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How to Look Up When Things Look Down | Uncomplicating the Gospel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2022 3:00 am

How to Look Up When Things Look Down | Uncomplicating the Gospel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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September 6, 2022 3:00 am

Some people come to Christ instantly, as soon as they hear the Gospel. It’s the miracle of a moment. Others resist that decision for decades, until one day they realize their need for Christ. Sometimes it’s a crisis or tragedy that brings them to that point, other times it’s as though their eyes suddenly opened. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us the miraculous conversion of a certain Philippian jailer . . . a conversion that would sweep through his entire family.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey, everybody. You're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at Again, it's

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to I'm offering Paul and Silas to want to become a believer. What must I do to be saved?

He asks. And Paul says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Why do we complicate this message? It's so simple.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. That's it. That's our message. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day where life begins. Some people come to Christ instantly as soon as they hear the gospel. It's the miracle of a moment. Others resist that decision for decades until one day they realize their need for Christ. Sometimes it's a crisis or tragedy that brings them to that point.

Other times it's as though their eyes suddenly open. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us the miraculous conversion of a certain Philippian jailer. A conversion that would sweep through his entire family.

It's the day, the day where life begins. Grab your Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 16 and the title of my message is How to Look Up When Things Look Down. Now what we're reading about here in the book of Acts is the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. And Paul now has a new wingman and his name is Silas.

So now they're headed to a place called Philippi. So he arrives with Silas and there's this lady there and her name is Lydia. Lydia was a very affluent woman. It says that she sold purple garments.

So back in this day treating expensive cloth with expensive purple dye would be what we would call a designer gown, a designer shirt. So this is a woman who was very affluent, very well off and this is the first convert of this second missionary journey. So here's the devil now with his counter attack. Acts 16 verse 16, as we went to prayer a certain slave girl possessed with the spirit of divination who brought her masters much profit started following us. So this demon possessed woman now starts following the apostles. She was shouting, these men are servants of the most high and have come to tell you how to be saved. Actually this word she said could be translated, she shrieked. So here's Paul and Silas walking along to Philippi. She's behind them screaming out, they're servants of the most high God.

This woman's really getting to my nerves. And it's interesting because in the original language it says she had the spirit of python. And what that means is there was a myth that the python snake guarded the temple of Apollo. And so there was this weird demonic thing. And so Paul casts the demon out. Well now the people who were controlling this woman, effectively trafficking her, pimping her out if you will, and making a lot of money off of her were outraged. Because this witchy woman was their source of income.

So when they exorcise the demon they also exorcise the income for her masters. So now they're angry. Acts 16 verse 20, they go and try to whip up the people and the whole city is in uproar because of these Jews they shouted. They're teaching the people to do things against Roman customs. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas and the city officials ordered them stripped and beat them with wooden rods.

So we pick up in Acts 16 verse 23 what happened after that. They were severely beaten. Then they were thrown into prison and the jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. So he took no chances and put them into the inner dungeon and clapped their feet in the stocks.

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening. Verse 26 suddenly there was a great earthquake and the prison was shaken at its foundations and the doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped and he drew a sword to kill himself. Paul shouted to him, don't do it.

We're all here. Trembling with fear the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas and he brought them out and asked, sirs what must I do to be saved? They replied believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved along with your entire household. Then they shared the word of the Lord with him and all who lived in his household. The same hour the jailer washed their wounds he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized and he brought them into his house and set a meal before them.

He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Isn't that one of the greatest stories in the Bible? So Paul and Silas are flogged. Verse 24 says he clamped their feet in stalks. They were thrown into a dark filthy underground hole.

A vermin filled dungeon. Their shredded backs were laid open from the whipping. They were put on hard ground. They were in these stalks that were spread causing excruciating pain and they didn't know what their future was. They didn't know they were going to be delivered. Paul and Silas had not read act 16 yet.

They were living it in real time. As I've often said jokingly, Job never read the book of Job. He didn't know how the story ended. They might be free because God delivered Peter but they might die because God allowed James, excuse me, Stephen to be martyred.

Well James as well actually. So he didn't know how this story would end but that's what makes this all the more remarkable when it says in verse 25 around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening. You ever wake up in the middle of the night and you're troubled by something? Yeah something's bothering you. Some worry.

