, the Scripture will declare,

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

And the Scripture also speaks of a “future tense” in regards to our salvation; that is to say one day we will be saved completely and fully. This, I believe, is what Paul is referring to in Philippians 3:20b-21, when he says,

20 …we eagerly await a Savior from (Heaven), the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who…will transform our lowly bodies so that (we) will be like his glorious body.

We will be transformed in body and also in spirit so that we will experience the perfection of Jesus Christ. We will no longer wrestle and struggle with sin and temptation and corruption. We will be like Jesus. What a wonderful salvation we have in Jesus.

If someone asks you, “Have you been saved,” you can say, “Yes, I have been saved.” If someone asks you, “Are you still being saved,” you can say, “Thank God, yes, I am still being saved!” If someone asks you, “Will you one day be saved,” you can say, “Yes, praise God, one day I will be saved completely and saved fully. Yes, yes, and yes!”

In this study we consider the full measure of God’s salvation as we study this passage, Acts 24:22-27. I believe that the full aspect of God’s salvation is revealed to us in Paul’s conversation with Felix. Paul is, as we are aware, under arrest in the city of Caesarea. A trial has been held in which Paul has been accused by the Jewish leaders of sedition, of heresy, and of desecrating the Temple. The prosecuting attorney, Tertullus, has presented his case and Paul has defended himself before this Roman governor, Felix. Felix, now, has a decision to make in regards to Paul, in his guilt or in his innocence, but Felix is in a quandary. If he finds Paul, who is a Roman citizen, guilty he realizes that he is going to have to answer to Caesar, underneath Paul’s appeal of that sentence. And yet, if he finds Paul not guilty, as the evidence reveals, he will suffer a deadly political blow as the Jews will turn against him even more. What is a Roman governor such as Felix to do in this situation? We read about that in Verse 22,

22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.”

Felix did what many political leaders do in such a quandary, he delayed. He said, “I am not going to decide right now;” he stalled. Felix also said, “When Lysias comes I will decide your case,” but there is no indication that he even sent for Lysias. He certainly had the power to do so and Lysias, for the next two years while Paul was in prison as Felix remains governor, never show up. He never comes to testify and, furthermore, Lysias is already given his testimony. We have a letter that Lysias has written to Paul as learned in Acts 23, and part of that letter, in Verse 29, Lysias will say,

29 “I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment.”

How much clearer of a testimony do you need? Felix is stalling and procrastinating on making a decision.

In Verse 23, we find that Felix

23 …ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.

Paul did not have the freedom to move about the city or to leave the city. He was confined to a specific place under Roman guard, but he did have the freedom to receive visitors and to receive comfort from the visitors; they could bring food, clothing, books, and what ever else they thought that Paul might benefit from. It wasn’t hard time, so to speak, but none-the-less it was undoubtedly a difficult time as he was not able to leave the confines of that particular prison.

We have to ask the question: what was Felix’ motivation for keeping Paul in prison for two years, for not deciding the case, and for leaving him there even though he found no reason to find him guilty? Verse 26 and 27 help us with this motivation.

26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

Felix considered that Paul had some money. We don’t know exactly why he thought that Paul had some money, maybe Paul did have some money, but Paul was not going to bribe Felix, which Felix was hoping for. This indicates what greed does to a person. A greedy man never has enough. Here is Felix, one of the wealthier ones in the community, he is a man with power, but he still doesn’t have “enough” and he is willing to sacrifice his integrity to get more. Be careful of the sin of greed. It will corrupt your soul.

Then we read in Verse 27,

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

There was a political motivation as well behind his delay and he desired political favor. During these two years Felix did have one advantage, along with Felix’ wife, Drusilla, and that was that they were able to talk with Paul as often as they wanted and as long as they wanted about anything that they wanted. Evidently they did so.

Verse 24 says,

24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.

