“Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25).
Felix, a Roman governor, was interested in Paul and his message. He evidently knew a great deal about Jesus. He knew about His crucifixion. He knew that it was commonly reported that He had risen in triumph from the dead. He knew how the gospel was spreading through all that part of the world, and how it was reaching out even to distant lands. Undoubtedly deep in his heart he wondered whether Jesus was who He professed to be—the Son of the living God. But to step right out and accept Christ, to yield his heart to Christ, would mean facing the sin in which he was living.
We read that as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.” When Paul reasoned of righteousness, he must have brought before Felix the fact that he had no righteousness. And then he would not hesitate to witness to the fact that Felix, instead of living in self-control, was controlled by evil. Paul went on to tell of the judgment to come. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Yet we do not read that Felix responded to Paul’s message. Undoubtedly, the memory of his sins rose up before him, and as he faced God about those sins, he was in trouble and distress. But there was no repentance. What folly it is to try to cover up and forget our sins! Remember, if unconfessed, God has never forgotten them. They are there in His books of record, and in His judgment day they will be manifested.
You may say, “I have violated God’s holy law, but is there no forgiveness?” Ah, yes there is! And Paul must have put clearly before Felix the glorious message of the gospel. If the sinner is willing to come now into the presence of God and face his sins, he will not have to stand before God in judgment. Remember this: the first time a person comes into the presence of God, he must come with all his sins upon him. If the first time you meet God is the day of judgment, you will stand there with all your sins upon you, and you will hear that Voice saying, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
But, thank God, if you are ready to come to Him in repentance—and repentance involves a complete change of attitude in regard to sin—if you are ready to come now, earnestly desiring the forgiveness of sins, there is forgiveness with Him. That mercy was offered to Felix, but he answered Paul, saying, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
Let me ask you, reader, to face this question honestly. Are you saying as Felix did, “when I have a convenient season, then I will get right with God?” When do you think that more convenient season will arrive? When will it be easier to repent of your sins, to confess your need, and to trust in the Lord Jesus, than it is now? Now is the time to get right with God. Believe God when He says, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
“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 10:9-10).
—Condensed from Acts by H. A. Ironside.