Friday, October 26
Believe in Jesus…and repent!
Scripture: Job 17, Acts 24-26
Acts 24:24-25 Several days later, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.”
When Paul made his initial defense before Felix, he answered the charges made against him. But here, in private conversation with Felix and his wife, Paul shares the gospel—he spoke on “the subject of faith in Christ Jesus.”
Then Luke adds that Paul spoke about “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.” I’m always interested in how Paul and the early Christians shared the gospel, so this intrigued me. It sounds like Paul addressed some moral issues—some change that God would ask of Felix and Drusilla when they believed in and followed Jesus.
Drusilla was the youngest daughter of King Herod Agrippa I. She was married to Azizus, king of Emesa as a teenager. But Felix wooed her away from her husband. She divorced Azizus, and married Felix (becoming his third wife), thus committing adultery by her own Jewish standards. Why did she do this? Expositors Bible Commentary suggests that the teenage Drusilla had grown unhappy with her husband, and was as captivated by Felix’s ruthlessness and power as he was by her beauty. The relationship between them seems to be based on greed, lust and expectations of grandeur.
Apparently Paul made it clear that a life of faith in Jesus involved repentance, some moral change that neither Felix nor Drusilla wanted to make.
Some well-known Christian pastors and teachers often warn against preaching moralism rather than the gospel. They are correct in distinguishing between the good news of new life in Jesus by grace through faith, and the moralistic message of living up to certain standards in order to be a Christian. Moralism puts the cart before the horse.
But make no mistake: there is a cart! The gospel has clear moral implications and Paul wanted Felix and Drusilla to understand this. The gospel calls us to repentance—all of us. There are no exceptions. We must turn away from our sin, our selfishness and independence, and turn toward God. Faith in Jesus not only changes our standing with God, but changes us: our hearts, minds and behaviors. We are made new in Christ. A gospel without repentance, without transformation, is a truncated gospel. You can’t have “faith in Christ Jesus” and remain the same.
I want to follow Paul’s example and call people to faith in Jesus and repentance toward God—a new life! And I must be prepared for the same response Paul got! Not everyone wants to repent!
Prayer: Lord, thanks for Paul’s example and the reminder. Give me the courage to preach the whole gospel, to call people to faith in Jesus and repentance toward God!