We have two major political parties, who some could say do not believe exactly what they represent. Mr. Trump, who was once a Democrat until very recently, teeters back and forth on certain issues, making those who would vote for him highly suspicious if he truly is a Republican or not. Mrs. Clinton, who was once a Republican in her younger days, will change on a range of issues just to please certain constituents, making those who might vote for her wonder if she has any true convictions. I would like to say this is all new to politics, but for those who know anything about politics, this is true for most elections. Even so, which church would hire a preacher who didn’t believe what he preached to be true? Which church would hire a preacher who flip flopped back and forth on certain doctrines of the church? Any? I seriously doubt it.
In order to become a Christian, one must make a choice between right and wrong and stick with it. They cannot say both yes and no on the same thing and be believed. Paul made it abundantly clear that the gospel he spoke was not both yes and no (2 Cor 1:18). Truth is set in concrete and has no room for compromise or change (Gal 1:6-9). How we react to the gospel can reveal if we are truly convicted of the gospel.
During one of his many opportunities to preach the gospel to Roman dignitaries, while incarcerated, the apostle Paul spoke to a governor of Caesarea named Felix (Acts 24:10-25). The message obviously had some effect on this man since we are told, “Felix became frightened” (v. 25). Unfortunately, instead of desiring to know more of what he should do, he sent Paul away until a time of convenience (v. 25). Sadly, the governor never got around to obeying the gospel.
There are reasons why people put off hearing or obeying the gospel. With Felix, it was a number of things: his desire to obtain money from Paul (v. 26), his interest in pleasing the Jews (v. 27), and his willingness to listen, but not respond (v. 25). This created a diversion for the Roman ruler that contributed to him remaining in a lost state.
When someone is being touched by the word of God, conviction starts to surface, and a person faces an important decision, to go forward or backwards. Why? When it comes to the gospel of Christ, obligation, responsibility and urgency are being stressed. Paul taught all of these, yet Felix made the wrong choice. A later time of convenience does not exist when a heart is pricked to the point where the listener is “cut to the heart.” It was good that Felix was afraid, but the governor should have removed that fear by complying with the gospel of Christ, not by silencing the speaker for a time.
Too often I hear of souls “obeying” when it is convenient. Imagine teaching the plan of salvation and hearing one utter, “I know what I need to do. Can I get baptized next Thursday morning?” Where is the conviction? This person might as well have said, “I believe I am lost and should not stay in sin, but I choose to do so for another week, okay?” “Surely God will not condemn me if it is my intention to be baptized on a future date?”
What man with a poisonous snake bite would delay a physician from giving him the medicine to cure it? If he truly believed he was bitten by a poisonous snake he would rush to the hospital as fast as possible, and plead for immediate medical attention. Even so, sin is a malignant cancer of the soul, which left untreated will cause the soul to die, and be cast into the lake of fire. If you truly believed this, you would rush to hear someone preach to you the gospel, and you would obey it immediately!
Friend, there is no convenient season, other than the present, for you to be converted to Christ. A convicted heart says, “What must I do to be saved?” and “Here is water, what prevents me from being baptized?” If it isn’t done right away when realized, then we have a person who is just like Felix. He believes, but doesn’t believe to the point where he will put God ﬁrst and himself last. Unless we are willing to put our hand to the plow and not look back, we are not ﬁt for the kingdom of God (Lk 9:62).
When Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was doing wrong, he did so in all good conscience (Acts 23:1). However, once he was taught the error of his way, Ananias immediately commanded him, “Why wait, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). This is exactly what Paul did, and this is exactly what Paul was expecting Felix to do, but sadly, he did not.
The next time you are teaching an individual who wants to obey the gospel next week, tell him that you will have to study with him again before that can occur. If he understands fully what God wants, he will obey immediately, not because it is convenient, but rather because he wants to be saved now, at the accepted time (2 Cor. 6:2).