What is the Christian Message?
A Sermon on Acts 24:1-27
Paul before Felix
1Now after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges against Paul to the governor. 2After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began accusing him, saying to the governor,
“Since we have attained great peace through you, and since reforms are being carried out for this nation by your foresight, 3we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4But, that I may not weary you further, I beg you to grant us a brief hearing, by your kindness. 5For we have found this man a public menace and one who stirs up dissensions among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6And he even tried to desecrate the temple, so indeed we arrested him. 8By interrogating him yourself concerning all these matters, you will be able to ascertain the things of which we are accusing him.” 9The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.
10And when the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12And neither in the temple did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself. 13Nor can they prove to you the things of which they now accuse me. 14But I confess this to you, that in accordance with the Way, which they call a sect, I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and is written in the Prophets; 15having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16In view of this I also do my best to maintain a blameless conscience both before God and before other people, always. 17Now after several years I came to bring charitable gifts to my nation and to present offerings, 18in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia— 19who ought to have been present before you and to have been bringing charges, if they should have anything against me. 20Or else have these men themselves declare what violation they discovered when I stood before the Council, 21other than in regard to this one declaration which I shouted while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today!’ ”
22But Felix, having quite accurate knowledge about the Way, adjourned them, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23He gave orders to the centurion for Paul to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from providing for his needs.
24Now some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla his wife, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and responded, “Go away for now, and when I have an opportunity, I will summon you.” 26At the same time he was also hoping that money would be given to him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and talk with him. 27But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul imprisoned.
1And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. 2And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 3We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. 5For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. 7But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, 8Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. 9And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so. 10Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: 11Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 13Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. 14But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. 17Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. 18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 19Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. 20Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 21Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
22And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. 23And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
24And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
Christians are heralds of good news and have been sent with a message. In this sermon on Acts 24:1–27, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses what this message is not. It is not entertainment or personal stories or testimony. The Christian life is not a mere social message against war, injustice, or poverty. It’s a message of righteousness and the reality that all will stand before God. As the book of Acts comes to a close, the Apostle Paul stands before the Roman governor, Felix, to explain the Christian message. He doesn’t address the ills of Rome or his wrongful imprisonment. On the contrary, Paul proclaims the reality of judgement and righteousness, boldly declaring the Christian message––the hope of Jesus Christ. Felix trembles, yet being disturbed is not enough. The hearer must respond to Christ in repentance. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones applies this narrative to the modern church and exhorts the church to faithfully proclaim the message delivered to the saints. Sinners must be ready to meet God face-to-face. The preacher must, therefore, prefer the opinions of God before the opinions of humanity, and the hearer must believe the gospel.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.