Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
Felix was a Roman governor in Caesarea, Rome's headquarters in what is now Israel. Facing Paul, Felix and his wife Drusilla found themselves confronted with the Gospel, which brought their own sins to light. Today we watch as the Gospel works its power in the ancient world. 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, your series is Light Shining in Darkness, and that darkness included that in the souls of Felix and his wife.
That's right, Dave. As a matter of fact, the darkness-light motif is found throughout the New Testament as an example of those who come to saving faith in the light and those who continue to walk in darkness. And I have to say that we're living at a time when darkness is considered to be light, and light is considered to be bigotry. That's why I wrote the book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. We need to know the difference between darkness and light, and I'll be saying more about that at the end of this message, but you can go to rtwoffer.com.
For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. And as I emphasized at the end of this message, I will be giving some further comments about darkness and light. For now, let us listen. 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, 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? Nothing but reality, no attorney to appeal to, to make it look better, to tweak it, to make you sound a little bit better, nothing but reality. And God shows you your life, your background, who you are, the country that you were born in, the opportunities that you had, the ones you accepted and the ones that you neglected.
And all of that becomes present to you in the presence of God. It is an individual judgment. It's a compulsory judgment. If you know anything about courts, you know that people phone in and say, well, I can't make it. And so the case is deferred. I'm sorry. When God calls your name, you will be there. It is a compulsory judgment.
It is individual. It is totally thorough, totally thorough. I'm speaking to those of you now who have never received Jesus Christ as savior. Your judgment will be so thorough, so complete. The Bible says even regarding all people that God will disclose the motives of men's hearts.
Can you get any more thorough and complete than that? And Paul reasoned with him regarding coming judgment. So notice that he was exposed to the truth. He was confronted with the truth. And what does Felix do?
Well, let's read the text and find out what he does. He is convicted by the truth. You'll notice it says, and Felix trembled. Our translation says he was alarmed.
The arrow had hit his target, its target. Paul was right dead on, got right to his heart, and Felix shook. Are you under conviction like that today? If the truth is known, you are so uneasy, you can hardly wait until this meeting is over.
Take care. I hope that you respond differently than Felix did because he made the wrong decision with what he knew. Felix trembled. It's amazing that we as people don't like truth. We are enemies of truth. Having been exposed to the light, Felix preferred the darkness where he could hide. He preferred the darkness in ways that we shall see in just a moment. You and I are so filled with self-protection, such a willingness to rationalize, such a willingness to ignore the truth.
And if we can't ignore it, we tweak it and we rationalize it. A number of years ago, my wife and I were in England where I led a tour to the sites of the reformation in England and Scotland. And the guide that we had with us was a pleasant woman, and we got along very, very well, but she was an atheist. And she wanted us to know up front that she was an atheist. So as you can imagine, we had some interesting discussions during down times. But I remember we attended a church. And you know, guides are supposed to stay with the group that they're caring for and so forth, and she was very good at that. But she left us at the door of the church and said, when it's over, I'll pick you up.
I'll be here for you. And I was thinking, well, why wouldn't she come to church? Is that so bad? You know, you don't agree with it. You just think that they're talking a bunch of fairy tales. I mean, just endure it. Listen, there's something about us today. We don't even want to hear it.
Don't tell me. Because we know that when it comes to the truth, it can be very convicting. Well, Felix, the Bible says, was alarmed.
He was convicted by the truth, but he did reject it. You'll notice, he says, Paul, come back some other time. Go away for the present.
When I get an opportunity, I will summon you. And now he shuns the truth. He shuts down his conscience. But notice what was really in his heart.
He says, when I get an opportunity, I'll summon you. At the same time, verse 26, he hoped that money would be given to him by Paul. You see, Paul had brought an offering. He'd brought an offering to the saints of Jerusalem.
That's one of the reasons he went to Jerusalem. And so Paul mentions that in his defense, which we didn't have time to read. Paul mentions that. So Felix is thinking, Paul's connected here.
