Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – September 13, 2015
Theme: Responses to the Word
Topic: Governor Felix
Main Texts: Acts 24:1-27
Key Verse: Acts 24:25 – “ As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (NIV)
Last Sunday we studied the diverse responses of The Ephesians to the Gospel. First was the 12 disciples who had never heard of the Holy Spirit, but who, upon hearing about Him from Paul, submitted themselves to whatever it meant to receive the Holy Spirit. As a result, they were baptised in The Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. We then saw how several Ephesians embraced the Gospel and, though initially afraid to make it open, were embolded by the demonstration of God’s power they had witnessed, and openly declared their faith. Then there was the metal workers led by Demetrius who for purely economic fears, instigated an uprising. Key learnings from that study include the following;
- Many are hindered from receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit by fear of unusual things they might experience, such as speaking in tongues – They want the Holy Spirit but do not want to give Him the freedom to act in their lives
- Fear is an appropriate response to God’s word
- The fear we experience from reading or hearing God’s word should make us align our lives to His purposes
- It is dangerous to suppress the fear brought about by God’s word with a view to “feeling good”. If we continue to resist His word, we could over time develop a calloused spirit that is no longer sensitive to Him
This Sunday we will be studying the character Governor Felix of Judea. First we will see how the prophecy of Agabus (Acts 21:10-14) as regards how Paul would be molested in Jerusalem came to pass, and how that led to his appearance before Felix in Caesarea. Felix, we are told, was acquainted with the Gospel (“The Way”) but he was a corrupt man and kept Paul in prison for two years, expecting to be bribed. Key learning points from the study should include:
- God could reveal impending suffering to His children, not so they would pray against it, but that they should be prepared to face it; He does not always prevent suffering even when we pray against it
- It is particularly challenging to minister the Gospel to those who are already acquainted with it but have not yielded their lives to Christ because they fear the consequence on their earthly status
- We will sometimes face unjust suffering and be pressured to compromise our faith and integrity to secure our freedom. We need wisdom and the fortitude of The Holy Spirit to remain aligned to God in such situations.
In Acts 21:10-14 we had read of Agabus prophesying that Paul would be arrested and bound in Jerusalem, and would be handed over to the Gentiles. The other disciples had tried fruitlessly to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem, to avoid this unpleasant experience. But Paul’s response was “I am ready not only to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem for the name of Jesus”. In our text for today, we see that prophecy come to pass as Jews from Asia stirred up hostility against Paul in Jerusalem and he was eventually handed over by the religious leaders to the Gentiles. a) Can you recall a prophecy or prevailing circumstances pointing to a risk of severe suffering for a Christian but he or she still chose to face it? b) What is the attitude of Christians to other Christians caught in severe suffering where such suffering had been reasonably foreseen or even foretold through some revelation? What should be our attitude? Paul eventually appeared before Governor Felix at Caesarea. We are told (v22) that even before Paul’s appearance before him, Felix “was well acquainted with the Way” – he knew about the Christians and the Gospel message. On Paul’s second appearance before him – this time with Felix’s wife in attendance, we are told: “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’” (v25). c) How do we recognise those that are “well acquainted with the Way” but are not born again, and what should be the Christian’s approach to evangelism towards such people? d) Why would someone hear the Gospel message, be afraid, and yet not take the necessary step to be saved? Over a period of two years, Felix left Paul in prison, calling for him frequently in the hope that Paul would give him a bribe to be released – vv 26-27.
There are probably some people languishing in our prisons today on trumped-up charges and for no offence other than that they would not give a bribe. The Christian would be under pressure to secure the release of such people in the shortest possible time. Many of us get into “small prisons” from time to time – like when a corrupt official holds us to ransom to force a bribe before we can get justice. e) What practical actions can a local church take on account of people known to be unjustly imprisoned? f) Would you help raise funds to give to government officials for the release of a loved one who is being unjustly held in prison?
Father, we pray for those in our midst who may be well acquainted with the Gospel but have not received you as Lord and Saviour, that your word may come alive in their hearts and lead them to salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.