Believe in the Lord Jesus

by LA UBF   08/14/2010     0 reads




Acts 16:16-40

Key Verses 16:30-31

“30He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  31They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’”

Look at verses 16-18.  Who began to follow Paul and those with him?  What was the condition of this slave girl?  What did this slave girl do?  Why do you think that Paul was so troubled by her?  What did he do?

Look at verses 19-24.  What did the owners of the slave girl do to Paul and Silas?  Why do you think they were so angry with them?  What charges did they bring against them?  What did the magistrates have done to Paul and Silas?

Look at verses 25-28.  What did Paul and Silas do while imprisoned? What then happened to the prison?  Why do you think God opened the doors to the prison?  Why do you think that Paul and Silas did not escape?  What did the jailer plan to do when he saw the doors all open?  Why?  What did Paul tell him?

Look at verses 29-31.  What question did the jailer ask?  What do you think led the jailer to ask this question?  What was Paul’s reply?

Look at verses 32-34.  What did Paul do then? (32)  What did the jailer do for Paul and Silas?  What was the result of Paul’s and Silas’ time in prison?

Look at verses 35-40.  When word was sent for Paul and Silas to be released, how did Paul respond?  What did the magistrates then do?  After being released, what did Paul and Silas do before leaving the city?





Acts 16:16-40                          

Key Verses 16:30-31

30He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  31They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’”

In today’s passage we see how Paul and his companions began to conquer the Roman Empire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is extremely important for us today.  America is the modern Rome.  Last week we saw how Paul helped one Gentile business woman to become a believer and to open her house to be the first house church in Europe.  But wherever there is a work of God there is a work of the enemy.  The devil tried to push Apostle Paul, who was armed with the Gospel from the shores of Europe and keep the Gospel from rescuing and helping those who were enslaved and chained in darkness and sin, in the heart of the Roman Empire, i.e. Europe.

In today’s passage we see how the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit helped Paul and his companions firmly establish a foothold in Europe, which culminated with the Gospel being preached throughout the whole Roman Empire.  Without the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul and his companions could not have dared to believe that the Gospel could save the sophisticated, powerful, wealthy people of European Rome.

The Roman citizens of Europe looked too powerful to help with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They had many privileges as Roman citizens; they lived in the most technologically advanced, Superpower nation of the time.  They were just like Americans today.  They looked like they were in need of nothing.  But God showed Paul the truth when he gave him the vision of the Macedonian man, who begged for Paul to come to Macedonia and help him.  Even though the people looked fine, they were like sheep without a shepherd.

Next week we are starting our 2010 Summer Bible Conference.  The title of this conference is “He had compassion on them.”  We thank God for giving us today’s passage to prepare ourselves for this conference.  My God bless us to learn how we can truly pioneer and conquer this nation America with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Part I – Paul and Silas In Prison (16-24)

Look at verse 16, “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.  She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”  In last week’s passage we saw how important one person is.  One person equals the whole world.  God led Paul and Silas to one successful Jewish business woman, Lydia, who believed the message and became a Christian.  In today’s passage we see another woman and her condition.

This was a slave girl who had a demonic spirit by which she predicted the future.  She earned a great deal of money for her owners. These men did not see this young girl as a girl, but as an ATM machine in which to make money from.  Even though Rome looked like a sophisticated superpower nation, the truth of the matter was that it only cared about money and power.  Rome enslaved people in order to grow powerful and wealthy.  Rome cared more about money than one person.  This is the same thing we run across here in America.  Young people are most interested in making money and they enslave themselves to their jobs, especially in this precarious economy.  Companies today give less pay and expect more work from their employees and if the employees don’t like it, they will find someone else.  This is a strong incentive for young people to devote themselves fully to their company.  May God help us to teach students to seek first God’s Kingdom and not to be enslaved by money.

Look at verses 17-18, “This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’  She kept this up for many days.  Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’  At that moment the spirit left her.”  In these verses we see that the slave girl became like a public address system telling everyone around her that Paul and Silas were servants of the Most High God.  This seems like a really good thing.  It appears that this young girl is helping them.

At first Paul did nothing about this, but over time he became troubled.  It appears that at first Paul did not know what to make of this young slave girl doing this.  But ultimately the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul that this was our enemy’s very shrewd attack.  satan’s strategy became obvious: to derail the Gospel by infiltrating it, by forming an apparent alliance with Christ’s work-but for satan’s own ends.  The enemy loves to distort the Gospel just enough to thwart and hinder the work of God.

This young slave girl was a slave of men who made a great deal of money off of her advice and telling the future.  They made a lot of money because a lot of people came to get advice from her.  For several days, these men allowed this young slave girl to follow Paul and his companions, not because they were giving her a vacation.  She did not lead her masters after Paul; instead they led her wherever they thought they could make the most money.  They saw a new business opportunity, by having her tell others who Paul was and what he was doing.

But God and Money do not mix.  Mat. 6:24 reads, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.”  This young slave girl was telling the truth, but she did so with a demonic spirit that served money.  Our enemy tried to marry together both the Gospel and Money.  I recently read an article titled, “How to Promote Gospel Concerts For Profit”  It states, “Promoting a Gospel concert for profit can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity to bring people together, share a positive message and earn money in the process.”  This is not the Gospel; it is the spirit of someone enslaved to greed and money.

Finally, after several days of this, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and told the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”  This young girl was finally freed from her demonic spirit.  Jesus Christ set this girl free. 

At this moment the people should have been so happy for this young slave girl, but that was not the case at all.  Look at verses 19-24, “19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  20They brought them before the magistrates and said, ‘These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’  22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.  23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope for profit went out the window when this slave girl was set free of the demon that possessed her, they are furious. They violently seized Paul and Silas and drag them off to the local magistrates.  They were not impressed with the fact that Paul by the name of Jesus had authority over the demonic spirit in the girl.  They were not impressed with the freedom from demonic oppression which came to this girl.  They cared about one thing: making money; and their profit making enterprise had been destroyed.

This is the first recorded attack against Christianity that was not motivated by Jewish hostility against Christian teaching.  This attack on the Gospel and upon Christians was motivated by greed.  Jesus tells us that we cannot serve God and money.  Paul told Timothy (1Timothy 6:9-10), “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”  The Gospel and greed are like oil and water, they cannot mix together.  Wanting to be rich, being consumed with worry about money and possessions, organizing your life around the accumulation of money or the things that money can buy are all barriers to Christ.  Greed not only motivates active resistance to the Gospel by unbelievers but it is an often hidden sin in the hearts of those who profess faith in Christ and causes professing Christians to become powerless in serving Christ and even wander away.

Our ministry began as a manger ministry.  Strangely, when our ministry first started it was filled with lots of poor Korean students.  But strangely when they committed themselves to preach the Gospel fully, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and the Gospel spread far and wide and many were set free from and born again.  May God help us to follow their good example, that we too may be used preciously to fully pioneer this nation.  May God help us to fully commit ourselves to preach the Gospel to many who are enslaved by greed.

Part II – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (25-40)

Look at verses 25-26, “25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.”  In these verses we can see who really is in charge.  The powers that stood against the Gospel looked powerful and too strong to defeat.  The minute the Gospel was preached to a slave girl the power of Rome came against God’s servants and they were tossed into prison.  We would have expected Paul and Silas should have been terrified and fearful and wanted to shut up.  But instead we see they were praying and singing hymns to God.  How could they do this?  Perhaps they were giving thanks to God for releasing one young slave girl from demon possession?  Perhaps, they were praying that she would accept the Gospel and become a woman of God.

Surely it was because they knew that they had been sent by God to Europe by the Holy Spirits leading.  Acts 16:10 reads, “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them.”  Paul and Silas were completely confident that they were serving God’s purpose.  The Holy Spirit had been clearly directing them.  So when they had at first tried to go to Asia, the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to do so. (Acts 16:7)  But because of their assurance that the Spirit of Christ was directing them, they did not buckle under the persecution and power of the enemy.  Instead, they prayed to God and gave thanks to Him through singing Hymns. God gives inner assurance of victory and peace to those who do His will.  Most certainly both Paul and Silas were singing and gave thanks to God and their hearts were overflowing with joy because they were found worthy to suffer for Christ.

The enemy tried to lock up Paul and Silas putting them in the inner cell of their dungeon.  They used all their power to keep Paul and Silas in prison, but it did not succeed.   About midnight a powerful earthquake shook the very foundations of the prison and each and every cell door was thrown open and even the chains on the prisoners came loose.

Look at verses 27-28, “27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  28But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself!  We are all here!’”  

We have to ask why did Paul and Silas not try to escape?  In Acts 5, the Apostles were arrested, but an angel came and released them and told them, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.’  And in Acts 12, Peter was jailed again and the angel of the Lord freed him and told him, “Quick, get up!  Put on your clothes and sandals.  Wrap your cloak around you and follow Me.”  But this time no angel came and guided Paul to leave the prison.  Paul was given no direction at all.  Paul didn’t know why the prison doors were opened.  But what Paul did know was that God had placed him in this prison and therefore Paul he stayed, even though it was not a very comfortable place to be.  Apostle Paul could have escaped, but he did not try to save himself.  He didn’t know what God had in store, but he was soon to find out.

When the jailer woke up and saw all the prison doors opened, he completely misunderstood what had happened.  God had opened the cells of the prisoners.  To this jailer this was really bad news.  But in reality the opening of the prison doors was the symbol of the Gospel work.  It was Good News.  Isaiah 61:1 reads, “1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

This jailer did not realize that the doors had been opened in order to set him free, especially from the darkness of death.  Death was so powerful over him that he was ready to kill himself with his own sword.  But Paul said, “Do not harm yourself.”  Paul learned the real reason why the prison doors were opened, they were not to free himself, but to set this jailor and his family and even the other prisoners truly free.  Because Paul did not try and rescue himself, Paul could help this one man be set free.  May God help us not to save our lives, or to escape hardships, but to be used for the rescuing and saving of many who are true prisoners of darkness.

When the jailer saw that Paul and the others remained, he turned on the lights and fell trembling at Paul and Silas’ feet.  Look at verses 30-31, “30He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  31They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’”  When Paul and Silas did not try to rescue themselves, this man’s heart was opened widely to accept the Gospel.  He was ready to learn what he needed to do in order to be saved.  Then Paul’s Gospel message could be accepted.  ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power for all people to be saved, no matter what their outward condition may be.  Those who are slaves to money like the slave girl, or who outwardly look like they are in control, but are in reality under the power of death, can only be saved by Jesus Christ who is the Lord.  American students look alright, but they are not alright.  They need shepherds who will preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to them.  When this jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  He didn’t know what to do.  But thank God that He sent him a shepherd, who did not try to escape, but remained and gave him the Gospel.

Look at verses 32-34, “32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.  34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.”  Our enemy, the devil wanted to stop the Gospel from being preached through persecution, but it was through persecution that God saved a jailer and his whole family.  

Here we can see that God is more powerful and strong then all our foes.  God’s servants cannot be prevented from preaching the Gospel and raising disciples.  The only one who can hinder us is ourselves.  If we try and escape difficulties and persecution, we cannot be used to help the Macedonian man, i.e. the students of our campuses.  But when we are fully committed to serve God’s purpose, the Holy Spirit will guide us and empower us to be used for the saving of many.  Throughout this passage we see that it was the Holy Spirit who was leading Paul and Silas and enabling them to be used so powerfully.

Look at verses 35-39, “35When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: ‘Release those men.’  36The jailer told Paul, ‘The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.’  37But Paul said to the officers: ‘They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison.  And now do they want to get rid of us quietly?  No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.’  38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.  39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.”

Paul demanded that the magistrates come and escort them out revealing their innocence and in the process protecting Lydia and the fledgling house church in her home.

Look at verse 40. “40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them.  Then they left.”  Imagine the joy at Lydia’s home as Paul and Silas recounted everything that had happened the previous evening.  There must have been such joy and tears and even perhaps laughter.  Maybe they sang some of the hymn songs that Paul and Silas had sung while in prison.

Think about Lydia’s house church.  A successful business woman; maybe a young ex-slave prophetess; a Philippian jailer and his family and perhaps a few ex-inmates made up the first European house church.  We are reminded of Gal. 3:28, “28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  The first house church in Europe was firmly established by God through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel was on its way to fully conquer the Roman Empire. 

We are praying to double our ministry by the end of this year.  But there are only five months left.  We continue to pray that America may become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  These seem like absurd prayer topics; but they’re not.  But how can this happen and how can we do this?  May God help us to be fully committed and filled with the Holy Spirit; to fully trust in Christ, who alone can save.  May God help us not be caught be the deceitfulness of wealth.   May God give us eyes to see the true spiritual condition of those around us and a true shepherds heart for them.  

One Word: Believe in the Lord Jesus.