Maybe I can get some money. And so he has Paul a number of times. You'll notice it says, so he sent for him often and conversed with him. He thought to himself, he hasn't given me money yet, but if I get him often enough and if I keep him in jail long enough, maybe he'll come through. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus and desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Knew right well the guy was innocent. But there in prison, the apostle Paul is going to know the presence of God because prison for Paul was just as much within the will of God as the good times were. If you have the faith to believe it, that's how you can handle your circumstances.
But back to Felix. If you summarize the life of this man who saw the truth, was confronted by it, was alarmed by it, and then so far as we know dies without responding to it. The bottom line is this, that he simply sacrificed.
He sacrificed eternity on the altar of the present. What he said was, all that I care about is the money, that's number one, that's the number of motivation, I hope Paul gives me a bribe, and number two, what do people think of me? There are some of you here who are listening right now, you've never trusted Christ as savior. And what is going through your mind with such clarity over and over again is this, if I become a Christ follower, if I believe in Jesus, what is my family going to say about me? What about my colleagues at work?
What about my relatives? What about it is something like Festus saying, I want to do the Jews a favor because what people think is more important than what God thinks. And like Festus and Felix, Festus also, he's the next ruler, you are putting them off and you're saying it doesn't matter, I'm going to stifle the voice that I know I should follow. And so Felix postpones, and it is often said that if you have this idea that someday I will do something, someday turns out to be no day.
You never do it, you put it off. You know, as I was thinking about this and preparing this message yesterday, I was thinking to myself that Felix has been dead now for, oh, what shall we say, roughly 1950 years. After he died, he was in eternity. And according to the Bible, he was in a place called Hades, not yet hell, but Hades, fully conscious, fully aware, fully remembering exactly the opportunity he had. We can prove that from scripture, good memory. And there he is knowing that eternity awaits. And he sacrificed it all because he was hoping for a bride, didn't want to confront his sin, and wanted to please the Jews. What an unbelievable tragedy.
I don't know how to put that clearer to you today. What a tragedy. Now there is someone in American history I thought of who somehow fits into the same category. He was not an evil person in the sense of Felix, but his name was Benjamin Franklin. My son-in-law gave me a copy of a long biography of Franklin. And so I've tried to look at it very quickly. I don't have time to read these books page by page.
Life is passing me by. But what I was interested in is Franklin's relationship with God. Now you know that he became great friends with the evangelist Whitfield. George Whitfield was a great preacher. George Whitfield used to speak to 7,000 to 10,000 people in Philadelphia and in Boston without a microphone. And people could hear him all the way to the end. One day Franklin was there, and I guess he got bored in hearing the message.
And it was an outdoor meeting. And he walked away and then measured later the number of feet that he could walk down the street and still hear Whitfield preach. They became very good friends. As a matter of fact, Franklin often had Whitfield stay with him. They had a deal that I'm sure Franklin appreciated, and so did Whitfield. And that is that Franklin would publish all of Whitfield's sermons. And so Franklin did that and made a lot of money. And it also made Whitfield famous. In the Pennsylvania Gazette, Benjamin Franklin on six occasions had the full text of Whitfield's sermons and referred to him at least another 40 times in his other publications.
So they became good friends. Now you can imagine Whitfield whose theme was ye must be born again. If you've ever read Whitfield's sermons, you know that he hammered on that because Jesus hammered on that. There's a famous Swiss theologian that I will not bother mentioning who believed that everyone was born again.
We just had to announce to them that they were. But Jesus said ye must be born again. So I have to ask you, are you born again? I'm not asking you whether you've prayed a prayer. I'm asking you, are you born again?
Jesus said without it, you can't get into the kingdom of heaven. Well, anyway, after Whitfield died, Franklin wrote these words. He says, Whitfield used to pray for me for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. And then just before Franklin died, he was asked about his faith and he said he believed in God as creator and he believed in the providence of God. When he was asked if he believed in Jesus, he said, yes, Jesus is a great teacher, a great moral teacher, the likes of which the world has not seen. But then he was asked whether he believed in the divinity of Jesus. And this is a quote. I have some doubts as to his divinity, though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it. And I think it needless to busy myself with it now when I expect soon I shall have an opportunity of knowing the truth with a lot less trouble.
