Today’s Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 2:18-4:4; Acts 24:1-27; Psalm 4:1-8; Proverbs 18:16-18
Back in 2 Samuel 7 God had unconditionally promised David that He would raise up one of David’s descendants to be the Messiah who will sit on the throne forever.
As the Messiah would not appear for a few hundred more years, God would have to keep track of every person in order for this to happen. But this is no problem for God. In 1 Chronicles 3 we read about the descendants of David which include those who lived in Israel (David, Solomon, Rehoboam, et. al) and those born after the exile (1 Chronicles 3:18-24).
God kept track of who was from David’s line even though Israel no longer existed. Reading this list of David’s descendants can give us great confidence that God is in control and and able to keep His promises. Even when we can’t keep track of what is going on, God is still aware of all the details.
In Acts 24 the Jews, through their lawyer Tertullus, bring their case against Paul before the Roman governor, Felix. Tertullus’ states his case in Acts 24:2-8. Notice that there is no evidence stated. Instead he presents opinion.
This is very similar to the arguments against God’s existence that many atheists (including me, when I was one) use: lots of opinion but lacking in facts. For example, I often hear atheists claim that science proves there is no God (I used to think the same thing).
But science does not disprove God. It may not prove Him either. But in no way does science prove that God does not exist. If there is a God who created the entire universe – which I believe there is – then He could easily have created everything we see and experience, including sciency-things like DNA.
When Paul gives his defense he does not flatter Felix as Tertullus did (Acts 24:2-3). Flattery is a sin as the Bible tells us. Proverbs even links flattery with sexual immorality.
Notice that Paul does not shy away from the fact that he follows Christ (Acts 24:14) which seems to be the main charge against him. This is a good lesson for us. Every day it seems Christianity is becoming more and more disdained by our society.
Being a Christian is viewed as being weird, old-fashioned, and unacceptable. But it would be wrong for us to deny our faith. Doing so may provide some comfort on this earth and alleviate some hurt. But it is our faith that can save others. If we deny it then we are denying others the opportunity to be saved themselves.
Those people who are rejecting God in this life but are hoping for God to annihilate them rather than judge them are mistaken (Acts 24:15). Everyone – those who are saved and those who are not – will be resurrected to an afterlife. There is no avoiding it.
History records Felix as an immoral leader who seduced Drusilla, his wife, away from her first husband. When he and Drusilla come to Paul to hear his testimony, Paul talks to them about self-control and the coming judgement (Acts 24:25). Felix becomes uncomfortable and ends the conversation.
I think it is permissible for us as Christians to confront other’s sins but we must do so without any hint of judgement or self-righteousness. We are all sinners, guilty of pretty much the same things. Our goal in discussing Christ is to get others to see themselves as we see ourselves – as sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy. Our goal is not to condemn anyone’s lifestyle.
I recently read an article by a pastor about how he writes and preaches his sermons. He says he writes them with himself in mind, not the congregation, and he speaks as if he is talking to himself. This is great advice we can apply to any conversation we have with a non-believer.
Notice that Felix became afraid (Acts 24:25). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Fear certainly played a big part in my acceptance of Jesus 20 years ago. If, as an atheist, I was wrong then I was going to be in for a terrible eternity. That fear lead me to reevaluate my beliefs to see if there was enough evidence to support them. There was not.
Felix keeps Paul incarcerated for more than two years, which was illegal (Acts 24:27), and then leaves the scene. Some people think they can ignore God and then they won’t have to deal with Him. “Out of sight, out of mind” may work in some cases, but it will not work with God.
There are some people who spend there entire lives attacking God by attacking Christians (Psalm 4:2). It is understandable for us to be angered at this, but we should not let our anger control us – that would be sin (Psalm 4:4). Instead we should trust the Lord (Psalm 4:5). Focusing on God, and not the haters, brings more joy than all the riches in the world (Psalm 4:7) and provides complete peace of mind (Psalm 4:8).
I think Proverbs 18:17 can be applied to the arguments people have in their head about the existence of God. Sometimes things sound right. But we should cross-examine our own thoughts to see if they hold true.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post