Paul’s powerful preaching
I was reading Acts 24 tonight and it gave a gripping account of how the apostle Paul defended himself before the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea. I admire Paul’s eloquence and his ability to highlight the weaknesses of the false accusations spoken against him. Since Paul was bold in talking about his beliefs and pointed out that it was because of his faith that he was brought to trial, it piqued Felix’s curiosity and he asked Paul to return a few days later to explain in more detail about faith in Christ to him and his wife Drusilla, who according to Josephus was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the same Herod who killed James, the brother of John, and died not long after James’s martyrdom.
As Paul expounded on the gospel of our Lord Jesus, the scripture says “he reasoned.” This means he gave a well-thought-out discussion. In his discussion, Paul spoke of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. And his reasoning was done so well that Felix, the powerful Roman governor, trembled with fear at what he heard. So what could Paul have said that made Felix shake in his shoes?
Obviously Paul gave to Felix the full counsel of God and didn’t hold back. He preached in accordance with how God taught him to preach.
Paul’s preaching on righteousness
According to what we see in the New Testament, preaching on righteousness encompasses several important topics. Preaching about righteousness means that one has to explain that God wants us to be in good standing with him. And when speaking about being in good standing with God, one would have to point out that without Jesus Christ as our Lord, we are spiritually dead in our sins and cannot make ourselves right with God, for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. Making feeble attempts to purge ourselves of sin without God is being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and by going about to establish our own righteousness, we have not submitted ourselves to the righteousness of God [Romans 10:3].
Preaching about righteousness then must also include the fact that God sent his only begotten son Jesus to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the sins of mankind. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He is the only one who has the power to counteract the sin nature we inherited from Adam. So if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation [Romans 10:9-11].
Paul’s preaching on temperance
Temperance is self-control, or the ability to master one’s ungodly desires and passions. Temperance is what God wants all men everywhere to have so this world will be a better place than it is when fallen mankind selfishly does what is right in his own eyes regardless of the negative affects on others. It results from having faith in Christ and demonstrates to God that a person is serious about living a life that pleases God. Having temperance is a clear message to God that one considers a relationship with him of the utmost importance.
Paul’s preaching on the judgment to come
Earlier in Acts 24, Paul spoke of the resurrection both of the just and the unjust. And tied to the resurrection of the dead is the purpose for their resurrection–the judgment to come. According to the scriptures, it is a time when people will be rewarded by the Lord if they have lived in his righteousness with temperance. The benefits they will receive will include reigning with Christ over the earth. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. This is what the judgment to come holds for all who choose not to follow Christ.
These are the things Paul probably touched on and it convicted Felix so deeply that he trembled. But unfortunately he didn’t tremble enough to get saved. And it is doubtful Drusilla his wife did either. During the time of Titus’s reign, Drusilla and her son Agrippa perished in the eruption of Vesuvius.
Was Paul spot on?
Paul apparently gave Felix and Drusilla what they needed to hear. It’s perfectly fine to tell people “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or that “You have a God-sized hole in your heart that only Jesus can fill,” but sometimes people need to be told something different and we must use God’s wisdom as to when those times may be.
I recently received a comment that I chose not to display from a gay rights activist who claims Paul’s teachings were not in line with Christ’s since Christ never spoke against homosexuality and the person implied that his writings should not be in the New Testament. This is a common argument from critics of the New Testament. So were Paul’s teachings spot on or way off?
I covered in a previous post about the historical and scientific accuracy of the New Testament, including Paul’s writings. Luke, Paul’s biographer, is the writer who introduces us to Paul and commends Paul as a genuine Christian and genuine apostle. History has proven that Luke wrote the truth about people, places, and events such as Ananias being the high priest, Felix being a Roman governor, Festus being the governor who succeeded Felix, that the Greeks actually had a temple in Athens dedicated to the “Unknown God”, and that the Roman emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome. Luke has shown himself to be accurate in his history and science in his gospel and the book of Acts, so since he has proven to be trustworthy in earthly things, we can also trust him on the spiritual things. Therefore, since Luke trusted Paul’s integrity and genuineness as a true Christian, so can we.
Paul also has a second witness in the New Testament. Peter the apostle, who history has proven was a genuine follower of Christ and genuine writer in the New Testament, said– “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:15-16]
Not only did Peter call Paul a “beloved brother”, acknowledging him as a genuine Christian, he verified that Paul’s writings were scripture when he criticized Paul’s critics for twisting what Paul said like they twist “other scriptures.” He would not have used “other” if he did not consider Paul’s writings scripture since the word is an inclusive word.
Jesus Christ did, in fact, speak against homosexuality when he explained marriage and God’s original and ongoing intentions for it–”But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” [Mark 10:6-9]
God meant for males to join in marriage to females. That means those with xy chromosomes are intended by God to be married to those with xx chromosomes. A man should leave his parents to marry a wife, a female. This is the type of union God has joined together and man should not put it asunder by adultery, unjustifiable divorce, or homosexuality.
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