It is interesting the subject matter that Paul undoubtedly directed in regards to what they were going to talk about. Paul was not interested in talking about trivia. Paul did not talk about the politics of Rome, as interesting as that might have been. He did not talk about the gossip of the personal lives of the Caesars and others in power of the day. Paul did not regale Felix with the stories of his adventures as he traveled through Asia Minor. Paul did not talk with Felix and Drusilla about the beauty of Roman architecture. No, he didn’t talk about any of these temporal subjects. Instead, Paul sets an example for you and for me by talking to this governor, a very important man, about eternal matters. Paul was not interested in currying favor. He was not interested in being a “man pleaser”. He was interested reaching individuals with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That was his passion, and whether he was talking to a pauper or whether he was talking to a governor, his subject matter was the same: he talked about God, about salvation, about Jesus, about the cross, about the resurrection, and about the necessity, as it says here, of faith.

Luke records only a brief sketch of the subject matter of Paul’s conversations. He gives us, just briefly what specifically they did talk about, but the good news is that we can fill in the blanks behind the Luke records. How can we do so? We can because we have the letters that Paul wrote about these very subjects and undoubtedly what he wrote in these letters are the very things that he spoke to Felix and to Drusilla in reference to these matters of faith in Jesus Christ.

What specifically did Paul talk about? The first consideration is the condition to receive God’s salvation. This is a subject matter that Paul specifically spoke to Felix and Drusilla about. What is that condition? It is faith alone.

We are also going to study three phases of God’s salvation for sinners because I believe that is what Paul talked about with Felix and Drusilla.

It tells us, in Verse 24, that Paul spoke about faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible is amazingly clear on this – that the soul condition upon a man or a woman, in order to receive the benefit of God’s grace and the benefit of the salvation procured for us by Jesus Christ, His work on the cross, and His resurrection, is faith alone. Paul would have spoken about his faith in Jesus and he would have spoken about Jesus, who He is and what He did and the historical facts behind Jesus. He would have talked about the meaning behind those facts.

Paul understood that the Gospel is not simply an emotion or simply a leaning of one’s personality or a religious feeling, but it had to do with some specific “truths”; truths in regard to who Jesus is, what He did, what those truths mean, and an interpretation of those truths. That is what Paul talked to Felix about.

Paul talked to Felix directly about Felix’ and Drusilla’s need to personally respond, in faith, to Jesus Christ. Paul did not speak of Felix’ need to obey the Law of Moses, nor of Felix’ need to become more “religious”, nor even of Felix’ need to become a nicer person. These subjects would have been tempting for most people to talk to a man and woman such as Felix and Drusilla, because Felix was surely deficient in all of these. Felix was deficient in his obedience to the Law and it was very evident by all that that was so. He was deficient in his integrity. He was deficient in his religiosity. He was deficient in even being a nice guy. Felix was none of these.

Bear with me as we speak for a moment of the biography of Felix that we have from secular sources. Felix was born a slave. The mother of Claudius, who is going to be Caesar in the future, took kindness upon Felix and his brother Pallus. She bought Felix and Pallus out of slavery and there Felix and Pallus were raised around this dear woman’s house and Pallus, in particular, became very close friends with Claudius. Claudius eventually is going to become the Emperor of the Roman Empire; he is a pretty good friend in high places as far as this world is concerned. Pallus used his influence to obtain for his brother, Felix, a governorship. Felix became the first slave in all of Roman history, up to this point, to ever become a governor over a Roman Province. This is pretty spectacular and his life was working out pretty well, but Felix was a very cruel ruler. He repeatedly, for instance, would crucify the leaders of various uprisings, so he used that form of execution that was most cruel. He hired robbers, for instance, to murder the High Priest Jonathon because he didn’t like him.

Drusilla, his wife, he met while Drusilla was married to another man. Felix found her very beautiful and it is recorded that she indeed was extremely beautiful. He enticed her away from her husband, first through adultery and ultimately marrying her.

The Roman historian, Tacitus, describes Felix this way: “He was a master of cruelty and lust who exercised the powers of a king with a spirit of a slave.” So, we get the picture that Felix is not a “good guy”, so it would have been tempting for Paul, in considering a conversation with Felix, to talk to Felix about his need for good works, his need to start living more “cleanly”, and his need to become a “nicer” person. But instead, what did Paul talk about? Paul talked about Felix’ need to place his faith in Jesus Christ. Why, because faith in Jesus Christ is God’s condition for a person to receive His grace, to be forgiven, and to be made new.

