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The Light Shines On A Governor Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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October 21, 2022 1:00 am

The Light Shines On A Governor Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 21, 2022 1:00 am

Many today ignore their conscience when confronted with Christianity. The Apostle Paul spoke directly to Felix, causing the Caesarean governor to become uncomfortable. In this message, we overhear Paul’s words about righteousness, self-control, and coming judgment. Are we willing to sacrifice being comfortable in the here and now?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Paul the apostle had appealed to Caesar in a conflict with Jewish authorities. This meant facing the Roman governor in ancient Caesarea.

As waves lapped on the nearby shore, Governor Felix came face to face with a man the likes of whom he'd never seen. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Paul's focus on getting to Rome put him before several Roman authorities on the way. The gospel was being spread unwittingly by the Romans themselves. And you know, the apostle Paul even appealed to his citizenship so that he could be prevented from being beaten.

And of course, as you mentioned, he eventually came to Rome. I want to ask all those who are listening today this question. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?

That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Here's what you can do. Go to Now when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button. And I need to tell you that if you become an endurance partner during the month of October, we'll send you a copy of my brand new book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. Consider helping us on a regular basis.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Become an endurance partner so that we can get the gospel to even more people. But now let us listen to the experience of the apostle Paul. We're so glad that you have joined us today and we've had a wonderful time of worship. And now it's my privilege to preach the word of God.

And I pray that the blessed Holy Spirit of God who's been poured out upon the church might be with us in a tremendously powerful way. You listen to the voice of the Spirit. Today I'm going to speak to you about the role of conscience. All of us have a conscience, even if you were born into a home with no special boundaries, you have a conscience. If you were born into a home that had special boundaries and was more strict, your conscience might be more strict. But this I do know that all of us have a conscience.

And the question is how do we violate it and are there times when we know right well what is right and good and we do the opposite. Well, in order to illustrate this, I'd like to speak today about a man who was a governor confronted by the truth. The story is recorded for us in the 24th chapter, the 24th chapter of the book of Acts.

And I want you to turn to it, please. If you remember in context, the apostle Paul was arrested for causing a riot in Jerusalem. Now he didn't actually cause that riot in Jerusalem, but he was accused of it.

And that happens to be in the preceding chapter. And he is escorted from Jerusalem at night to Caesarea. And the reason is because he appealed to Caesar. He said that he was a Roman citizen.

So the Jews that were there in Jerusalem didn't want to deal with the issue. They said, what we want you to do is to go to Caesarea where they would meet the governor Felix. And that's the story.

And that's the background of our text today. Now you'll notice that when the apostle Paul gets there, he is accused of a various number of things. That's in chapter 24 of the book of Acts. Acts chapter 24, because a delegation goes down from Jerusalem to Caesarea.

We're talking 50 or 60 miles. And this delegation goes before the governor with a hope of accusing the apostle Paul and making sure that he stays in prison. And you'll notice that they hire someone by the name of Tertullius. That's in chapter 24, verse 1. As spokesman, one Tertullus. And he was to lay before the governor their case. I'm amused there in verse 2, where it says, since through you, he's speaking to Felix, chapter 24 of Acts, verse 2, through you we enjoy much peace.

And since by your foresight, most excellent Felix reforms are being made for this nation in every way and everywhere, we accept this with all gratitude. Actually, I need to tell you that Felix was a very evil person. He was a person who actually hired robbers to crucify people he didn't like. But this man is flattering him and saying nice things about him. And now he makes three accusations against the apostle Paul.

And if you fail to bring your Bible with you today, we're on page 933 of the Bible that is there in your seats. You'll notice he says in verse 5, for we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world. This charge was a political charge. If there's anything that Rome didn't like, Rome didn't like people who stirred up riots. Now was it true?

No, it wasn't true. Paul didn't begin a riot in Jerusalem by any stretch of the imagination. His presence there sparked a riot because people detested him and they began to riot when he came into the temple area.

But he did not begin any riot in Jerusalem. But nonetheless, they accuse him of it. The second charge against Paul is a religious one. You'll notice it says that he also is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

That was spoken with contempt. You remember Jesus was born in Nazareth. Jesus was born in Nazareth and therefore he was called a Nazarene and Nazareth was the wrong side of the tracks.

If you were a Nazarene, that was an insult to be called one. So when he says that he's a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, that's a religious charge that is intended to elicit within Felix contempt. And then there's a third charge that he tried to profane the temple.

