Luke tells us that Paul spoke to Felix on righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment
We explored righteousness and self-control last week.
Today we will dive into what Paul most likely said to Felix on the “coming judgment.”
THE COMING JUDGMENT
There will be a judgment:
Ecclesiastes 3:17 (ESV) — 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV) — 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Acts 17:30–31 (ESV) — 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Romans 14:12 (ESV) — 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Teaching on the coming judgment was mandated by Jesus himself.
Acts 10:42 (ESV) — 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
This of course makes perfect sense.
Judgment is one of the many things required for the Gospel to carry any weight.
The Gospel is nonsense if there is to be no judgment.
“Proclamation of the love of God always presupposes that all men are moving towards God’s judgment and are hopelessly exposed to it.” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (941).
Using Paul’s words to Felix to as an example, what does it matter if a man is righteous or self-controlled if there is no judgment?
What is judgment and why is it necessitated?
“Judgment is the product of a “controversy” or lawsuit.” The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (610–611).
Judgment is not a random or arbitrary action of God BUT a decision based on the whole body of “controversy” between Him and man.
What is the controversy between God and man?
Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Paul further described the “controversy” between God and man this way:
Galatians 6:7–8 (ESV) — 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
“All human acts are a sowing [of the controversy]; God’s judgment is the related and self-evident reaping.” TDNT (940).
So a life (heart, mind, action) lived “sown in the flesh” creates “controversy” or enmity between God and man which requires judgment – a verdict to be rendered.
God made us, so why are we liable under God’s judgment anyway?
Romans 5:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
We are liable because of a fallen nature.
Proverbs 4:4 (ESV) — 4 he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
Galatians 3:10 (ESV) — 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Galatians 5:4 (ESV) — 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Romans 2:12 (ESV) — 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
James 2:10 (ESV) — 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
We are liable because we have broken God’s law.
John 6:27–29 (ESV) — 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works [sowing or will] of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 3:18 (ESV) — 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
We are liable because of unbelief in Jesus Christ.
“The basis of judgment remains our response to God’s will as embodied in his general and special revelation focused in Jesus Christ.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (633).
“There is no hope for the man who seeks to justify himself at the judgment.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (337).
Who is the judge?
John 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
The judge had to be judged!
Isaiah 53:7–8 (ESV) — 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Luke 24:19–20 (ESV) — 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned [literally delivered up to a judgment] to death, and crucified him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was “by oppression and judgment” condemned to die – and he had to because:
Hebrews 10:11–14 (ESV) — 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
When is judgment?
Matthew 24:29 (ESV) — 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Matthew 24:36 (ESV) — 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
What happens at judgment?
Mark 13:27 (ESV) — 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Philippians 3:20–21 (ESV) — 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
2 Peter 3:7 (ESV) — 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The word that spoke forth creation will also bring forth judgment!
Romans 2:5 (ESV) — 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Revelation 20:15 (ESV) — 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
2 Thessalonians 1:5–10 (ESV) — 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
Believers will be acquitted, BUT those that “sowed in their own flesh” will be found guilty and condemned to hell.
Judgment is the separation of the sheep, righteous and the elect from the goats, unrighteous and the non-elect.
POI – Being found guilty or acquitted is not based on works but…
“The meaning of faith in Christ is nothing less than the truth that Christ’s ‘good works’, i.e. his perfect obedience in life and death, are imputed to us here and now and will stand to our account on the judgment day. In this fundamental sense there can be no justification for anyone apart from ‘works’, i.e. the obedience of Christ in life and death which represents the only basis for human standing before God.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).
However, “If a person is truly reborn by the Spirit, the scrutiny of God will certainly uncover evidences of this in their ‘works’. But these works are the direct fruit of the Christian’s having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).
1 John 3:17–18 (ESV) — 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
The acquitted are also then judged by their works:
1 Corinthians 3:8–15 (ESV) — 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV) — 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) — 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Those in Jesus are not to fear judgment:
1 John 4:17–18 (ESV) — 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
The guilty are also judged based on their works:
Matthew 11:21–24 (ESV) — 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Revelation 20:12 (ESV) — 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
“The absolute, unerring accuracy of God’s judgment will ensure that unbelievers’ punishment in hell fits their iniquity. Each person’s life will be individually evaluated, and each person’s punishment will be consistent with that evaluation. Thus, Scripture teaches that there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell.” MacArthur, J. (2000). Revelation 12-22 (254). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.
Descriptions of Judgment:
Given the certainty of the “coming judgment” and Jesus’ mandate to teach on it, it is plainly obvious why Paul spoke to Felix on such matters.
In speaking on the judgment, the entire scope of the Gospel message is encountered.
It must also be said that the complexity and nuances of Judgment as a topic far outpace the treatment given to them here.
We have only scratched the surface…but I hope it has been beneficial.
Questions concerning how many judgments there are and when they all take place were not really my concern.
I just wanted to get an idea of what Paul may have said to Felix and I think we did just that.