Paul knew that what Felix needed was not some sort of personal reformation or some personal change to clean up his life, but Paul knew that this man, Felix, was striving for more power and for more things. That became evident to Paul and yet Felix’ life was empty and it was corrupt and he knew that such a person cannot live joyful in this world and with peace in their heart. He knew that Felix needed something: he needed new life and that this new life would only be found through Jesus Christ and that Felix needed to submit himself to Jesus as Savior and to Jesus as Lord.

Paul knew that Jesus is the answer to live life that is truly life and to find God, to find forgiveness, and to find hope.

Remember in Acts 16 when the Philippian jailer, who was also not acquainted and submissive to Jesus and who undoubtedly had areas of his life where there was great sin, in fear and trembling in that jail cell, the jailer cried out, in Verse 30, “What must I do to be saved?” What was Paul’s answer, in Acts 16:31?

31 …”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…

This is Paul’s constant call from God for man. Paul will write in his letter to the church at Rome, in Romans 10, these familiar words,

9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

What is the condition to be saved? It is the condition of faith and we must believe.

We ask a couple of questions. Why is faith the only condition that God places upon us to receive forgiveness. The answer is: Jesus did a complete work in saving us. Jesus is no “half-Savior”; “I will take you half-way and you can take yourself the rest of the way.” No, Jesus is a 100% Savior and it is impossible for you and me to add to the work of Jesus or to in anyway to diminish our sin through our own good works. Our only hope is Jesus Christ and that is why the constant call of Scripture is, “Believe!”

Another question that we may ask is: What does it mean to “believe”? Biblical faith always involves your mind, your emotions, and your will. Faith is a personal act of trust in Jesus Christ and His work for the forgiveness of one’s sin, for life, and for a right relationship with God. In this way, faith involving our intellect, our emotions, and our will is similar to the actions of a man and a woman when they commit themselves in marriage. Marriage for most is no thoughtless or flippant decision and neither is faith in Jesus Christ.

When I first saw my wife, Kimberly, my heart fluttered with emotion and I set a desire to get to know this young lady who is beautiful in every way that I can possibly see at the time. I had a desire to spend time with her and that emotion motivated me to take action. I did spend some time with her and as I spent time with her I discovered more about her; I learned. I learned what Kimberly is really like, how does she think, and what were her values, and as I discovered the answers to these questions my mind became convinced that she was just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside so my mind and emotions are engaged in regards to this woman and they both voted, “Yes!” to marrying Kimberly. Very soon after this took place my will joined this “electoral college” and my will said, “Yes, I willingly pledge to cherish this woman, to be faithful to this woman, and to serve this woman as long as I shall live.” My will stated that in a church before a group of family and friends because I wanted everyone to know that this was a commitment, a decision, of my will that was deep and abiding.

In like manner, faith in Jesus includes a response from our minds, our emotions, and our will. When we first begin to desire Jesus we find Him beautiful and we find Him wonderful and that there would be such a Savior. Then we affirm with our minds these truths about Jesus; that He is God come in the flesh, that He died upon the cross as a sacrifice for sin, that He arose the third day, and that His work on the cross was sufficient for our sin and for our lives and that His promise is true if only we would believe in Him then we, ourselves, would find eternal life and then our will engages and we commit ourselves to following Him as our Savior and our Lord and we make a personal commitment to say, “Yes, I need Jesus Christ as my Savior and as my Lord.” This is faith and this is what it means to believe.

Believing is not a very trite thing; that we simply add Jesus to the rest of our life. It is not simply walking down an aisle or praying a prayer, although it may happen and we express ourselves through walking down an aisle or praying a prayer, but faith includes these matters of our whole person. The sole condition to receive God’s salvation is faith.

We consider the next topic that Paul takes up with Felix and that is the three phases of God’s salvation for sinners. Paul says, in Verse 25, and I believe that this verse is pregnant with meaning. It is Paul’s discourse on three things: righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. Righteousness is phase one and is the past tense of our salvation. Self-control is phase two and is the present tense of our salvation. The judgment to come is phase three and is the future tense of our salvation.

