Grace to You Resources
Grace to You - Resource

As we come to the 16th chapter of Acts, we are coming, really, to a chapter that is going to, I think, leave an impression on all of us. It's one of those chapters that you always remember, just the record, alone, of Lydia and her marvelous liberation. And I've appreciated, so much, the interesting comments of you folks over that little study we've done. And then the little incident about the woman who was possessed of a demon.

And now we come to a third incident in this chapter that is going to indelibly impress it on our minds, and it's a very familiar story about a Philippian jailer and how God reached him through an earthquake. Now, there are folks in this church who can identify with this jailer (laughter). Some of you have told me that very thing. But there is, in this particular portion of verses 19 through 40, which is a long portion, but it's quite a bit narrative and very simple to understand, there is in this portion just one little facet that leaps off the page. Because in this passage, the ultimate question that a man can ever ask is asked. Verse 30: "What must I do to be saved?" And the only answer is given, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Now, we believe that all men need to be saved. And at the same time we believe there is only one way to be saved, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. And, thus, at the beginning of the service I read to you the words of Peter, "neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." This then is the story of salvation.

Now, as all records in Scripture, there are many facets to it. And we can focus in on the story of salvation at the very beginning and then see it in the flow of the context, at the same time, picking up other very important and helpful truths. The man said, what do I need to do to be saved? And the answer came, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, I think, sometimes, we don't recognize the fact that people are really looking for salvation. I believe that people are seeking deliverance. I think that we get the idea that when we go up to somebody to present Christ to them, that we are really intruding on their lives when, in fact, we may just be giving them that which they are desperately searching for and maybe don't know where to look or aren't willing to admit they're looking. The other night when we had our new members meeting with the elders, somebody stood up and said that they had gone on for years and years searching for salvation, but no one ever told them. I believe that it is a basic thing in the heart of a man that he seeks answers. And the ultimate answer is what is life about and where am I going and what am I doing here. And, of course, when a man comes to the place of terrible distress over his own life, that's the man who's ready to hear the message of salvation. Now, another reason we know that people are looking for salvation is because there's so many systems of salvation that have been invented. You know, people only invent what they think is going to sell. And people are...there are all kinds of systems. I just read about a new way of salvation the other day in a magazine. It's too a particular kind of occult trance operation, but it's another way of delivering men from meaninglessness and sin and guilt and boredom and loneliness and the dread of death and insecurity and anxiety and whatever. There's all kinds of panaceas being attempted and being offered to men. And the man in this account, a jailer, a crusty, hard, ex-Roman soldier most likely, who was sort of put out to pasture and ran a stinking, rotten jail in the city of Philippi...how do you know it was stinking and rotten?...they all were. Now, this guy was a hard-nosed character who really just lived and died for the fact that he had a little bit of honor left by being a jailer. At least he had a commission from Rome to do that job and he lived for that thing. You know, everybody, sooner or later, who doesn't have salvation, reduces his life to some little box that gives it meaning. For some people, it's money. For some people, it may be prestige, popularity. For some people, it may be a promotion. For some people, it's a new car. Just every once in a while when their life starts to get boring, they buy another car or they get another wife or something new. Maybe some people, it's sex. Maybe for some people it's athletics. There's many, many things. For some people it's drink; for some people, it's dope. And there's some people who get their little box and then it falls apart and they kill themselves. But eventually, men find that they have to face the reality and unreality of life and so they get a little box, whatever the little box is, and they put everything in that little box. And if the little box goes, that's the end. This man had a little box. His little box was prestige, status. All he had left was his name as a jailer and the fact that he had some honor because he was commissioned by Rome to occupy the jail. In the midst of this little account you know what happened to his jail? It fell apart. All the doors flew open, the chains fell off, the stocks were separated and every prisoner was loose. And you know what the man decided to do?...kill himself. Why? His little box had broken. The only thing he had to live for was his prestige as a jailer. If all of his prisoners got away, he'd lost it. And no matter how he tried to wiggle around it and call it an earthquake, somebody would've blamed him. And there wasn't anything to do but draw a sword and kill himself because he had nothing to live for. And that's exactly the way it is with people. They reduce life to some kind of simple commodity that they can stick their hopes in. Or maybe they run so fast around in their little box they don't realize that they don't have anything to live for. But they've got to escape somehow. Well, this man had no answers. He had no escape. And he came to the biggest crisis in his life up to this point, and the only left to do was kill himself. But instead of killing himself, God had something else in mind for him. And you know what he did? He just fell down at the feet of Paul and Silas and he asked the right question. He said "What must I do to be saved?" How do I get out of the mess of having my little box broken? Where do I turn to get rid of my fears and anxiety and loneliness and the meaninglessness of life and the fear of death and all this? Where do I go? And the answer came very clearly. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" and you'll be delivered, and not only you, but anybody else in your house who believes. Now, that's the main message of this passage. It has to be because it's the main message of Christianity. Let's set the scene a little bit and kind of sneak up on that message.