Some anxiety. That's a good time to pray. I don't know if you should sing. You might wake up your spouse if you're married but you could but remind yourself of scripture.

Correct your thinking with what the word of God says and that's a good thing to do. In fact the psalmist writes in some 42 verse 8 through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me and through each night I sing his songs praying to God who gives me life. They're singing praises to God and the other prisoners were listening.

By the way this word for listening means to listen very carefully or literally to listen with pleasure. I don't think anyone had ever heard anyone sing in this dungeon before. Now were Paul and Silas doing a two part harmony? You know Linda McCartney, Everly Brothers, something like that?

I don't think so. But the fact that they were giving glory to God in such adverse circumstances really caused others to pay attention. Listening with pleasure. Have you ever been maybe driving along and you have the radio on and you're listening to music and a song you like comes on so you turn it up? Oh I want to hear this. I love this song. Then you sing along with it. Then someone turns the volume off and you're singing all by yourself and you don't sound nearly as good as you thought you did.

Well they're singing praises to God. Everyone's listening because this is such an unexpected thing and it reminds us there that there's a lost world out there and they're watching you and I as a Christian and they're watching what we do when things go the wrong way. How do we handle it when a child goes prodigal? How do we handle it when we're laid off at work? How do we handle it when we get sick?

How do we handle it when hardship comes into our life? And when we can still give glory to God that is a powerful testimony that will open their heart as it did in the life of the jailer. He had never seen anything like this before. He was moved very deeply. Now an earthquake comes and it's a supernatural earthquake because no earthquake would break chains off of your hands necessarily. All the doors fling open. This guy's ready to kill himself. Why? Because if you're a Roman jailer given this responsibility and your prisoners escape you will be put to death.

So he thought I'm just going to do it myself. And Paul stops them. Don't hurt yourself. We're all here still. And this man falls down before them. And I love the verbiage and I use King James here instead of new living. Sirs, what must I do to be saved? A term of respect.

Sirs, gentlemen, whatever you have I want it. What must I do to be saved? So Paul gives him the truth of the gospel. You see Paul probably could relate to this guy. He thought oh yeah I know this guy. I used to be this guy.

Except maybe I was a little worse. The fact that this man could whip them and treat them so horribly. Well Paul used to hunt down Christians. Send them to prison. Even kill them. So he thought I used to be that way.

I want to help this guy out. What must I do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. And immediately the jailer believes and he washes their wounds. Verse 33 says and everyone in his household was immediately baptized.

Now I love how his whole home was impacted. A lot of times the way that Jesus comes into a family is through one person. One person believes. They become a Christian. And now this kind of upsets the family.

Jesus said do you think that I've come to bring peace to the earth? No I tell you division. A mother will be divided against her daughter. A father against his son.

Your enemies will be those of your own household. We read that and say what? I thought Jesus came to bring peace.

He did and he does. But sometimes before that peace there is a division. Let me illustrate it because many of you have lived this. So you become a Christian and at Thanksgiving maybe there was a lot of drinking and a lot of partying and a lot of whatever.

That was my life before. But now you're a Christian and you say you know I'd like to pray when it's time to eat. Say grace. You've never said grace in your family before.

And okay whatever. Let's pray. And you pray your prayer.

And a lot of people don't like it one bit. But then one other family member comes to Christ. Then another one comes to Christ. So there's division at first.

Resentment. But now they're coming to Jesus one by one. And before you know it, it's a Christian family. I've seen it happen so many times.

Passed on from generation to generation. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. I don't know if you know about this but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world. Listen to this. We even have Harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God.

So join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Well we're in Acts 16 today as Pastor Greg presents this message, How to Look Up When Things Look Down. So look at all of the people that Paul and Silas reach in this chapter. The up and the outer, a lady named Lydia. The down and the outer, the demon possessed woman. The soldier somewhere in the middle. So Lydia the designer, the former snake girl and a jailer.

Python girl. All these people come to faith. The rich and the poor, the slave and the free, the man and the woman all one in Christ and ready to rock their world. And they became the nucleus of the church of Philippi that Paul wrote an epistle to known as Philippians right.

Now let me come back and consider the question of the jailer. What must I do to be saved? What must I do to be saved he asks. And Paul says believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Why do we complicate this message? This is the apostle Paul.

