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"The Philippian Jailor Gets Eternal Life"

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2020 5:00 am

"The Philippian Jailor Gets Eternal Life"

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Hi there, this is Lon Solomon and I'd like to welcome you to our program today. You know it's a tremendous honor that God has given us to be on stations all around the nation bringing the truth of God's word as it is uncompromising and straightforward. And I'm so glad you've tuned in to listen and be part of that.

Thanks again for your support and your generosity that keeps us on the radio. And now let's get to the word of God. Now today what we want to look at is a guy 2,000 years ago. He said, what was his name? Well, we don't exactly know his name. We simply call him the Philippian jailer. We're going to look at his story and then of course we're going to try to bring that forward and say, well, now what difference does that make to you and me?

A little bit of background. Remember that the Apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey. He's moved across Turkey.

He has then sailed across the Aegean Sea and he's now in the northern part of Greece in Europe at the town of Philippi sharing Jesus Christ. Now there was a gal in this town, a young lady who was demonized. Her owners made a fortune from her telling fortunes. And the Bible says, verse 17, that 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. And she went up and down the streets of Philippi and the Bible says, verse 18, she kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul got irritated with this.

He cast the demon out of the girl. The hope of making money from her was gone and her owners got mad and dragged Paul and Silas down in front of the town magistrates and that's where we pick up the story. So verse 22, the crowd joined in the attacks against Paul and Silas and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and to be beaten. Verse 23, and after they had been severely flogged with their backs open to the bone and oozing and bleeding, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

Upon receiving such orders, the jailers put them in the inner cell, the maximum security section. And it's interesting that archaeologists have actually unearthed the exact jail that Paul and Silas here in Philippi were kept in. You can see it's hewn out of solid rock. I don't know if you can see it, but in the back, it's just rugged rock in the back of this.

And this, of course, is a modern steel pole just to hold it up. That one there when Paul was there. This is the actual jail. You can go in it today where Paul and Silas were being kept. And verse 24 says he, the jailer, fastened their feet in the stocks.

This thing that Paul and Silas were in was no laughing matter. And as you can see, they were designed to stretch your legs apart as far as they could get them and then keep them in that position. So what did the jailer do with Paul and Silas? He sat them on the ground. He put their bleeding, oozing backs up against this stone wall. He actually chained their hands above their head and he put their feet stretched as wide apart as you could stretch them in these stocks.

And that's where he left them. This was a posture that was designed to cause maximum pain and discomfort. It was designed to cause the muscles in your legs to cramp and then you couldn't move or do anything to get rid of the cramps. Now, if you've ever had a leg cramp, you can only imagine what the apostle Paul and Silas must have been going through in this jail. Verse 25. At about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and all the other prisoners were listening. Now, it's no surprise considering the position that they were in, sitting down, hands above their head, backs against the wall, still bleeding, feet stretched as wide apart as you could get them. It's no surprise Paul and Silas were awake at midnight.

What is a surprise is what they were doing. They were singing hymns and praying. You say, well, Lon, what hymn do you think they were singing? Well, maybe Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.

I don't know. But they were singing some hymn there in the jail. And the Bible tells us that every single prisoner was listening. Suddenly, verse 26 says, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundation of the prisons were shaken.

And at once the prison doors flew open and everybody's chains came loose. What we have here, friends, is not luck. It's not fate. It's not a geological coincidence.

And it's not good karma. What we have here is the supernatural God of the universe injecting himself into the events of everyday life and answering prayer and taking care of his people. Well, the jailer, verse 27, woke up and when he saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had all escaped. You remember last week we told you that there were two big military battles that were fought here at Philippi, one in 42 B.C., one in 31 B.C., and the future emperor of Rome, Augustus, won them both. In appreciation to the city of Philippi, he declared Philippi a Roman colony, which means, as we saw last week, that there was a large contingent of the Roman army that was stationed here to protect the city.

Now, what we didn't tell you last week is that very often we know from history when Roman soldiers would retire and they were out there guarding these far-flung colonies, they would just stay there wherever they were and that's where they would settle down. There's no doubt in my mind this jailer was a retired Roman soldier. And as such, he knew what happened when Roman soldiers lost their prisoners. They were executed. The Code of Justinian says that any soldier who lets his prisoner escape was to be executed.

And this was a penalty that was enforced regularly. Acts chapter 12, verse 19, when we're talking about when the angel freed Peter from the jail, it says after Herod had a thorough search made for Peter and didn't find him, he cross-examined the soldiers who were guarding Peter and then ordered that they be executed. Well, the jailer said, hey, you know what? I've lost my prisoners. They're going to kill me in the morning anyway. So I might as well just take out my sword and I'll save them the trouble. I'll do it to myself. And that's what he was about to do when Paul suddenly screamed out, verse 28, don't harm yourself.