Let us first consider phase one: God provides for us His righteousness and we can add to that the words, “alien righteousness”. What did Paul say about righteousness? Verse 25 says that the first thing Paul talked to Felix about was righteousness. Undoubtedly, Paul was both bold and personal. He didn’t talk about sin and righteousness in general categories, but undoubtedly he most specifically talked about righteousness. That is why Felix became afraid because it was being personally applied to him. He would have told Felix and Drusilla that God demanded righteousness before He could accept them and he would have pressed the point that Felix and Drusilla did not meet God’s standards of righteousness.

In Romans 3:10, which I quote often from the pulpit because I believe that it is most clear expressions of this biblical truth and is so essential to our souls and to our salvation, God says this of every man and woman born into this world,

10 …“There is no one righteous, not even one…”

Isn’t it grand and glorious that Paul was not afraid to meddle and to speak very boldly and personally to Felix about his sin and his need for righteousness? Friends, this is a good example for us today in our communication with unbelievers. We do not speak about unrighteousness very often today. We are very reluctant to talk about sin. We talk about immaturity, about fear, and about disease and sickness, but we don’t talk about righteousness very much in regards to the condition of man’s soul.

The truth that the Scripture provides for us in regards to righteousness is that God is righteous and as a result He demands righteousness from everyone who would be in a relationship with Him. That is what He demands. That is bad news because none of us are righteous, but here is the Good News of the Gospel: God provides for us a righteousness that He provides from Heaven itself.

In Romans 3 there are some wonderful verses, 21, 22, and 28. The Gospel explains to us how we might obtain a righteousness that is not our own and it doesn’t come from within ourselves, but it comes down to us as a gift from Heaven itself. This is the Good News of the Gospel and if we don’t understand this we don’t understand the Gospel. Paul would say, after declaring that there is no one righteous, not even one and that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory and short of God’s standard, in Verse 21,

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

Paul is saying that this whole book talks about this righteousness that is going to come from God and now it is realized. This righteousness from God comes how, in Verse 22:

22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Paul goes on to say in Verse 28,

28 …we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

When I mentioned the words “alien righteousness” those are a couple of words theologians use to speak of this righteousness because it is a righteousness from outside of ourselves. There is no hope to produce this righteousness from inside of ourselves, a “resident righteousness”, but we have to have a righteousness that is outside of ourselves, an “alien righteousness”, that is applied to our lives if we are to meet God’s standard. That is the Good News, isn’t it, that this righteousness is imputed to us through Jesus Christ.

Verse 28 speaks of us being “justified” and that is phase one of God providing for us a righteousness that is not our own. It is that phase that speaks of that wonderful truth called “justification” in Scripture. I know that is a large word and one that is difficult to understand so we ask the question, “What is justification?” One theologian describes it this way, “It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus as if they had not sinned on the grounds of the merits of Jesus as Savior. Justification is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses, but justification is an act by which God determines to treat the sinner, hereafter, as righteous.” That is justification. Isn’t it wonderful to think that we can receive a righteousness from God whereby God would treat us forever and ever as though we had met every demand that the Law had placed upon our lives; as though we were righteous as Jesus Christ? This is the precious truth of justification.

I enjoyed reading an illustration of justification which I believe clarifies this very well. There is a man in England who owned a Rolls Royce, and we know that a Rolls Royce is a very expensive car. He had his Rolls Royce shipped across the water to the continent. He was going to take a tour through continental Europe. He was driving around Europe and something happened to the motor of his car and it broke down. He called the Rolls Royce dealer in England and said, “I am having trouble with my car. What should I do?” They immediately flew a mechanic to meet him and the mechanic fixed his car and flew home. When he arrived home he expected to find some bill; how costly is it to fly a mechanic to Europe to fix his car, but nothing ever came. Finally, he wrote a letter to the Rolls Royce dealer and he asked how much money he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read, “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls Royce.” The company was going to protect their reputation and act as if nothing ever went wrong and charge no account.

This is the way God treats us. Isn’t it wonderful, when we begin to sense the shame and guilt and the weight of our sin and we begin to wonder about the condemnation of our sin, for those of us justified in Jesus Christ there is no record anywhere that we have done wrong. Isn’t that a wonderful truth and good news?

God’s provision of righteousness for the believer is a past event and takes place once and is never undone. The bell of God’s justice has been rung in our favor and cannot be unrung (Romans 8:1):

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

The application is: let us worship God and enjoy His grace.

The second phase is that God produces within us a righteous life through practical righteousness. Verse 25 tells us that Paul spoke to Felix of “self-control”. Self-control is the mark of the believer’s life. Self-control is one aspect of the fruit of God’s Spirit working in our life. Self-control is not something that human effort can produce to control ourselves away from sin and towards holiness. Apart from God’s salvation all of us are slaves to sin, but biblical faith produces a Godly life.

It is important for us to know the fullness of our salvation. It is not about being pardoned and it is not about being declared righteous and being free from the condemnation, but it is about salvation and the wonderful aspect of our salvation is about being free and liberated from the deadly power of sin over us to corrupt us and to hold us down. God produces within us, and He does make us righteous, progressively, over the course of our lives so that we have a practical righteousness.

Some people look at justification as some sort of “legal fiction”; it is imaginary, make-believe, and worthless because it is God declaring something that is nonexistent. That is not true. Our justification is always tied to regeneration, that is to say when we are saved not only are we declared righteous by God, but something happens inside of us and we are given a new life in Christ to live Godly lives before Him throughout the rest of our days.

Some reason, “Hey, if I have been saved on the basis of faith apart from works and I don’t need works to be saved and once I am saved I am saved from condemnation forever and ever, I can sin away in my life!” The Gospel is also news about self-control and practical righteousness. We can’t divorce the past phase of our salvation from the present phase of our salvation. If we tried to do so it is a sign that we may not be saved at all. If we say, “I am rejoicing that no longer am I held accountable for my sin, but I want no part of a present, on-going saving from the affects of sin in my life.” There is something desperately wrong with a life like that. In fact, 1 John 3:6 tells us,

6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

The life that is cavalier in regards to practical righteousness is a life that is manifesting a lack of God’s true work of grace in their life. Paul does not say that our faith is without works and a change of behavior, but it is that our faith justifies us apart from our works. Do you see the difference? Our faith does produce within us a desire to follow God and a desire to obey Him. It produces within us an on-going, practical righteousness that we embrace more and more in our spiritual lives. We cannot unglue the bond between justification and sanctification.

I love the story of the young girl who had accepted Christ as her Savior. She was applying for membership in her local church. An old deacon was interviewing her and he asked, “Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your life?” She replied, “Yes, sir.” He asked, “Are you still a sinner?” She said, “To tell you the truth, I feel I am a greater sinner than ever.” The deacon asked, “Then what real change have you experienced?” She said, “I don’t know quite how to explain it except that I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now that I am saved I am a sinner who is running from sin.”

The course of our direction makes all the difference, doesn’t it? If you are a sinner and you evaluate your life and say, “Yes, I am still a sinner running after sin,” I would encourage you to consider deeply the claims of the Gospel upon your life, because what happens when we are changed is that God produces a practical righteousness and we become a people who say, “Yes, sin is still nipping at out heels, but we are running away from sin and that is the change that God has made in our life. Also, God has provided us an empowerment so that we can successfully evade sin in our lives.”

Are you growing in Christ-likeness? Something is wrong if we are not. I urge you with this practical application: run through the tape. Don’t stop short and quit the race before the finish line. None of us who are yet alive have reached the fulfillment and the realization of the righteousness of Christ for our practical living. What often happens in our lives, as soon as we become a Christian, is that many of the big boulders of sin get removed and we cut down a lot of the brush that makes the landscape ugly. We remove the big boulders and we remove the brush and it looks “pretty good”, but then we sit back in our easy chair and we drink lemonade in our Christian life and without realizing it there is much more of the landscaping work yet to be done and we didn’t realize these small, little rocks and these small, little weeds until we cut out the first ones. All of our life is a pursuit of practical holiness. Run through the tape!

The last phase of salvation is that God perseveres with us to make us completely righteous with realized righteousness. In salvation there is an alien righteousness that is our and a practical righteousness that is ours and one day there will be a realized righteousness.

