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THE POWER OF A FEW WORDS
Intro: Did you know that words possess great power? Wars have been waged and peace has been brokered, all through the power of words. Hopes have been bolstered and dreams have been shattered by the power of a few words. Families have begun and ended all because of the power of a few words. Words inspired Germans to follow a madman into a costly world war. Words inspired the collapse of the Communist system in the former Soviet Union. Whether we see it or not, words hold a tremendous power over our daily lives.
The Bible is full of statements regarding words and their power. Notice:
1. Pro. 6:2 - “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.”
2. Eccl. 5:3, “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.”
3. Matt. 12:36 - “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
4. John 12:48 - “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
As you can see, words are extremely important! Our text speaks of a man who experienced, first hand, the power of a few words. Felix, the Roman governor of Judea, is listening to Paul the Apostle preach concerning the Christian faith. As Paul preaches the Gospel, v. 24, Felix is moved, v. 25, by the words he hears. Today, I want to look in on this scene in the palace in Caesarea as Paul preaches to Felix. The words Paul used were full of meaning then, and they still are today. Just as they had a message for Felix 2,000 years ago, they still contain a powerful message today. Let’s think together on the thought, The Power Of A Few Words. It may be that these few words will come with a message to your heart from God this morning. Let’s notice the reasons why these words were so powerful in this man’s life.
I. SOME OF THESE WORDS CONFRONTED HIM
A. The Bible tells us that Paul “reasoned” with Felix and his wife Drusilla. This word means, “to mingle thought with thought; to discuss; to preach.” Paul used his time with the governor to declare unto him the truths of the Gospel. In fact, this seems to be the reason that Paul was sent for anyway, v. 24. As Paul preached, two of the areas of his sermon served as a direct confrontation to the life of Felix.
B. Paul preached about Righteousness. This word means “The state of him who is as he ought to be.” It refers to the state of being right. It is what God is, but man isn’t. It literally speaks of a state of moral and spiritual purity.
1. I think Paul preached about the righteousness of God - Ezra 9:15, “O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous.”; Psalm 50:6, “And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.”; 1 John 1:5, “...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Friend, God isn’t the “Man upstairs”, He is holy, righteous, almighty God. He is so holy and righteous that He cannot even look upon sin! Man, who is altogether sinful, cannot even enter into His presence in his own goodness or upon his own merit! God is righteous! Oh that the church and t he world could see that truth today!
2. I think Paul preached about the fact that this righteous God hates sin - Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” What man calls an accident, God calls an abomination. What man calls a blunder, God calls blindness. What man calls chance, God calls a choice. What man calls a disease, God calls a defect. What man calls error, God calls enmity. Man calls sin a trifle, God calls is a tragedy. Man says it is nothing but weakness, God says it is wickedness. The bottom line is this: God is holy, man is unholy. God is pure, man is impure. God is sinless, man is sinful. God is righteous, man is unrighteous. I think Paul pointed out the truth that man is a sinner and he stands condemned in the eyes of a righteous God. Perhaps Paul told Felix all about the righteousness of man, Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:10-12. Perhaps Felix is brought face to face with the fact that he is a lost sinner in need of a Savior, Rom. 3:23. He is made painfully aware that no man has the righteousness needed to stand before the presence of a holy, righteous God.
3. I think Paul told Felix that he could try to go to Heaven one of two ways. You can try to go through your own righteousness, Isa. 64:6, or you can go through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil. 3:9. Paul, no doubt told Felix that God’s requirement for entering Heaven was perfect righteousness, Matt. 5:20. Perhaps he heard the truth that a lost sinner could be made righteous through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Maybe Paul told him that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”, Romans 10:4. Maybe Paul told Felix how God bridged the gap between His Own holiness and man’s sinfulness through the person of His Son Jesus on the cross, 2 Cor. 5:21. Paul built the case that only the righteous would ever see God and that the only way to become righteous was through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 16:31, James 2:23; Romans 4:24-25.
(Ill. How these words must have touched the heart of Felix, because he was anything but righteous. In fact, he was noted in his day for excessively sinful living and that is saying a lot in ancient Rome. He engaged in drunken orgies, and he maintained his power through brutality and murder. He was a very wicked man. Maybe these words are speaking to your heart today. None of us will ever get to heaven unless we possess the perfect righteousness of Jesus and we can only get that righteousness by faith in Him!)