We're all still here. They said, but Lon, this makes no sense. I mean, other than Paul and Silas, the rest of the people in this jail were just a bunch of jailbirds, right?

Yeah. We say, I never met a jailbird in my life. That when the chains fall off and the doors fly open, they don't run for the hills the first chance they get. What were all these jailbirds still doing in this jail?

I don't understand. Well, friends, think about it. When you're sitting in jail and you hear some dude singing and praying at midnight, and then there's an earthquake and all the prison doors blow open and everybody's chains come flying off, I think you wait to see what he's going to do before you do anything, don't you? And Paul just stood there. So I think all these jailbirds just said, well, we better just stay in here for a second, too, before we go anywhere. And they were all just standing there. Well, the jailer comes running in, verse 29, and he got the lights.

He felt trembling before Paul and Silas. Now, remember, this is a hardened Roman soldier. This guy has seen it all. He's seen death. He's seen destruction. He's seen carnage. And he comes in trembling, scared out of his wits, falls on his knees and says, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? What do I have to do to get eternal life?

What do I have to do to get a relationship with God like you guys seem to have? And we should note here that there's a lot of critics of the Bible who say, you know what, this wasn't some great supernatural event like the Bible says. This was maybe just a tremor, just maybe a little tiny earth tremor. And Luke takes it, and the Bible just jazzes the whole thing up and makes it into some big megillah that it never really was. You know, they just wanted to see God in it. Well, friends, you know what? That's not at all the position the jailer had.

This hardened jailer came running in scared out of his wits, fell on his knees, humbled himself before two prisoners and said, Could you guys help me? He certainly saw it as a supernatural event. And you know what? I'll take my chances sticking with him since he was there over any so-called scholars 19 centuries later telling me what they think happened there.

Huh? What do you say? He knew it was a supernatural event. And he asked the question, What do I need to do to be saved? Now, you talk about a guy at the right place at the right time.

Here he is sleeping, minding his own business, another night at the jail, no big deal. Suddenly, the living God of the universe displays his power right there in front of this jailer. And what's even more incredible is the jailer had some guys in jail he could go right to and ask them, How do I get connected with this God?

Talk about being at the right place at the right time. And so Paul answers his question. Paul says, verse 31, What do I need to do to be saved? I'll tell you, Paul says, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Paul said, Friends, you don't need to do anything. You don't need to do anything to get eternal life. You don't need to do anything to get connected with God like Silas and I are connected with God. It's all been done for you. Jesus Christ did it all for you on the cross when he paid for your wrongdoing, when he opened the way for you to be reconciled to God. The only thing that's necessary from you is that you believe in, that you rely on, that you place your trust in, that you embrace Jesus Christ and what he's already done for you.

That's all you got to do. Now, you know, I tell you all the time, I go to the gym three times a week and I actually have had some of you people run into me at the gym and come up and go, Oh, look at you. You're really here. I go, Well, yeah, of course I'm here.

I wouldn't lie to you. I've said a couple of them. Don't I look like I come? Oh, yeah, you do, Lon. Well, yeah, God bless you, whatever.

But anyway, I had a guy at my gym come up to me a couple of years ago. He said, Hey, you're a pastor of a church, right? I said, Yes, I am. He said, You know, could you tell me what time your services meet? Because I need to start coming to church and I need to get some religion back in my life.

You know, I'd be happy to tell you what time our church services meet. But, you know, if you want religion, you don't want to come to McLean Bible Church. I said, Because we don't offer people religion here. He said, What?

What are you talking about? Of course you do. The stock market is about money. The church is about religion. Of course you offer people religion.

I said, No, we don't. Religion, I said to him, is a bunch of rules and regulations aimed at helping us work our way into God's good graces. I said, The Bible never offles people religion and we don't offer people religion. What the Bible offers people is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we get by placing our faith in what he did for us on the cross that will change your life. And I said, That's what we offer people. So if that's what you want, you come to McLean Bible Church and we can help you. But we don't give out religion here.

And, you know, this guy at my gym made the same mistake the Philippian jailer made. The Philippian jailer was convinced that there was something he had to do, that there was some human activity he had to perform, that there was some religious quest he had to go on like finding the Holy Grail in order to get eternal life and be right with God. But what does the Bible say? When asked the question, How does a person get eternal life? When asked the question, How does a person secure a spot in heaven? When asked the question, How do people get into a personal relationship with God? When asked the question, How do people become new creatures in Jesus Christ in a way that transforms their whole life? What did Paul say?

