Conversion Demands Conviction

By Chuck Bartlett

During one of his many opportunities to preach the gospel to Roman dignitaries, while incarcerated, the apostle Paul spoke to a governor of Caesarea named Felix (Acts 24:10-25). The message obviously had some effect on this man since we are told, “Felix became frightened” (v. 25). Unfortunately, instead of desiring to know more of what he should do, he sent Paul away until a time of convenience (v. 25). Sadly, the governor never got around to obeying the gospel. 

There are reasons why people put off hearing or obeying the gospel. With Felix, it was a number of things: his desire to obtain money from Paul (v. 26), his interest in pleasing the Jews (v. 27), and his willingness to listen, but not respond (v. 25). This created a diversion for the Roman ruler that contributed to him remaining in a lost state. 

When someone is being touched by the word of God, conviction starts to surface, and a person faces an important decision — to go forward or backwards. Why? When it comes to the gospel of Christ, obligation, respon- sibility and urgency are being stressed. Paul taught all of these, yet Felix made the wrong choice. A later time of convenience does not exist when a heart is pricked to the point where the listener is “cut to the heart.” 

I realize that in many of our home Bible studies, more than one class has been set up. This is done to keep the interest alive. Yet when a person is seeking to know the truth, if he accepts it, then he ought to immediately respond, rather than put it off. It was good that Felix was afraid, but the governor should have removed that fear by complying with the doctrine of Christ, not by silencing the speaker for a time. 

Too often I hear of souls “obeying” when it is convenient. Imagine teaching the plan of salvation and hearing one utter, “I know what I need to do. Can I get baptized next Thursday morning?” Where is the conviction? This person might as well have said, “I believe I am lost and should not stay in sin, but I choose to do so for another week, okay?” 

Friend, there is no convenient season, other than the present, for you to be converted to Christ. A convicted heart says, “What must I do to be saved?” and “Here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” If it isn’t done right away when realized, then we have a person who is just like Felix. He believes, but doesn’t believe to the point where he will put God fi rst and self last. Unless we are willing to put our hand to the plow and not look back, we are not fi t for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

The next time you are in a class and an individual wants to obey next week, tell him that you will study with him again. If he understand fully what God wants, he will obey right then, not because it is convenient, but rather because he wants to be saved now — at the accepted time (2 Cor. 6:2).