UNION GROVE CHURCH OF CHRIST, CLEVELAND TN.  

“WHEN I HAVE A CONVENIENT SEASON, I WILL . . .”

      

     Do you remember this quotation from the Bible? Here is the setting in which someone said it. The apostle Paul was taken into custody in Jerusalem, then transferred to Caesarea. During the first two years of his imprisonment there, he was under the care of “Felix the governor” (Acts 23:24). Paul had the opportunity to teach Felix and his wife, Drusilla, reasoning with them of the faith in the Christ, righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 24:24,25).

     In response to Paul’s message, “Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25). The Bible tells us that after that, Felix often sent for Paul and conversed with him (24:26). Sadly, there is nothing in the Bible or annuls of secular history that would cause us to think that Felix ever obeyed the faith.

     Some people of our day are like Felix in that they are visibly moved by the words of the gospel. Felix trembled, but trembling and being shaken is not the same as being saved. Trembling and shaking do not have the same result that believing and obeying do. The demons believe that there is a God and they tremble (James 2:19), but that does not put them in a good standing with the Lord.

     Others are a lot like Felix in the way that they, too, often hear what Paul and other inspired men said and wrote. Many fine people there are throughout the world who frequently attend the worship services and Bible classes of God’s church. They hear, and hear, and hear some more. Hearing and learning the truth is essential in order to come to God’s Son (John 6:44,45), and faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). Some of our regular visitors have more Bible knowledge than some members of the church who have warmed the pews for decades, but knowledge without submission to the Christ and His word is of no saving value (James 1:22-25).

     Felix’ claim that he would call for Paul at a more convenient time serves as a reminder to one and all that there is no guarantee that we will still be alive five minutes from now, let alone five weeks, five months, or five years from now! Tomorrow may never come, so let us not boast of our plans for the day after this one (Proverbs 27:1). Because today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), we must appeal to the lost to submit themselves to the Lord and obey the gospel while they still have the chance. Taking the right action now is the difference between heaven and hell!

      Go back and look at what Felix told Paul: “When I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Something needed to be done (obey the gospel), but Felix was content to put it off with an attitude that said, “I’ll take care of that later.” Do you and I ever do the same in our service to the Lord? Do we know that we need to “step it up” in our personal prayer life, and we really would like to do so, but are we always waiting on a convenient season to come around?

     Do we say that if our schedule ever gets a little bit less hectic, then we will start going to visit and see to the needs of our widows? Does that convenient season ever come? Probably not, as long as we are waiting on other people to clear our schedule for us.

     Do we say that we really intend to spend more time in serious, productive, personal Bible study? Do we convince ourselves that we are going to do just that when we get a more convenient season?

     “When I have a convenient season, I will” try and contact some of those members that have been missing services. Really? And just when do you suppose that will happen? By the time we find ourselves a “convenient” time six months or a year from now, those wavering saints may have become so set in their ways and hardened in their hearts that you and a stick of dynamite could not budge them.

     “When I have a convenient season, I will” talk to some of my lost family, friends, and neighbors about the Light of the world. And what happens if they move away or even die before I find that convenient time?!

     I believe that some well-intentioned parents take an approach with their kids that says, “When I have a convenient season, I will” diligently teach them the Bible. Beloved, are you aware that in the Mosaic age Jehovah commanded the Israelites to teach His laws diligently to their children, and that they were to do it when they were walking, sitting, getting up, and going down? I am not making it up (Deuteronomy 6:6,7). We applaud sincere parents who want their kids to learn the Book. But what kind of plan is it to wait for “a convenient season” to do so?! God told His people to discipline their kids “while there is hope” (Proverbs 19:18). Would not that same principle apply in the matter of teaching kids the Bible?

            When I read that Felix heard the truth and responded by telling Paul that he would call for him when he had a convenient season, I sort of shake my head and think, “What a fool.” Let us take heed lest we adopt a Felix-like approach to our service to the Lord and fellowman by saying, “We’ll do that later when it is more convenient.” If we are not careful, the old devil will see to it that such a time never comes. Think about it.

-- Roger D. Campbell

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Last modified: January 19, 2009