ACTS 16:25

 

 

Paul and Silas had just been beaten for the cause of Christ and cast into prison in the town of Philippi. The Bible says in Acts 16:25-30, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awakening out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved

 

Paul and Silas did two things when they were cast into prison: they prayed and they sang praises to God. If you want to see people saved, then you must have a meaningful prayer life. In the incident leading up to this when a demon was cast out of the woman who followed them, it says in Acts 16:16, “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer.” Since Jesus is the one who saves people, we can only be used by Him in this great endeavor when we are walking close to Him in prayer. Of course, in Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas also prayed because they had just been cast into prison. The way to gain the victory over a difficult circumstance is to pray about it. Make sure that you have put it into God’s hands. Take your burden to the Lord, and leave it there. After you have prayed to the Lord about something, then believe that He is going to take care of it. Evidently, that is what Paul and Silas did, because after they prayed, they “sang praises unto God 

 

If God wants to deliver you from your difficult situation, of course He has every possible means at His disposal. In the case of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail, God used something very dramatic to deliver them: an earthquake. But this earthquake did not have a destructive purpose: it was constructive. Paul and Silas were freed from their shackles, and soon the jailer and others would be free from the shackles of their sins. Paul and Silas somehow knew that God was doing more here than saving them from jail: God has also intending to save the soul of the jailer. Undoubtedly the night before the jailer had heard when Paul and Silas sang praises to God, and his heart was prepared because he came and asked the most important question that anyone can ask: “What must I do to be saved?” He was talking about the salvation of his soul.

 

Hopefully you know the answer to the question. The Bible says in Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” There is nothing to do to be saved, but there is something to believe, and someone to believe on. To believe means to rely upon and to depend upon. Just by the fact that the Philippian jailer asked how to be saved shows that his heart had been touched by God. He was under conviction. He understood that he needed to be saved. But there is no work to do in order to be saved: no church membership, no baptism, no list of good works, and no keeping of the law. Salvation comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. As soon as a person turns from their sins and turns to Jesus, trusting in Jesus, that person is saved.

 

Notice that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This does not mean that if you believe, everyone in your house will automatically get saved. It means that if you believe, you will be saved; and if each individual in your family believes, each of them will be saved also. There is no respect of persons. Every person gets saved the same way. The ground is level at the cross. There is equality there. No matter how many or how few are your sins, you get saved the same way as anyone else in your family or anyone else in the world: by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved  

 

As a great example of how God can turn the tables, the Bible says in Acts 16:35-40, “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul: The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privately? Nay verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed

 

Just hours before, the unjust magistrates thought they were so powerful. They had the power to have Paul and Silas beaten and cast into prison. But God is always able to turn the tables back against the powerful of this world, and God does so many times. Perhaps God does things like this once in while to remind us all that He is still in control. Of course, God does things like this also to keep the doors of opportunity open for whom they are open. If God opens the door to the spread of the gospel, even the most powerful cannot stop it. If you have an open door before you, make sure that you go through it before it closes. God gave Paul an open door, and God also gave Paul just the words to say to put the enemies of the gospel in fear of him. Paul was a Roman citizen, and he used the rights and privileges of his Roman citizenship to help in the spread of the gospel. Use every legal means that you can to do what is right in the path that God has sent you on. Paul did.

 

In Acts chapter 17 we will see other cities that Paul visited on the Greek peninsula on his second missionary journey. It says in Acts 17:1-3, “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews; And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ

 

The first thing to notice about Paul’s method of speaking as he went to each of these cites is that he used the scriptures. He did not rely upon human reasoning nor his own wisdom. He used the scriptures. In our day and age you might be surprised how little the scriptures are used in many sermons that are preached. More preachers would have the results that Paul had if they would learn to open up the scriptures and expound upon them. The scriptures are alive and powerful: our own ideas and phrases are not. The second thing to notice about Paul and his method of speaking to people is that Paul preached Jesus. Instead of preaching Jesus, some people preach themselves.

 

Concerning Jesus, Paul emphasized three main things. First: That the Messiah had to suffer. Perhaps Paul used Isaiah chapter 53 to show that the Old Testament made it very clear that the Messiah would suffer. Isaiah 53:3-5 says, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” This suffering of the Messiah Jesus accomplished when He died for us on the cross of Calvary.

 

The second thing that Paul preached was the fact that the Old Testament taught that the Messiah would rise from the dead. Psalm 16:10 says, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Jesus rose from the dead. When Mary went to the tomb, the stone had been rolled away from the door, and an angel said to Mary in Mark 16:6-7, “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified; he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall you see him, as he said unto you.” During the days that Jesus walked the earth after His resurrection and before His ascension, he was seen by all of the apostles and by more than five hundred other disciples. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus conquered death and hell and sin. Jesus is the Savior.

 

The third thing that Paul preached was that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin in the lineage of David. Jesus of Nazareth lived a holy and perfect life, performing miracles, until He died for the sins of the world in a cruel Roman cross. Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead and was seen of many honorable witnesses and left an empty tomb that forever bears this testimony: Jesus is alive. Jesus of Nazareth s the Messiah of whom the scriptures had so carefully written so that He could be recognized. If you know what the Old Testament says about the Messiah, and if you know who Jesus was and what he did, you can come to only one conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. That is the conclusion that the apostle Paul came to: Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. And so Paul went everywhere and “reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ

 

What were the results of Paul’s sermons in the city of Thessalonica? He had the same result that everyone has who preaches the Word in Spirit and in truth: some who heard believed, and some did not believe. The Bible says in Acts 17:4-5, “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” This is what happens to the whole human race in every generation: some believe when they hear the gospel of Christ, and some choose not to believe. First John 5:12 describes very clearly the two types of people in the world. It says, “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.” The world is not divided on racial boundaries or national boundaries at all: it is divided on spiritual boundaries. But we who believe do not view the unbelievers as our enemies. We want to help them in any way that we can come to know Jesus as Savior.

 

Notice one of the big differences between those who are right with God and those who are not. The ones who believe on Jesus as Savior consorted with Paul and Silas. They wanted to spend as much time with Paul and Silas as they could. They wanted to hear them. They wanted to learn everything that they could. Do you want to really find out about someone? Find out whom they love and what they love. Find out who their friends are and whom they run with. On the other hand notice whom the unbelievers went to. It says that they “took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.” If you throw away God’s best, you might be left with the world’s worst.

 

Unbelievers who have purposely and consciously rejected the gospel of Christ are pretty predictable. They have already rejected the gospel for themselves, and then they turn around and try to keep other people from hearing the gospel. They have made themselves the children of hell, and so they try to help others to the same destiny and spiritual ruin. What these unbelievers did is recorded in Acts 17:6-9. It says, “And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received; and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people, and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” Again the enemies of the gospel lied. They twisted what had been said about Jesus. The teaching of Jesus was very clear about His role as the King of kings. He told His disciples that His kingdom was not of this world.

 

Of course, when anyone accepts Jesus as Savior, they are also accepting Him as King of their life. An important question for you is this: is Jesus the King of your life? Do you know Jesus as Savior? If you do not, today you can turn from your sins and turn to Jesus.                     

 

 

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Copyright; 2003 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved