WHY DO YOU WAIT

by David Campbell

 

This is a question often asked by family and friends of people who have heard the Gospel and do not respond.  These individuals apparently understand what is required of them to enter the kingdom and be faithful.  Procrastination is a common trait of all humanity.  “I will do it tomorrow,” is often used as an excuse for not doing that which should have been done at the best available opportunity. It has been stated that opportunity knocks only once at your door and failing to respond, he will pass on and never return.  Thankfully the Gospel is presented frequently, lovingly, and urgently.  God’s call to mankind is constant, consistent, and clear.

One of the saddest recorded episodes of procrastination is found in Acts 24:25.  The story begins to unfold in a letter to the governor, Antonius Felix from Claudius Lysias, a tribune in the Roman army (Acts 23:24ff.). The purpose of this letter was to detail the charges against Paul (Acts 23:24 ff.).

Felix is well known in history.  He was a servant in the household of Aggrippina, the mother of Claudius (an emperor).  Felix’s brother Pallas was very influential in Roman politics and aided Felix in securing the governorship of Judea.  King Agrippa I had lived in Rome and grew up with the emperors Caligula and Claudius.  It was Agrippa I that had James killed and Peter imprisoned (Acts 12:1-3).  He is the grandson of Herod the Great.  Agrippa I had four children, 3 daughters and one son (Agrippa II).  Drusilla was the youngest daughter.  Drusilla was first married to king Azizus of Emesa and she was Felix’s third wife.  She had been persuaded by Simon the Sorcerer of Acts 8 to leave Azizus and marry Felix.  She is the sister to Bernice who is mentioned along with her brother in Acts 25:13.  Felix was forced to leave Caesarea in AD 59 to appear before Emperor Nero on charges of corruption.

It is stated in Acts 24:22 that Felix had an accurate knowledge of the Way.  Therefore Felix was aware of the Gospel and so was Drusilla.  Paul preached unto them righteousness, self- control, and judgment to come.  The Scriptures state that Felix was afraid (Acts 24:25).

One thing we know for sure, he was living in an adulterous relationship with Drusilla.  His knowledge of the Gospel should have given him ample information concerning what was right, just, and the consequences of his decision not to obey.  The fact that he was afraid and alarmed indicates he knew his fate.  What hindered him from obeying the Gospel?  Would he have had to give up Drusilla?  Would he have had to alter his pattern of governance?  He wanted a bribe from Paul to free him.  Did he accept bribes for favors?  Was this the reason he was being recalled to Rome later for corruption?

An ancient manuscript (Codex Bezae) records that Drusilla instigated the meeting between them and Paul.  When Felix was not responsive to the message of Paul, it was her wish that he remain in prison.  History further records that Drusilla, and her son by Felix, died at Pompeii when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.  The eruption at Pompeii occurred some 20 years after the events in Caesarea.  We can only speculate as to whether Felix and Drusilla ever obeyed the gospel.  We do know that they had an opportunity to repent and accept salvation but chose not to.

Why did they hesitate in those precious moments before the apostle Paul? The only recorded reply of Felix in scripture is a statement of procrastination.  You cannot summon God from the grave or at His judgment bar on that fateful day.  Moments are fleeing and cannot be reclaimed.  Your time to act is now! Eternity is a long time to reflect and be angry with yourself for not taking that precious moment when offered once or many times in the past.  We can read in Luke 16 of such events between the rich man and Lazarus.  The Hadean world is a terrible place to contemplate your neglected choices in life, but all will.  Let not one of those be you.