He said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Period. Period. Exclamation point. You know those blue cards that we put in your bulletin?

You know those things. We call them care cards. I got one about six months ago, and here's what a lady said in a little message to me on the back. She said, and I quote, she said, I was very disappointed in the message today that said good works were not necessary and that belief in Christ alone assures eternal life. I found this to be a frightening message, and I don't believe that this is your real philosophy.

End of quote. Well, I hate to tell this dear lady, but this is my real philosophy. And far more important than that, this is the consistent, constant and unequivocal message of the Bible. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Now, if you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way, maybe part of the problem is that you're like the Philippian jailer. Maybe you're like the guy at my gym who's convinced that it can't be that simple. It's got to be more complex than that. There's got to be something you got to do. There's got to be some work I have to perform. There's got to be some religious activity connected to this.

My question to you is why do you believe that? Why would it be hard? Why wouldn't it be this simple? God made it simple enough that little children can do this. All God's asking for you to get eternal life and a place in heaven and a transformed life on earth is for you to come and put your trust in God to do some things for you you can't do for yourself. And you know the wonderful thing about children and why this comes so easy to them is because children are used to trusting people to do things for them they can't do for themselves. The problem is we grow up, we become adults, and we become sophisticated beyond our intelligence.

Now that's bad. God is simply saying, hey, all I'm asking you to do is trust me and let me do some things for you like give you eternal life that you can't do for yourself. And if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real impersonal way, friends, listen to what Paul said. It's just this simple. Don't make it more complicated than God wants it to be.

I hope you'll do this. Well, you say, Lon, what happens next? Well, nothing happens next because we're going to stop right here in the passage and we're going to ask the most important question.

And you know what it is, don't you? Everybody ready? All right, here we go.

One, two, three. So what? That's good. So what? You say, Lon, I'm happy for the Philippian jailer.

I think this is wonderful. You know what? I've already believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. I've already given my life to Jesus Christ.

What difference does this make to me in the 21st century? Well, let's see if I can help you with that. You know, the Philippian jailer asks one of the most famous questions in all the Bible. Remember what he asked. Sirs, he said, what must I do to be saved? Now, here's my question. Why did the Philippian jailer phrase his question the way he did?

Did you ever think about that? I mean, why didn't he ask sirs? What must I do to be on your team? Why didn't he ask sirs?

What must I do to join your military unit? Why didn't he say, sirs, what must I do to have God's power in my life like you do? Why did he ask the question like this, sirs, what must I do to be saved? Why would he use such a technical theological term like that? This guy wasn't a theologian. This guy wasn't a preacher. This wasn't a religious man. Where did he get a term like that from?

You say, well, Lon, I know the answer to that. He heard Paul and Silas singing all night using the term and that's where he got it. No, no, that's not right because verse 27 says the jailer woke up. He wasn't listening to Paul and Silas singing.

He was fast asleep. So wherever he got the term from, he didn't get it from Paul and Silas. So well, then where then did he get it? Let's go back a little bit in the chapter and I think we can answer the question. Remember verse 17 talking about that girl that was walking around town, you know, yelling and screaming. What was she yelling and screaming? Verse 17, 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 what? Ah, there's the word. That's the very same word, exact same word that the jailer used in his question.

What must I do to be saved? Now it seems obvious to me what happened here. The Bible told us this girl paraded around town like a town crier for many days and someplace in town the jailer passed her. Maybe he was on his way to get groceries. Maybe he was on his way to the gym himself.

Maybe he was going to get some sandals. I don't know what he was doing. But somewhere in town he passes this girl who is screaming out and telling everybody in town that representatives of the most high God have arrived in town and they're telling everybody the way to get saved. Now, frankly, he didn't even know this jailer didn't what saved meant.

And what's more, he wasn't the slightest bit interested in getting saved, whatever it meant. But he heard what she said, he filed it away, put it in the memory banks, went on about his business until some crisis hit his life, right? The jail doors fly open.

The prisoners are all free. If he doesn't kill himself, they're probably going to kill him. The biggest crisis of his life hits and now what's he do? He goes back in the memory banks, pulls out what he heard this girl say weeks before and uses it to do business with God.

