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What Hell Feared (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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February 27, 2023 6:00 am

What Hell Feared (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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February 27, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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I think it's a question that all Christians should be burdened with. We shouldn't dismiss this and say, well, I'm saved. You know, I got to go to church. I got to go do this.

I got to do that. But I'm saved. We should be burdened for the lost. That's why Paul was taking the beatings because he had a burden for lost souls.

He didn't say, well, you know what, let the world save itself. I'm going to stay up here in Antioch where things are really going nicely. And he ventured out in faith. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of Acts chapter 16 as he begins a new study called What Hell Feared. We'll take verses 25 through 35, Acts chapter 16. But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the prisoners were listening to them. 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.

And the keeper of the prison, awakening from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul, called with a loud voice saying, Do yourself no harm, for we are all here. Then he called for a light, ran in and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now, when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them and rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. Well, of course, Paul and Silas were arrested for performing an exorcism, casting a demon out of a girl.

We don't know her age, but she was young, a young servant girl who was channeling evil spirits. And they were arrested, beaten and put in jail. This message is entitled What Hell Feared, beginning at verse 25. But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

This is defiant misery. Not ministry. It is ministry. They are hurting these two men. Paul would later write to the church at Corinth, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. That coming from a man like this, you pay attention to a lot faster than someone who has not stood in the gap and suffered for what they claim to believe. Beaten, jailed, shackled in a foreign land, too miserable to sleep.

It's midnight. And so the duo breaks out into prayer, and in that order, prayer and song. They began praying. The spirit filled their heart. They began to sing. Such people like this do not escape from jail. They escape in jail. And the people were listening. The other prisoners were listening.

The jailers, they were sleeping. For a while. Reminded of Psalm 95, oh come, let us sing to Yahweh. Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.

Let us shout joyfully to him with psalms. Well, it's kind of easy to do that when things are going well in your life. You have what we would say a pep in your step. But when you've been sucker punched by life, when you've been broadsided, when you've been T-boned by life, it's not always so easy to sing. Maybe sometimes.

But after a while, it gets old. Here, these men did not allow themselves to be done with praising God. In the midst of pain, they were praising the Lord.

The caning they received was not just, you know, like a visit to the dentist and just got a little soreness. They were beaten like animals, publicly, without waiting for their circumstances to change. They are praising the Lord. Without knowing that God, as they were in that jail, even before when they were being beaten, God was fashioning a world of opportunity for these men to bring people to Christ, more people to Christ. You just don't know what God is doing.

He's always working. Jesus said, my Father works till now and I work till now. It says, and the prisoners were listening to them. Did Paul and Silas consider that maybe they were keeping the prisoners away with their singing?

I don't think that was the issue at all. I think they knew that they were heard. I think they could hear the other prisoners before this started. Verse 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.

Well, earthquakes were not unheard of in this region of the world. That's not so much, that's not where the miracle lies at all. It's in the timing of the miracle coinciding with their worship and subsequent events. There's a chain, it's a link.

Here they were praising God. The miracle comes and breaks the shackles, opens the doors. They have an opportunity to escape. They're not going to escape.

They're going to remain. It's a little different from Peter's experiences. We'll come to that momentarily. But this was, of course, the Lord.

Their singing rocked the jailhouse so much so that a man was going to kill himself rather than have the authorities do it for him. We'll come to that too. Verse 27, and the keeper of the prison, awakening from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. This is a man of intense temperament. It's going to show up. When he acts, when he goes into motion, this jail, the little bit we know about him, it is intense. And this is the beginning. He sees they're gone, he's going to kill himself.

Why? Because the penalty for allowing escapees was often, in that ancient world, death. And it shows up in Acts 12, it shows up in Acts 27, and it shows up in secular literature also. So the reason why he was going to kill himself, because he would prefer doing, you know, sometimes if you want to get a job done right, you've just got to do it yourself.

And rather than letting some henchmen butcher the job, he would have settled it. But, verse 28 comes along, but Paul called with a loud voice saying, do yourself no harm, for we are all here. Well, Paul knew what was going on.