C. We are also told that Paul preached about Temperance. This word refers to “self-control”. When Paul preached about righteousness, he was dealing with their character, he was talking about who they were before God. When he speaks of temperance, he is talking about their conduct, or how they live before men. When Paul began to speak of self-control, he hits this couple squarely between the eyes.
Just as Felix was lacking in the righteousness department, he was also lacking in self-control. The name Felix means “Happy”, but this man was anything but happy. He had been married three times, he lived a life of constant orgies and parties, he was always in deep debt and he was in perpetual trouble with Emperor Nero. To put that last thought into perspective, getting called down by Nero for being too mean is like getting called down by the devil for being too bad! But, the text also refers to his wife, Drusilla. She was his third wife. She was the youngest daughter of King Herod Agrippa I, Acts 12:1-4; 20-23. According to history, she was a very beautiful Jewish woman. When Felix saw her, he hired a sorcerer to entice her to leave her husband and marry him. She did this. Together, they lived a live of open sin and terrible wickedness. Paul’s words must have sting this couple deeply! He may have even called out their sins by name, since everyone knew what they were guilty of anyway.
When Paul addressed Felix, he was speaking to a man who had lost his dignity, his morality and his decency. When he addressed Drusilla, he was speaking to a woman who had lost her decency, her modesty and her purity. He was speaking to a couple who were morally bankrupt and throughly evil.
(Note: One of the tragedies of these modern times is that few people are confronted by the Word of God concerning their lifestyles. Well, I want you to know today that God is not pleased with the way things are going in this world! He is angered by the sin that abounds on every hand. Society tries to sanitize sin to make them feel batter about what they are doing. Lying has become a credibility gap; adultery has become an affair, stealing has become embezzlement, drunkenness has become a disease, sodomy has become an alternative lifestyle, the murderous practice of abortion has become a woman’s right to choose, fornication has become flirtation, etc. But, God still had one word that sums it all up: SIN! Let’s not gloss it over any longer! Sin is sin and one day, all that sin will catch up with the sinner, Num. 32:23; Gal. 6:9. Maybe Paul told them that day there was a price to pay for the sinful lives they were living. At any rate, that is what I am telling you this morning!)
(Note: I am sure, however, that Paul took the time to tell them that God made a way to save them from their sins. I am sure he pointed them to Calvary and told them of a Savior Who died to take away their sins, John 1:29. I am sure he told them that this same Savior would save them and deliver them from the power of their sins as well, Rom. 6:7; 6:14; John 8:32. That is the glorious message I bring to you today! You may have lived a life of sinful indulgence up to this point, but God can change that! If you will come to Him, receive Jesus as your Savior, He will forever change your life and set you free from the things that bind you today. 2 Cor. 5:17! He has done it for countless others, He will do it for you too!)
(Note: Many people flee the Word of God because it is so confrontational. However, when the Word comes, it brings with it conviction, and conviction is the first step to being saved, John 6:44; John 16:7-11.)
II. SOME OF THESE WORDS CONCERNED HIM
A. We are also told that Paul preached to them about “the judgment to come”. He told Felix and Drusilla that there was coming a day when they would face this righteous, sin-hating God in judgment if they did not repent.
B. He probably told them about the wages of sin and of Hell - Rom. 6:23; Psa. 9:17; Luke 16:19-31.
1. Unquenchable Fire – Mark 9:43; Luke 16:24
2. Memory and remorse – Ill. Rich man – "Son remember" 25, 27-28
3. Intense, unsatisfied thirst – Luke 16:24-25
4. Misery and pain – Luke 16:24-26; Rev. 14:10-11
5. Frustration and anger – Luke. 13:28; Matt. 24:51
6. Eternal separation – Rev. 21:8; 2 Thes. 1:8-9 – Ill. From what? Everything beautiful!
7. Undiluted wrath – Ill. Rainbow, Hab. 3:2! In Hell, God’s fury will be unleashed!
C. He probably told them about the Great White Throne Judgment - Rev. 20:11-15. No doubt but that he told them about a day when all sinner would stand before the holy, righteous God and judged for their sins ans cast into the Lake of Fire!