Here's the point. As followers of Jesus Christ, we often share with people about Christ and they seem to blow it off completely just like the Philippian jailer blew it off the first time he heard it. But friends, when that happens, we need to be careful that we don't get discouraged and that we don't feel like failures and that we don't get down on ourself. We need to learn a very important lesson from the Philippian jailer and that is a lot of times when we tell people about Jesus Christ, they do what the jailer did. They bury it away. It lays dormant inside of them for weeks or for months or for years until some crisis comes along, until some exigency strikes their life. Maybe their spouse walks out on them or maybe the doctor tells them they have cancer or maybe they lose their job or they have problems with their children or somebody they love dies and then all of a sudden, they do exactly what the Philippian jailer did.

They go back into the memory banks, pull out that information that they heard but they weren't the slightest bit interested in when they heard it and they use that information now to conduct business with God just like this jailer did. You know, my dad was that way. When I first became a follower of Christ, I wanted my dad to come to Christ so bad and every time I'd see him, I'd try to talk to him about Jesus as the Messiah. And you know what he did? He'd always do one of two things. Either number one, he would get up and walk out of the room or number two, he'd get up and turn the television up as loud as it would go so he couldn't hear me.

And that went on for seven years and I got so discouraged, I did. I said, Lord, my dad's never coming to Christ. He's listening. He doesn't even care. I mean, this stuff's not sinking into him.

It's bouncing off him like water off a duck's back. Then in October 1976, my dad had his third heart attack and he was in the hospital in Charlottesville, University of Virginia Hospital. I went down to visit him. I walked in his hospital room. There he is sitting up in his hospital bed. And the first thing he says to me when I walk in the room, he says, You know, La, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. He said, And I've begun to think that everything you've been telling me about Jesus as the Messiah is probably right. Friend, I got to tell you, at that moment, they needed to get my dad out the bed and put me in the bed.

I was like, Holy smokes, where is this coming from? And I had the privilege the very next morning of getting down on my knees next to his hospital bed. My dad got out of bed, got down on his knees. I put my arm around my dad's shoulder and I had the privilege of praying with my dad as he asked Jesus into his life to be his personal Messiah.

Now, my dad died one week to the day from the day we got on our knees together. He never left the hospital. He had a fourth heart attack in the hospital and died.

But you know what? All seven of those years, I was convinced he wasn't even listening. But friends, he was just being like the Philippian jailer. He was just filing it away, filing it away, filing it away. And then all of a sudden, when God's time was right and the crisis struck his life where he needed it, he went back and pulled it out and did business with God.

My mom did the same thing, except it took her 22 years. She's a little more hardheaded, you know, Jewish mother, you know what I'm saying? But anyway, she finally came to Christ too, the same way. Now, there's a lesson for us to learn here from the Philippian jailer. And the lesson is that many people that you and I are going to go out and share our faith in Christ with, even this week, are not going to immediately give their life to Jesus Christ. But let's not forget what people say, and that is the opera's not over till the full-figured lady sings. Do you understand what I'm saying?

And we've got to allow time for the full-figured lady to do her thing. A lot of these people are just like the Philippian jailer. No, they're not interested right now, but they're putting it in the database. And one of these days when crisis hits their life, they're going to go back to the database, just like the Philippian jailer did. They're going to pull that information out, and they're going to complete the deal with God. Now, you may not be there to see it. I may not be there to see it. We may be gone to some other place or gone off to heaven. But let me just tell you, folks, there are Philippian jailers all over this city who the first time you talk to them, they're not going to do much of anything.

But, man, put the information in there, because one day they're going to pull it out and use it just like this jailer did. In fact, the Book of Revelation tells us that there are going to be 144,000 Jewish people who, as soon as we leave in the rapture of the church, they're going to turn around and go, Oh, Susie was right. Oh, John was right.

Oh, my goodness. And they're going to give their life to Christ and become 144,000 kosher Billy Grahams at the beginning of the tribulation period. The Bible says that's going to happen. So, friends, all I want to say to you is keep sharing Christ with your doctor, your dentist, and your lawyer. You understand what I'm saying? Because a lot of them are going to come to Christ one of these days. 1 Corinthians 15, 58.

Well, you know, when you're Jewish, you can only be a doctor, a lawyer, or a failure. You know that, right? All right. Now, 1 Corinthians 15, 58. Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Why? Because we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. You've been listening to So What with Dr. Lon Solomon. So What is an outreach of Lon Solomon Ministries. To listen to today's message or for more information, visit our website, lonsolomonministries.org. Thank you for your support. If you would like to contact us, please visit our website or call us at 866-788-7770. We hope you will join us next time when Lon seeks to answer one of life's most important questions, So What.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-16 11:11:01 / 2024-03-16 11:21:41 / 11

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