A very credible source that we can look to on how to share the gospel. As I said earlier people can get so tied up into a theological pretzel as they're trying to articulate the gospel. No one can understand it. I don't even think the person describing it understands it. It's so simple.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. That's it. That's our message. But we have to define it. What does it mean to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? It's a mere intellectual assent to the fact that a man named Jesus came to this world, died on a cross and even rose from the dead. It includes that but there's much more. Because the Bible says the demons believe in tremble. Going back to Python girl. What was she saying?

These men are servants of the most high God. Was that technically true? Actually it was. It's just the way she said it. And that she was possessed by a demon. Even the demons believe in tremble you see. So some people say I believe in Jesus therefore I'm saved. Well do you believe in the way the Bible tells you to believe?

Jesus said for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. By implication believing means to take hold of one thing and let go of another. Or to put it another way it's to believe in and repent of. See you have to repent of your sins. On the day of Pentecost Peter said, they said what shall we do?

They wanted to believe. He says repent and be converted. In times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord. To repent means to turn from known sin. Now honestly you may not know all the stuff you're doing is sin yet. So you repent of what you know to repent of. And as you get to know the Lord better you repent of poor things. Because you realize there's a lot of things that aren't right.

But the point is is believing means to trust in to cling to and rely on. It's to put your full weight on something. I'm putting my full weight of 160 pounds. What are you laughing?

What are you laughing? That's my left leg okay. I'm putting my full weight on this platform.

I'm expecting it to hold me. And you put your full weight in Christ as I pointed out earlier. It's not Christ plus good works. Christ plus baptism. Christ plus X Y or Z. It's Jesus and Jesus alone.

I believe in Him. That's what it means. You say well save. That's kind of a weird word.

I don't think it's weird at all. Isn't it the perfect word? I mean if someone was in a burning building and a courageous firefighter rushed in and brought them out. If you read about it later it would probably say a person was saved. If someone was drowning out in the ocean caught in a rip tide and a lifeguard swam out to save them.

That's the word we used. They saved them. And this is what God does. He saves us. You say He saves us from what? He saves us for starters from future judgment. Romans 5 9 says since we've been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ He will save us from God's judgment. How will I be saved? The Bible says whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. And that's what we need to do.

We call on His name. You know sometimes you hear people say well I tried Christianity. I tried Jesus Christ. It didn't work for me. Well I immediately dismiss your statement.

Because I know you didn't try Jesus. First of all He's not a product. Okay so what's a return policy on this?

I'll be honest with you I like to play around with gadgets okay. So I'll order something online but first thing I do return policy. Can I return this?

Is there a restocking fee? Okay good. Because I want to see this in real life and I want to see if I like it. Look at it. I don't like it. Or hey I do like it. Whatever.

So people come to Jesus. Alright what's a return policy? It's not working. I tried it for a whole week. Jesus Christ is not a product. If it didn't work it's because you failed not because He failed. Because He's not an it. He's a yin.

And He'll change you. I'd be like a person saying yeah I tried the whole medicine thing. It didn't work for me. I'm still sick. Wait what happened? Well you went down to the doctor. He did a diagnosis of your problem. Said you need to take this medication twice a day until the bottle is done.

And I think you'll be better. So you go down. You get your prescription filled.

And you never open it. Never do anything the doctor said. You get sicker. Yeah I tried medicine. It didn't work for me. No you didn't follow the doctor's directions. Or I tried the whole health club thing. I did the whole gym membership. You joined a gym. Yes I did. Did you ever go to the gym?

Oh yeah. What did you do? Stood around and talked. Then went for donuts afterwards. Okay that's you. That's on you.

Don't say you tried the gym and it didn't work. You didn't do what you were supposed to do. So if you really believe in Jesus. And you start following Jesus. And you repent of your sins. And you start reading the Bible. And you get involved in the church. And you develop a prayer life. Your life is going to change.

I'm just telling you right now. That's guaranteed. Don't worry about the return policy.

You won't want to return anything. Yeah so believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved. So let me close with that. Maybe there's somebody here and there aren't people here.

It's just weird things preachers say. Maybe there's somebody here. Well aren't you talking to people?

Yes but I say this. Somebody here. There probably is someone here who says I'm here at church.

