Text: Acts 16:16-34.
Delivered on: October 5, 2008. Streetsboro.
Paul and Silas are teaching the gospel in Philippi.
They had just converted Lydia and her household.
Now through a series of events, Paul is going to come into contact with his next convert.
The PhiIippian Jailer.
From this passage of Scripture, we learn that there are many things involved in the conversion of a sinner.
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. Acts 16:16-24. Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Definition of providence. God working out his will on earth and providing for His people through non-miraculous means.
It is important that we understand the difference between miracles and providence.
Miracles are works of God that go against the laws of nature.
Miracles have ceased today.
1 Corinthians 13:8-11. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Providence is God working through His natural laws. Daniel 4:31-32. While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
Even though God chooses not to do miracles today, He is still active through His providential care.
Esther 4:14. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and
deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Philemon 15-16. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Because of it’s nature, providence can be difficult to see in the present.
As human beings we see only the past and present.
We can’t see how things are going to work out in the future.
Notice that in Esther 4:14 Mordecai said “who knows…”
In Philemon 15, Paul said, “perhaps…”
We see God’s providence (I believe) at work here in Acts 16.
Paul and Silas are being hounded by this poor girl who had a spirit of divination.
She follows Paul and Silas around saying that they are servants of the Most High and that they teach the way of salvation. True!
Paul puts up with it for several days and then finally becomes so annoyed that he casts the demon out.
Have you ever stopped to consider that this may have been the providence of God at work?
As a result of casting out this spirit, Paul ends up in prison.
Where he happens to come into contact with a man who is good soil.
THE POWER OF GODLINESS. Acts 16:25-30. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 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 chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” 29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Paul and Silas could have become bitter and angry.
They had done nothing wrong.
Yet they had been beaten and thrown into prison.
Yet we find them, according to verse 25, singing and praying to God.
We need to learn, like Paul, to live independently of our circumstances. Philippians 4:10-13. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
What we see in Paul and Silas is a godly attitude.
This godly demeanor had an affect on their Jailer.
The Jailer knew that Paul and Silas taught the way of salvation.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how he knew this?
Because of their godly demeanor!
Do we live our lives in such a way that those around us know that they can come to us and ask that most important question, “What must I do to be saved?”
Maybe we haven’t had an opportunity to teach them.
Maybe we have tried to teach them and they weren’t interested at that time.
We must remember, that things may change in their lives, as they changed for the Jailer.
He went for the doorstep of death (he was going to kill himself) and hell to salvation.
1 Peter 3:1-2. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct
of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
I fear that all too often, our friends and acquaintances end up going somewhere else for answers to their question.
Further, do we know how to answer that question with book, chapter, verse?
THE POWER OF THE GOSEPL. Acts 16:31-34. So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
It is only through belief in Christ what we can be saved.
John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 8:23-24. And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
John 14:6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Yet we understand that our faith must be accompanied by obedience or it is dead.
John 14:15. If you love Me keep My commandments.
James 2:20. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is
1 John 5:3. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
God’s grace saves us through faith. Ephesians 2:8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
When God’s grace is coupled with our obedient faith…
We see the power of the Gospel. Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Are you a Christian?
Maybe the providence of God has brought you to hear this sermon today.
Will you then obey?