That would be a ceremonial charge. None of these were true, but they were presented because they did not like Paul and they did not like the gospel that the apostle Paul was proclaiming. And you'll notice that Christianity, you remember the series of this message, the title of the series is Light in a Dark Place because Christianity always bumps up against the culture and the culture not liking the message of Christianity, rejects it, marginalizes it, intends to shut the mouths of people. And this is happening today here in the United States of America. Yesterday on the internet, there was this headline. Florida principal, athletic director could go to jail for prayer before lunch at school. And then the article reads a principal and an athletic director in Florida could be charged with crimes and spend six months in jail after they prayed before a meal at a school event. The Washington Times reported. Check more of those kinds of headlines in the future. That's a whole separate story, but simply know that Christianity always bumps up against its culture.

Light always dissipates darkness, but people prefer darkness. And so what they try to do is to make sure that Christians keep their mouths shut. And that's what they were doing here to the apostle Paul.

All right, all that to say this. Paul is given the opportunity of making a defense. You can read it there on your own because I'm interested in this man, this governor by the name of Felix. You'll notice that the apostle Paul speaks and then it says in verse 22, but Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the way, put them off, namely the delegation that came from Jerusalem to Caesarea to accuse Paul.

Let's stop there saying for a moment. Felix has a rather accurate knowledge of the way. Now, how does Felix have this knowledge of the way? Actually, the way was an expression in New Testament times for Christianity. We encountered it earlier in the book of Acts where it talked about the way because Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.

No man comes to the father, but by me. So Christianity was tagged as the way. And Felix has a rather accurate knowledge of the way. Where did he get it from? Well, I think that he was exposed to the truth. Maybe he had his own sources, but another possibility is he got it through his wife who perhaps knew a great more deal about Christianity than he did.

So let's read the next verses and then I'll explain to you exactly why I said that. You'll notice it says, he said to the Jews, when Alyssius the tribune comes, that's a messenger, a political messenger, I will decide your case. Then he gave orders to the centurion that he would be kept in custody, but some liberty and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. In other words, he knew Paul was innocent. So what he did is though, he didn't release him. He put him in jail and custody and said, but let his friends come, give him a great deal of freedom. And I'm sure that Paul appreciated that. After some days, verse 24, Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who is Jewish and he sent for Paul.

Stop right there. Who in the world is this woman whose name is Drusilla? Drusilla had been married to the king of Syria, one of Syria's kings in those days. She was married off by her brother at the ripe age of 14 and she became this man's wife. Now evidently she was a very beautiful woman. As a matter of fact, the record states that she was more fair, more beautiful than all the other women. So what happens is Felix sees her, is attracted to her, and so he lures her away from her husband and encourages her to marry him and she will be his third wife.

And she marries him at the age of 16. This information comes to us from Josephus who gave us a great deal of history to fill in the gaps. But who was Drusilla? She was a part of the Herod family. The Herod family, and when you stop to think of it, they were all cruel rulers. There are six Herods in the New Testament and sometimes when you're reading, it's difficult to keep them straight.

You almost need a Bible dictionary to know who the players are. But they were cruel and they had an eye for women. They were all promiscuous and let's find out a little bit more about her background. Her great grandfather was Herod the Great. Now you remember Herod the Great?

He's the one who killed his wife, killed some of his family, very evil, very cruel, and also killed all of the boys who were two years of age and under around the environs of Bethlehem in order to try to kill Christ. His family had escaped into Egypt, but the point is that's the Herod who was her great grandfather. Her uncle was the Herod who killed John the Baptist.

Remember how the young woman danced before Herod and he loved her and said, I'll give you half my kingdom and she asked for the head of John the Baptist and he gave it to her? Now that was her uncle. What about her father? Would you take a moment and just turn to Acts chapter 12?

I want to make a couple of comments about her father. When it says in Acts chapter 12 verse 1, about that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James and so forth.

That is her dad. He was also evil, tried to kill Peter also, but Peter escaped. Do you remember the story?

As a matter of fact, it says in verse 7, behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to Peter and a light shone in the cell and the angel struck Peter on the side and woke him saying, get up quickly. And you know the rest of the dramatic story. This is Herod. I want you to notice how he ends, how he dies. It says in verse 20, now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon because they came to him with one accord and having persuaded blast us the king's Chamberlain, they asked for peace because their country depended on the king's country for food. Now here's the deal. These people in Tyre and Sidon, they offend the king.

We don't know exactly why. He goes to see them. He's angry about them. He meets them in Caesarea and they are there because they're dependent upon his goodness. Verse 21, on an appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne. There was also a throne room in Caesarea and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting the voice of a God and not a man. Amazing. And he didn't rebuke them.

Immediately. Verse 23, an angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not give God the glory and he was eaten with worms and breathed his last. And then Luke in an understatement says, but the word of God increased and multiplied.

And I would say, yeah, I think it would under these conditions. Now, did you notice something? I read it to you. Verse 7, an angel of the Lord strikes Peter and says, get out of here. An angel of the Lord comes and strikes this man and he dies and is eaten of worms. Of course, I can't prove it, but I like to think it might've been the same angel. God has many, many different angels and perhaps he gave one assignment to one angel and another assignment onto another.

I don't know, but isn't it interesting? An angel of the Lord causes Peter to live and to escape and an angel of the Lord causes this evil man to die. Now, when that happened, when that happened, little Drusilla was six years old and this was her father who died in such an ignominious way. Well, there's so much we could say about her father. Also, apparently he dressed himself in shimmering silver clothes and it gleamed in the light and the delegation wanted to appease him and said, oh, the voice of a God.

And he accepted the honor and died. Perhaps it was Drusilla that clued the festus in on the fact that Christians aren't these people that you think they are. They're not the kind of people who begin riots. There are people who are persecuted, who are being put to death, who are being tortured, and she may have given him some inside information. And that's why the Bible says that Felix had a rather accurate knowledge of the way he understood Christianity. Christians do not begin riots.

Sometimes their presence may evoke riots, but they don't begin them. So you'll notice that he was exposed to the truth, but it becomes more interesting now because not only was he exposed to the truth, but also please notice that he is now confronted with the truth, confronted with it. I'm back in verse 24. After some days, Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Oh, by the way, the Harrods were actually from Moab. They were Moabites, but they accepted the Judaistic religion. And even though some of the true Jews suspected them, yet they were known as Jewish. She was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Jesus Christ. And as Paul reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, go away for the present. You'll notice that the Apostle Paul is brought in.

Oh, I wish that they had had tape recorders in those days so that the conversation would have been taped, and if we could try to translate it into English so that we would hear what happened. But Paul is brought into this environment now, and he talks about faith in Christ. And there are people today who say, well, you know, we just need to get people to believe in Jesus, faith in Christ. Well, that's wonderful, but the problem for the people who hear that is, well, why do I need faith in Christ? I'm a good person.

You hear that all the time. Why believe in Jesus? So the Apostle Paul helped him and his wife understand why they should put their faith in Jesus. The scripture says that Paul reasoned to them about righteousness. Righteousness is holiness. It's God's high standard. Here was a man and a woman who had violated righteousness many, many times.

I, of course, feel sorry for Drusilla because she was, in a sense, a pawn in a political game, but Felix knew what he was doing. And he understood that he had been evil, and so the Apostle Paul was helping him see that. You see, you can't believe on Jesus and be saved unless you know that you're a sinner and you need saving. It was the righteousness of God that caused Martin Luther to have all of the anxiety and doubts that he had because Luther understood that the righteousness of God is so much beyond us. It's not human righteousness to a higher power. Righteousness of God is God's holy, high indescribable standard, and Luther understood that God does not accept us unless we are as holy as he himself is. Luther got that straight. Many people today think, oh, you know, they'll just wiggle into heaven because they'll show up and say, well, I've been good. You've been good.

You will be lost forever. It's good to be good, but it doesn't get you into heaven. That's why the Bible says that Jesus Christ gave himself the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. And the good news of the gospel is that when you receive Christ as Savior, you are credited with the righteousness of God. And legally, you are as righteous as God, and God allows you into heaven on the basis of Jesus. We are saved on the basis of his merit and not our own. That's why, as Christians, we sing clothed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

That is the gospel. So Paul reasons with them about righteousness. He reasons with them about self-control, about what the Bible says. And he's speaking to people who didn't have a whole lot of self-control and who destroyed their own selves by Felix, by wanting this young woman to leave her husband to come over to him.

They broke up two marriages in order that he might get what he wanted. And so the Apostle Paul reasons about that. And then coming judgment. You'll notice, oh, that's why we have to believe in Jesus. Judgment is coming, and it is an individual judgment. Would you take a moment right now and visualize you standing alone in the presence of God? That's sobering, isn't it? Judgment is coming, and it's going to be individual. Every one of us is going to give a count of himself to God. Let me ask you this question. Do you benefit from the ministry of running to win? Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's somebody who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Here's what you do. Go to

When you're there, you can click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. And for all who become endurance partners during the month of October, we're going to be sending a copy of my brand new book entitled No Reason to Hide. Chapter six of my book deals with the issue of propaganda. Do you realize what propaganda is? It intends to reshape reality in such a way that no matter how much evidence to the contrary might exist, people will not change their minds. How do we discover propaganda? How do we combat it?

And could we ourselves be victims of propaganda? Well, that's just one issue. Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

When you're at our website,, you can click on the endurance partner button or contact us personally, 1-888-218-9337. Paul used every opportunity to confront those he met with the Gospel. Facing Paul, Felix and his wife, Drusilla, found themselves under conviction as their own sins were brought to light. Next time on Running to Win, we resume the story of Paul explaining righteousness to an unrighteous man. Plan to join us.

It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastor's book, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture, will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support Running to Win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Online go to

That's Or write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-19 17:32:04 / 2022-11-19 17:40:42 / 9

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