In other words, he said, I'm dying and now I'll find out. Franklin was brilliant. I learned that from the biography.
Great deal of impact here in America regarding the convention and all that. Brilliant. But in the end, very foolish.
Don't wait until you die to find out whether or not it is so. It's too late, too late. That's exactly what Felix did. He trembled.
And yet he said no because of money, because of other people's opinions. He deadened his conscience. So where are you? I guess as I conclude, I want you to look into my eyes and that's easier to do now that I don't have the glasses I used to wear. Do you know that you have been born again, that you've received Christ as savior, that he's given you a new nature? Do you know that the righteousness of God has been credited to your account so that you stand before God as if you are Jesus?
Do you know that? Or are you like Felix? I'm a sinner. I'm convicted.
I'm alarmed. But please come back some other time. I don't know what else to say, folks. So when I don't have anything else to say, let's just pray. Father, I want to pray for all those who are listening to me today here in this sanctuary, as well as the internet around the world, who are basically good people, people who are quite convinced that they'll make it on their own.
They may believe in a prophet, but they do not believe in a savior, for only Jesus has the qualifications to be a savior. Would you, Father, today bring about a conviction that leads to faith? I don't know who you are here today, but if you've never trusted Christ as savior, would you do that right now?
I mean right now. I want you to say to Jesus, either silently or out loud, Jesus, I believe on you right now and receive you. Don't put it off. Eternity is long.
Time is short. Father, today for those who are struggling, overcome their struggle. In Jesus' name, Amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer and my friend, if you've never come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, now is the time to do that.
Admit your helplessness and your sin and receive the gift of eternal life. The Bible describes it as coming from darkness into light. And speaking of darkness, I want to say that there is darkness throughout the land, our land. Did you know that at Princeton University, 2 plus 2 is debated as to whether or not it is 4? I'm reading from the equitable math instructions given to teachers. It says white supremacy shows up in the classroom when the focus is on getting the answer right. Math is not objective. One of the professors who came from Romania says that this idea that even mathematics has to be subjected to social justice has him more afraid than communism.
He said at least in communist countries, 2 plus 2 was 4 and everyone agreed. These are the kinds of issues I discuss in my brand new book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. The book will enable you to understand our culture but also how to stand against our culture.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
I hope you have time to pick up a pencil. Write out rtwoffer.com. Of course, rtwoffer is all one word.
rtwoffer.com or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Dr. Lutzer is a prolific author and one of his most widely read books is One Minute After You Die. One skeptical listener is asking this, your premise starts with what happens one minute after death. What if heaven and hell don't even exist and there is no afterlife? Could we just simply no longer exist? Well, I have to ask you a question, my friend.
Who shall I take as an authority on this subject? You're suggesting that when we die, it ends everything. That's one point of view that is out there.
That, of course, is the position of atheism or naturalism. But when we read the New Testament, we're confronted with Jesus. And Jesus talked much about the life to come. And I believe that he is an authority. In fact, he said, I am he who is alive and was dead and am alive forevermore.
Amen. And have the keys of death and of Hades. I'm going with Jesus on this one.
Yes, it's true. In my book, One Minute After You Die, I assume that there is life after death, but I base what I teach on the Bible, both Old and the New Testament, to show that this life doesn't end at all. If you're counting on being extinguished, if you are counting on being annihilated and no longer in existence after death, I think you have taken the wrong course. Be sure to read the New Testament. Find out what Jesus is saying. The Jews wanted Paul dead. Paul appealed to Caesar and ended up in a Caesarea prison.
Years passed. Eventually, a new governor appeals to Rome's king in Palestine, Herod Agrippa. And so the Gospel was taken to ever-higher government levels. Next time on Running to Win, we turn to Acts chapter 25, where, in the person of Paul, light shines on a king.
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. Or, write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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