Paul not only talks to Felix about righteousness and self-control, but he also talks to him about “judgment”. For the believer, this day is one of absolute joy because it is the completion of God’s work of grace. This is what 1 John 3:2 aays,

2 …when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Isn’t that a wonderful joy? Keep this hope always before you. Romans 8:30 tells us,

30 …those he justified, he also glorified.

That is a great truth because it says that every one of us who has been justified will also be glorified. God is never rendered ineffective in His work of salvation to bring to completion that which He has begun. Every one of us has this precious hope: one day we will be absolutely glorified and we will have realized righteousness.

I hate sin. One of the greatest frustrations in life is my sin. I wake up and I think, “Why do I think the thoughts I do? Why do I have these attitudes? Why do I speak some of the words I do? Why do I take some of these actions?” This is a huge frustration. Again, thankfully, it is because of these frustrations that I have a source to go to find practical righteousness, but one of the helps to me, in the midst of my frustration over continually battling with sin and often failing in this area, is that one day I will be free. That is a fact and an absolute truth; one day I will be glorified and one day I will be like Jesus and I will no longer have to run away from sin because sin is no longer present in this place where God is. Isn’t that a joy?

I believe that Paul also told Felix how to be glorified in that judgment day and what could be his, but undoubtedly Paul also told him of the ending for those who reject Jesus and God’s salvation. Paul undoubtedly told Felix what he told the people on Mars Hill in Athens, in Acts 17: 31,

31 For (God) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.

What happened with Felix and how did he respond? Felix had several things going for him. Verse 25 tells us, “Felix was afraid”, and that word means that he was literally trembling. He came to the conviction that what Paul was telling him was true about him. He was gripped with the idea that he would stand before God and be held accountable by that God. A couple of things that Felix had going for him is that he understood the Good News. He had a friend, or someone, who was close enough to tell him the Good News. Secondly, he had this going for him: God had worked in his heart to make him fear God, to make him tremble, and to fear the Judgment Day. Those are great things to have going for us, but what did Felix do as he trembled and as he understood? It says in Verse 25,

25 …Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

My heart breaks for Felix. He is looking for a convenient time to submit his life to Jesus Christ. He procrastinated. He delayed and he lost. There is no indication in Scripture that Felix ever found a “convenient time” and that Felix ever responded to the Gospel. This is where many find themselves today. They have heard the Gospel from someone they trusted. Maybe that is where you are. They understood the Gospel story and they understood its meaning. They perhaps even became convicted of sin and convicted of the judgment to come, and yet they say to themselves, “I want to live life a little bit more on my own before I do that. I love this world and I don’t want to give it up just yet. I will wait for a friend (or a husband or a wife) to respond and then I will go with them. I am not sure yet if I want to make that decision.”

The Bible tells us very clearly, “Behold, now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation.” Friend, procrastination steals salvation from the sinner’s soul. Two tragedies can happen to a sinner. One is: that sinner lives all of their life and they never tremble. It is possible to say, “I have been here and I have heard the Gospel over and over again. I just have never been afraid.” Friends, may God be gracious to you and may He help you see the reality of the future.

The other tragedy would be that you would tremble but you don’t believe. Your mind understands and your emotions are stirred, but you will does not commit.

Let me close with a couple of practical applications. First, be bold in your proclamation of the Gospel. Tell the Gospel and all of its glory and in its fullness and all of its truth in regard to righteousness, in the truth in regard to sin, and in the truth in regard to judgment. It is so sad that so often our proclamation of the Gospel, that is modeled for us often times in preacher after preacher on television or in church after church, that the model for preaching the Gospel is to tell a message that people are not offended by and that doesn’t stir up fear.

I ask you, what do we accomplish if we please men? Paul knew that he would not have accomplished anything with Felix if that is what he did. He was faithful to God and he was faithful even to Felix and the dear Drusilla because this was a message that they needed to hear.

A second application is to pursue practical holiness. This is your inheritance in Jesus. Pursue it with a passion! Discipline yourself for Godliness. Let’s go and reach the righteousness that is ours and available to us through Christ.

Finally, consider eternity and consider the judgment of God. As a Christian consider the righteous judgment and the glory that will be ours, but also the accountability we have before God to be responsible for the grace that is given us.

Also, as an unbeliever, understand that your only hope is Jesus Christ.

Believe. Believe in Him.