Church Extended– Message 3
April 25, 2021
I. Introduction (Acts 16:16-18): Continuing Acts survey called Church Extended.
A. Today’s message is entitled, Salvation.
- Theme verse: Acts 16:30 (NLT)—Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
- Acts 16-18 tells about Paul’s second missionary journey.
- We will focus on part of chapter 16—a passage in which God turns bad circumstances into spiritual benefit—and illustrates physical imprisonment leading to spiritual freedom!
- As he traveled, Paul was led by the Spirit to avoid certain regions and was called (pleaded) through a vision to come to the region of Macedonia in northern Greece. (vv.6-10)
- In Philippi, a major city of Macedonia and a Roman colony (v.12), he encountered a businesswoman named Lydia, and led her and her household to faith in Jesus. (vv.11-15)
- Satan quickly attempted to infiltrate the young church fellowship with a demon-possessed medium. (Infiltration attacks from within the church; persecution comes from without).
- Acts 16:16-18 (NLT)—16One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. 17She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” [true, but evil source]
18This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. [Demons are present and are at work today!]
- We are living in the midst of a spiritual battle, though we may not see it. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Christians, especially immature ones, can become enamored by spiritual power, and seek it, failing to discern the source is demonic and should be avoided. (Deuteronomy 18:10; Leviticus 19:31)
- The answer to false religion, is the real thing, faith in Christ, received through salvation.
II. [So we will examine…] A salvation story… (Acts 16:19-34)
A. #1 – [We must] Realize [the] possibility of persecution. (Acts 16:19-24. C/R: Matthew 5:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:11-12; 1 Peter 4:12-17)
- The girl’s masters did not rejoice in her deliverance from a demon, they were enraged, which reveals the evil cruelty of slavery, of exploiting another person for financial profit.
- Acts 16:19-24 (NLT)—19Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. […the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:9-10] 20“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” [false charge] they shouted to the city officials. [magistrates or governors] 21“They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” [There was a rarely-enforced law forbidding Roman citizens from practicing any foreign religion not sanctioned by Rome.]
22A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas [led by the slave owners with these false charges], and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. [without investigating] 23They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. [illegally] The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
- Paul and Silas did nothing illegal, but they were harassed by a mob, beaten with rods, and imprisoned in a dungeon with their legs cruelly spread widely and fastened into stocks.
- Paul and Silas were not treated fairly, justly, and we cannot expect to be either.
- 2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)—Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
- We must never mistreat others or speak arrogantly about our faith, but we are promised that we will be persecuted if we live Christ-like in a culture that is becoming more brazen in its rejection of biblical morality and true Christian faith.
- Our culture is showing signs of persecution, which began years ago through the removal of Christian signs and symbols such as crosses and 10 Commandments in public buildings, eliminating nativity scenes on courthouse squares, and ending prayer in schools.
- Today, we see a rising incidence of the suppression of the Christian faith by disallowing personal expressions of faith by workers and students such as Bibles, pictures, T-shirts and caps, supposedly because they are violations of the 1st Amendment, but they are not!
- The answer to our societal ills: poverty, injustice, addiction and abuse, will only be found through the Gospel, by replacing hatred and resentment with love, kindness, generosity.
- But advocating God’s way of achieving peace through concern for others, humility and personal sacrifice, will not always be accepted and may result in your mistreatment.
- APP.: Are we willing to suffer for living our faith publicly and humbly spreading the truth of the gospel?
A salvation story always requires us to…
B. #2 - Rely on God. (Acts 16:25-28. C/R: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Peter 4:19; 5:10)
- Acts 16:25 (NLT)—25Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God [couldn’t sleep in this filthy dungeon with wounds from severe beating and cramping legs], and the other prisoners were listening.
- The other prisoners were amazed at these men worshiping in the midst of their suffering.
- Paul and Silas understood what many of us seem to forget—that praising God does not depend on circumstances—because we are not thanking God for our difficult situations, we are thanking Him in spite of those circumstances, because we know He is good!
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)—16Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:4]
- But we will only experience joy in the midst of difficulties if we are filled with the Spirit, who gives us inexplicable joy as a fruit of the Spirit. (1 Peter 1:8; Galatians 5:22-23)
- We will pray in prison and sing in shackles only if we have an accurate concept of God—that He loves, helps, and never abandons us, even in the mist of suffering.
- What we believe about God will control how we live and act—AND how we suffer.
- ILL.: Graham – is Romans 8:28 still true?
- Paul and Silas did not base their understanding of God on their circumstances; instead, they evaluated their circumstances in light of what they knew to be true about God.
- Their songs expressed confident trust that God would use their circumstances for their good and His glory. (They didn’t have long to wait for God to intervene!)
- Acts 16:26-28 (NLT)—26Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! [God controlled this natural occurrence.] 27The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. [Likely lived within or next to the prison.] He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. [A Roman soldier who allowed a prisoner to escape would be punished by death, so they jailer decided to kill himself rather than face humiliating and painful execution.] 28But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” [All prisoners, not only Paul and Silas.]
- APP.: Do we trust, rely on, believe in, God even when are circumstance are painful?
A salvation story results from a believer…
C. #3 – Respond[ing] to interest. (Acts 16:29-34. C/R: Matthew 10:32; John 20:31; James 2:14-17; 1 Peter 3:13-16)
- Acts 16:29-30 (NLT)—29The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
- No doubt, the jailer was aware of the message Paul and Silas had preached, and he regarded the earthquake as supernatural confirmation that they spoke the truth.
- APP.: How many of you had a supernatural occurrence convince you of the reality of God and the truth of the Gospel message?
- The jailer’s question expressed the desire of his heart to be right with God. (Everyone has this desire, this longing; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 1:19-20.)
- He may have heard the words of the demon-possessed girl (v.17), directly or from others, so, when the cell doors flew open and the chains fell off, he believed Paul and Silas knew how to be saved.
- Acts 16:31-32 (NLT)—31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. [A simple message with eternal results!]
- Belief = Greek pistĕuō, to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—"to believe in, have confidence in, have faith in, to trust, to rely on.”
- When the Gospel is spoken to hearts prepared by God, spiritual results are inevitable!
- The jailer, his family members, servants and guests all heard the Gospel—and believed!
- This belief was not merely emotional or cognitive agreement; this was transformation!
- Although salvation is strictly and completely by faith without any requirements or conditions, salvation is always accompanied by evidence—which we see in the jailer!
- Acts 16:33-34 (NLT)—33Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. [concern for other Christians; John 13:35] Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. [public identification with Jesus; Matthew 10:32] 34He brought them into his house and set a meal before them [generosity, hospitality to these considered criminals and enemies of Rome; Jas.2:14-17], and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. [likely idol-worshipers; Romans 4:7-8]
- The jailer was ready to commit suicide, but now he experienced and expressed the joy that comes from knowing God and having his sins forgiven!
- APP.: Has God prepared a Philippian jailer for you to tell your salvation story?
Memory verse: Acts 16:31 (NLT)—They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”