He knew that this is the deal in those days. Now, I briefly mentioned it's a different method from with Peter, going back to Acts chapter 12. And I hope, I hope listening to these things is helping you as Christians, receiving either a refreshment from the word of God, or direction, instruction. Don't come to God's house looking to hear anything except from God. You come to church and you think, well, I want to hear the pastor and don't do that.

I would strongly advise don't do that. Just come with empty wineskins and let the Lord fill it. And I love the lessons in scripture, and if I did, now sermons would be 20 minutes. Peter, Acts 12, now behold an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up saying, arise quickly, and the chains fell off his hands. And then Peter got out of the prison, escaped. But Paul's audience is different from Peter's. Peter was in Jerusalem. They had heard the gospel. They knew about Jesus and all that he was doing.

It wasn't that far after the crucifixion and ascension into heaven. Paul's audience did not hear the gospel. Oh, they heard Paul and Silas going through the town saying, you know, preaching the way of salvation and demon-possessed channel girl going before them. But they had not the opportunity that those in Jerusalem had. And here, Paul and Silas opted to remain in jail to save the jailer's life, and even they did not know that they would be used by God to save the soul of the jailer.

This is a lot of, you know, we read these things, we want to see them happening in our lives, except that caning part. Verse 29, then he called for light, ran in, fell down, trembling before Paul and Silas. Paul's there, verse 29. Now remember, there are other prisoners present and there are other prison guards.

They are also, that's when the jailer called for them to bring the light. But he comes in trembling, and I mentioned to you that he was a man of intense temperament. He's going to kill himself because, well, you know, the prisoners are gone, it's going to happen to me anyway.

He gets past that. He comes in and he is shaking physically. This had a physiological impact on this man, all that was going on. Verse 30, and he brought them out and said, sirs, what must I do to be saved? Instant reversal from killing himself to not killing himself, having this physical effect on him, this outward demonstration of what was happening on the inside. He had stood on the ledge of death and one of the prisoners, the voice of these believers, the voice of righteousness, saved him from that fatal step. Then God saved him from his spiritual state of death because the man was already dead spiritually. All are dead spiritually before Christ comes, Ephesians 2, verse 1 and verse 5. And you he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins. And then continuing verse 5 in Ephesians 2, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved. So Paul's writing the church at Ephesus and he says, you were dead in your sins. Then he goes on and says, we were dead in our sins, all of us are.

We start off under the curse. We have to come to salvation. But where did this question come from in this man? Where did he know to ask to be saved? Somehow the idea about salvation got to him, enough of it to know in this desperate state that his soul was in a more desperate position than his life. Salvation as a doctrine was really not part of other religions in the ancient world and it really is not a part of religions today. Not like it is in Christianity.

Even the Old Testament awaits clarification on salvation through Christ in the New Testament. Others really developed. The Greek and the Roman belief systems, they had no concept of salvation. The gods were the gods. And the underworld was the underworld, not like a mob, but the afterlife, that world. And they had more questions in their religions than answers. The philosophers, you know the great philosophers of the ancient world, Aristotle and Plato, they had more questions than answers. Christ comes along and he says, I say to you, the prophets would come along, thus says the Lord, Christ comes along, well I say to you. Because he is the Son of God, God the Son. Most world religions have no concept of God's plan of salvation.

Most of them are works-based. If you do good enough, you pay enough, you have to do something to be saved. And of course Christianity comes and just changes all of that. And this man got enough of that understanding in him. Clearly the message that Paul and Silas were preaching in Philippi had circulated throughout Philippi enough, enough for him to know this was different and what they were saying. Well the girl, she followed in verse 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.

Yeah, that's true, but coming from her it had to be stopped. She just echoed, she parroted what they were preaching. My point of all of this is to say, here's the jailer sleeping in his bed, going on with his life, no sense of need for salvation. There's this dramatic moment where the earthquake comes and now he's in fear for his life. Today, today, how do you get people to want to come to you and say, how do I get saved?

How am I spared a judgment from a holy God? We can't just snap our fingers and create an earthquake in their life. I think back in the 80s and the 90s, the 70s, the 80s and 90s, there's just a different spirit around Christianity. There were more people interested in the gospel, but today it doesn't seem that way.