I like it here. I don't fully understand all of this. I do want to change. But I don't know that I'm saved. I mean I don't have the guaranteed assurance that I'm going to go to heaven.

Well let's clear that up. Because I'm telling you can walk out of here today knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt. Your sin is forgiven and you're going to heaven one day. What does Jesus say? He says for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son. Whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Believe in him.

How do you do that? Well the jailer do. He just believed right there. I believe. Alright let's go for it.

Let's baptize you guys. This is amazing. How long did that take him to do? It doesn't say in a month past. No. It was immediate. That's how quickly God will save you and forgive you of your sin. Let me give you an opportunity in closing to get right with God. And be saved and know that you'll go to heaven one day. And be ready for the Lord's return. Let's make sure you're right with God.

Let's pray. Father I pray for any person here now. If they don't know you I pray at this very moment your Holy Spirit will work in their hearts. And bring those that are not saved to you to be saved, to be forgiven, to be made right with God. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important closing prayer. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. And then we want to mention Pastor Greg's compelling resource called Revelation, a Book of Promises. Now Pastor Greg, nearly everyone can think of a question they'd like to ask about the Book of Revelation. Maybe something about the 144,000 or if believers will be here when the Antichrist is revealed. Will they find answers in your new book?

100% they will. Let me just give quick answer to every one of those questions. Who are the 144,000? There are 144,000 Jewish people who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. There's sort of like 144,000 kosher Billy Grahams combing the planet, sharing the gospel, and they're under divine protection. And then you mentioned, will believers be here to see the Antichrist?

I think the simple answer is no. Because the Bible says, he who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way, and then will that wicked one be revealed whom the Lord will destroy with the brightness of his coming. The restraining force in the world today is the work of the Holy Spirit through the church. It is my opinion that Antichrist cannot be revealed until the church is removed. So we should not waste time looking for Antichrist, but instead be looking for Jesus Christ. So the main thing we want to focus on is being ready to meet the Lord.

So I answer those questions and a lot more in this book called Revelation, a Book of Promises. It's hardcover. This is a pretty thick book, folks.

And we're going to send it to you for your gift of any size. Because I believe this is going to be a resource that you can go to time and time again as you study this book. It's understandable. It's down to earth.

It's practical. I don't use a lot of theological language. I speak in a way that you can grasp it. And I want to send you this book again for your gift of any size. Whatever you can send, we'll use to reach more people with the gospel and the teaching of the Word of God. Yeah, and we so much appreciate that investment.

It's really an investment in touching and changing lives. So get in touch today with that donation. And we'll thank you with a copy of Pastor Greg's book, Revelation, a Book of Promises. And by the way, we'll include a bookmark designed by our team to show the timeline of end times events very clearly.

What comes before what, what comes after what. So write us today at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us any time around the clock at 1-800-821-3300. 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to And then Pastor Greg, just before we go, would you mind praying with the person listening who wants to make a change today in their relationship with the Lord? I'd be happy to Dave. You know, as you've been listening to this today, maybe you've heard another voice. By that I mean, yeah you heard me say a few things, but you heard God's voice speak to you. Deep in the recesses of your heart. And it suddenly dawned on you, this is what I need. Or to state it more accurately, this is who I need. I need Jesus and I want Jesus.

But maybe you don't know how to make that connection. Let me help you. Pray this after me right now if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. And I am sorry for my sin. And I need your forgiveness right now. Would you come into my heart and my life as Savior, as God, as friend?

I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for calling me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. I know that was a relatively short prayer. Maybe you felt something as you prayed it. Maybe you felt nothing.

That doesn't really matter. Because God's word says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. It doesn't say so you may think you have it or you may hope you have it if God's in a good mood.

No, that you can know it. And I want you to know if you prayed that prayer and meant it, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come into your life. So congratulations. You're now a Christian. Now continue to follow the Lord. And to help you, we'd like to send you some resource materials we call our New Believers' Growth Packet.

It'll answer many of the questions you might have and get you started off right in your new relationship with the Lord. So get in touch and ask for it. We'll send it to you free of charge. Just call 1-800-821-3300.

That's our 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to and click on Know God. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings us great encouragement on the challenge of reaching out with the gospel to a culture that's lost its way. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 13:59:41 / 2023-03-01 14:10:30 / 11

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