D. Whatever it was the Felix heard, it made him “tremble”, v. 25. The word means “to be thrown into fear, to become terrified!” I think, for the first time, Felix understood the truth that the was a lost sinner, abiding under the wrath of a holy and righteous God. I think he came to see that he was in serious trouble with God in heaven.
(Note: Friend, how does it make you feel when you hear about righteousness, temperance and judgment? Does it cause you to tremble in the presence of God? Do you sit there fully aware of the fact that you are lost and headed to Hell today? If so, then take heart, because there is a way out! His name is Jesus and if you will come to him, He will save you from your sins and deliver you from an eternity in Hell. He, and He alone, is the way to God, John 14:6; Acts 4:12. Friend, you do not have to face the judgment unprepared to meet God!)
III. SOME OF THESE WORDS CONDEMNED HIM
A. As Felix was being convicted of his sins by the word of God, he made a terrible and fateful decision. He sent Paul away and he refused to heed the message. He told Paul that he would consider the matter again at a more convenient time. Well, from looking at all history tells us about this man, neither he nor his wife ever came to that more convenient season. Two years after this event, Felix was called back to Rome to face Nero for his brutality and harsh ways. He was discredited and removed from power. There is no indication that he ever came to faith in Jesus. Drusilla died in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city of Pompeii. It appears that she too died lost in her sins.
What a tragedy! It was the words of God that convicted Felix, but it was the words of his own mouth that condemned him. He died lost because that was how chose it!
B. It may be that your heart has been convicted by the word of God today. If so, then it is up to you to say “Yes!” or “No!” to His call. His words can confront you and they may concern you, but in the end, it will be your words that will condemn you. You see, where you spend eternity does not rest upon anything in this world, except upon what you do with Jesus Christ, John 8:24; 1 John 5:12.
C. If you want to be saved today, you can be. But, it will only happen if you come to Jesus by faith, Rom. 10:9; 13. Folks, there is a Spanish proverb which says, "The road of by and by leads to the house of never." Friends, it is a dangerous thing to know you need to be saved, to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, to come to the point of decision, and then put it off and say, "Well, when I get a better time, a more convenient season, I'll do something about it." You are playing Russian roulette with your soul, Gen. 6:3; Pro. 27:1; 2 Cor. 6:2.
Conc: Just a few words, but they are oh so powerful! What will you do with Jesus? Because what you decide will determine what Jesus will do with you!
Now would you go with me to an imaginary scene? We're in a courtroom. We are at the Great White Throne judgment. The lost of the ages are gathered at the Great White Throne judgment. The great and the no-so-great are there. And the books are opened at the Great White Throne judgment. The book of deeds are there; every deed that lost men have ever done are recorded in those books. What would you do? What would you do if you were standing at the Great White Throne and on the screen of eternity every scene of your life, everything you'd ever done began to be flashed on the screen for the whole world to see? Would there be some scenes there and you'd scream and say, "Cut it off. I don't want anybody to see this. I don't want anybody to know it." So the book of deeds and it's being flashed there before the eyes of the assembled universe.
There is also the book of life. Inscribed in that book are the names of all of those who trusted Jesus and their Savior and the Judge on the throne is there and a man walks up in front of Him and the Judge on the throne says, "What's your name, sir?" "My name is Felix, Sir. "Felix. I'm sorry, sir, your name is not here." "Oh, but you know me. I'm the Felix in the Bible. You've read about me. I'm in the Bible. I'm the Felix... Listen, I'm the one that heard Paul preach. Man, what a sermon he preached that night. Listen, I got under conviction so bad I shook like a leaf..." "I'm sorry, sir, your name is not written." "But you don't understand. I'm ready now. I know I should have done it before, but I'm ready now. I see this thing is serious. Oh, yes, sir, I repent now. I trust Christ." "I'm sorry, sir. Your name is not written in the book. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting..." "Oh, but you don't understand, I'm Felix. I wanted to be saved. I'd like to be saved now. I want to be saved now." "I'm sorry, sir, there is no record of your birth." And as he walks away, the lovely Lord Jesus calls after him and He says, "I didn't mean for you to go there. I didn't intend for you to be lost. I shed my blood so that you could go to heaven when you died. Felix, I didn't intend
for it to end this way."
Let me ask you a question, friend. If today were the Great White Throne judgment and you were standing before the throne would your name be in the Lamb's book of life? Friends, you may never have a more convenient season than right now.