Now, we're traveling in this little trek through the book of Acts with a pretty sharp bunch. We're with a missionary team made up of four men. Without question, it's the best missionary group that ever went out. Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy...now it's hard to beat that kind of outfit. Now, these four men are making up this little group. Now, they have arrived at Philippi, which is the beachhead in Europe. And the gospel has landed in Europe. And the first thing, God directed them down by the riverside and they met some women there, some women who were worshipping the true God. They were either Jews or Jewish proselytes. No men, at least not enough men to found a synagogue, so the women had to meet at a little place called a proseuche, a place of prayer by the river. And there, God directed them to these women and the one woman in particular by the name of Lydia. And God opened Lydia's heart and she was saved and her whole household was saved. And just like that, the church was founded in Europe. And you know what happens immediately when God begins a work? What happens? Satan begins a counterwork. And so immediately they ran into another woman, only this woman was a demon-possessed girl. In verses 16 to 18 it records that little incident. And she followed Paul around and she did what Satan loves to do, she tried to infiltrate. She said, Oh, they're telling you the truth. You ought to believe them. You say, what is Satan doing agreeing? Satan will agree long enough to get into the organization and to be accepted as part of the same system and then he'll begin to do what he wants to do. And so Paul didn't like this kind of agreement, so in verse 18 he just turned around, didn't even talk to the girl; he just talked to the spirit in her. He said, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ...come out of her. And the spirit came out the same hour." Now, two women that we've met, one a liberated lady and one an enslaved lady. Well, when the enslaved lady was freed, you say, what was the reaction. Well, the reaction was very typical for these kind of people. Look at it in verse 19. "And when her master saw the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers." Now, watch, friends. That's very interesting. The reaction was negative on the part of the guys who were using this girl to make money. Now, that reaction sets up what happens in verses 19 through 40. Satan's infiltration plan failed ‘cause Paul just cast out the demon. Now, if Satan can't infiltrate, he's got another alternative. It never works, but he does it anyway. It's called persecution. Infiltration works; persecution doesn't. You know what happens when the church gets persecuted? It grows. You see, the blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the church. But Satan's so uptight about the church, he can't resist whacking away at it even though he knows it doesn't work. There's a great principle, beloved, and it's this principle and you see it over and over in the book of Acts: persecution always results in blessing. You persecute the church in chapter 4 and what'll they do? They multiply. You come back and persecute the church in chapter 5 and what'll they do? They multiply. As if that's not enough, Satan comes back and persecutes the church in a great persecution of chapter 8 and what happened?...scattered the church everywhere and they went everywhere preaching. It multiplies. Persecution brings blessing. Infiltration is what destroys. That's why, you know, all these people walking around and talking about, oh, this is such a great day for the church and so forth and so on and, you know, this is probably a time when Satan is as active as he's ever been. Because we're not under persecution, which really causes us to grow, we're under the process of infiltration, which is Satan's subtle and effective work. Well, God overwhelmed infiltration in the case of the maid and He's about to overwhelm persecution and we'll see how.

Now, I want you to look at five features and I put them in the little outline for you to follow. If I was going to give you a proposition to base those points on, I would say How To Turn Persecution Into Production. How do you take a negative situation and make a positive out of it? How do you take a persecuted church or a persecuted man or men and make them productive? What is the process or what are the steps or what happens to bring about a positive result from a negative situation? Well, there are five things. Suffering persecution led to singing praises which led to preaching salvation which led to seeing production which led to securing protection and the cycle ran fully.

Now, let's begin at point one. The first thing we see in our text is suffering persecution. Now, this gets exciting because as soon as you start to suffer, you're gonna start seeing something happen. It's inevitable in the book of Acts, absolutely inevitable. Paul cast the demon out of the girl and her masters saw the hope of their gains was gone. It hit them right in the wallet, you see. I mean, this girl was essentially doing what all the rest of those women soothsayers, fortune tellers and palm readers and all do; she was making a fortune, only she had some agents who were taking in the gravy. She was just getting the residual. Now, it's amazing to me that their reaction was what it was because it shows that they didn't care about the girl, right. They could have cared less about the girl. They didn't say, Oh, she's delivered from that devil. These guys must be supernatural. Well, let's find out about this. They said, Oh, no, we've lost our income. Now, you know, that is not so abnormal. I remember in Mark, chapter 5 when Jesus took a little boat across the Sea of Galilee and came to a place called Gerasa or the land of the Gerasenes. And there was there a maniac. And, I mean, this guy was really a maniac. When he was asked his name, he said, "Legion, for we are many." He was infested with a legion of demons. And he cut himself, you know. And he lived in the tombs. And they tried to bind him with things and he broke them. And women and children were panicked at the guy. I mean, you know, you wouldn't even go out of your house. He was a complete madman. And Jesus came along and met the guy and cast all the demons out of him. And the Bible says he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And you would say, oh, the people in town will say, oh, thank you, thank you for delivering us. No. Jesus sent the demons out of him into a herd of pigs and they went right off the end of a cliff. Plop, right in the sea and all drowned. And you know what the reaction of the townspeople was? Oh, they didn't come out and say, oh, you've healed the maniac; they said, you get out of here, you killed our pigs (laughter), see...the crass response...typical. The same thing right here...they didn't care about the girl; they only cared about their gain. Believe me, people, the Bible is very explicit when it says that money can get into the way of spiritual perception. Do you know that? You say, well, that'll never bother me. I'm so poor it's not even a factor. Well, let me tell you what the Bible says. "For the love of money is the root of all evil." It doesn't say money is. So you can have none of it and love and you can have a lot of it and not love it. It's the love of money that's the root of all evil. He says "they that would be rich fall into temptation, a snare and into many foolish, hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and loss." People get messed up because of money. Listen to this in Mark, chapter 10, verse 23. "Jesus looked round about and said unto His disciples, 'With what difficulty shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.'" He just talked to a rich young ruler. Remember this story? And the guy was not