Vol.XVII No.IV Pg.3
June 1980

"If Any Man Wills ..."

Dan S. Shipley

Rest assured that when Felix heard Paul "concerning the faith in Christ Jesus" (Acts 24:24), he heard exactly what he needed to hear and he heard it from one of the most competent and informed teachers of that time. In his case it was not a question, as when we teach, as to whether the most appropriate things were taught or whether enough was said or whether it was spoken in the proper spirit. And, judging from his response to what was heard concerning "righteousness, and self control, and the judgment to come" (v. 25), a terrified Felix got the point. But, regretfully, he dismisses God's servant and, with him, God's truth with the pitiful answer, "Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me." (v. 25) So far as we know, that convenient season and salvation never came to Felix. Felix was lost! But why?

Certainly not because God wanted it that way! When the apostle Peter wrote that God is "not willing that any should perish" (2 Pet. 3:9), that surely included Felix. When Jesus said that "God so loved the world" Jn. 3:16), that too included Felix. Felix was no less the object of God's great love and concern than was the apostle Paul. Jesus teaches us that the soul of Felix was worth more than the whole world (Matt. 16:26). Then He proved it by dying on the cross for all men — for Felix. Through the Holy Spirit, men like Paul were divinely directed into all the truth (Jn. 16: 13) and were told to preach it unto all the world (Matt. 28:20) so that sinners like Felix may learn words whereby they might be saved. (Ac. 11:14) Yet, in spite of God's will, His love and His every provision; in spite of the efforts of an inspired apostle, Felix was lost! — and he was lost by choice! He chose to sow to flesh rather than the spirit; to serve self rather than God. And, even though God regrets such a decision, He nevertheless respects it. He allows man to do as he pleases, even when he chooses to spurn God's grace and reject His salvation, as did Felix. This is, as some have termed it, God's "permissive will". Jn. 7:17 clearly shows the two wills involved in salvation: "If any man wills to do His will..." While it is true that environment and circumstances may and do influence one's character, in the final analysis every man is what he chooses to be. As someone has well said, "Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life." Spiritually, Felix was what he chose to be — and so are we.

True, we don't always like to take credit for what we may have become. Some blame God; others blame God's people; still others find countless excuses with which to salve their consciences, but none of this changes anything. We are still just about what we want to be in our relationship with God. Facing up to this fact would help put things in perspective for a lot of the unfaithful. Felix and all like him will find that their choices are not without consequences. He who chooses to sow to the flesh will reap accordingly, Gal. 6:8. God's sovereignty is vindicated in judgment. He wants you saved. The question is...