I have to be careful because I have a linear life, you know, from home to church, pick up milk and back home. But it's different. Why aren't people coming and saying to us, what must I do to be saved? I think it's a question that all Christians should be burdened with. We shouldn't dismiss this and say, well, I'm saved. You know, I've got to go to church, I've got to go do this, I've got to do that, but I'm saved. We should be burdened for the lost. That's why Paul was taking the beatings, because he had a burden for lost souls. He didn't say, well, you know what, let the world save itself.

I'm going to stay up here in Antioch where things are really going nicely. He ventured out in faith. The jailer, what must I do to be saved? Saved from what? Somehow he had to understand that he was in jeopardy, that it was real to him, and it was so real to him. The man was shaking, questioned that those in Jericho did not ask Joshua, neither did any of the Canaanites, with the exception of Rahab, he's the only one that connected the dots and came to a conclusion.

And when you connect the dots of a picture, you finally figure out what the picture looks like. And she knew, she heard the stories of the Jews, and she knew that they were coming and that Yahweh was with them, and she wanted to be with them. But the rest of them did not.

They were going to fight to the last man, resisting this God of the Jews, those of antiquity. They scoffed at Noah, they scoffed at the message of the angels, with Lot, you know, his sons-in-law, they laughed at him, the Bible tells us. That is full of lessons there for the Christian. Is your testimony, do people not take you serious as a Christian? One of the problems with kooky Christianity is the world won't take you serious after a while. One of the benefits of knowing the Word of God is they are forced to take you seriously whether they like you or not, whether they come to Christ or not.

Well, they scoff to this day. I think back before Christ grabbed hold of me, how blind I was, like I was in a lead box or something, oblivious, just oblivious. I would never have known to come to someone and say, what must I do to be saved? And I've got to remember that as I look to be used by God to save souls. I give an invitation to accept Christ every Sunday morning because I never want this assembly to think that somehow saving souls is secondary to Bible teaching. They go together like a head and a heart.

They're inseparable. The purpose of you learning the Bible is to be used by God and that call to be used by God must exceed your service in the church. It must go into, if you can't preach to them, you can pray for them. This should not be a day that goes by that you don't pray for some lost soul. I don't mean just your family members. It's easier to pray for them.

They're annoying. Verse 31, so they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household. The man asked and the men were ready with the answer. Straight to the point, no religion, no seminary, no created doctrine, no money, no work, receive Christ, believe in Christ. Romans 10 verses 9 and 10, if you believe that he is the Lord, that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. You have to receive salvation.

That invitation is incredible. John's Gospel chapter 1 verse 12, but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in his name. You see, it's a mutual relationship. It's not just God, I'm saving you and that's that. And it's not man saying, I will be saved.

It is working together. You get the invitation, you either receive it or you reject it. If you receive it, then God steps in in a big way and you are born again and a new creation in the eyes of God. And then John chapter 6, most assuredly Jesus said, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. This is why the apostles loved him. What happened when Jesus after the resurrection was at the lake shore of Galilee and they were on the boat and they recognized it was him. John said, it is the Lord. The next thing that John heard was a splash in the water.

Peter had just jumped in with swimming. He just said, I can't wait. That excitement should never leave us. That excitement. And me, you know, again, you can't flame all the time, but you can burn all the time. You can burn hot for Christ. Job did it the whole time he suffered. He still burned for God. And that's why when Job says, oh, he slays me, I will trust in him.

Job was very realistic. If it's not God laying this on me, then who else could it be? A profound statement on the sovereignty of God. And instead of saying, well, he is that sovereign and he's letting this happen to me, I reject him. That is not what he did.

He stood up to those boys that accused him of all sorts of things with their poorly thought-out, short-sighted doctrine. Anyway, coming back to this, God has made salvation so simple. As I mentioned, Romans 10, 9, and 10, just a simple step.

And of course, humans come along and they complicate it. It can't be that simple. You have to do this.

You have to do that. They may not verbalize it, but oftentimes they're practicing it. Romans 10, 9, and 10, if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

This is not lightweight stuff. When you were born again, you appreciate it. But we're born again to get others to appreciate it.

And I'd like to stir you any chance I can to have a burden to reach lost souls. It starts with prayer. Well, straight to the point, just a step, a step of faith out of the darkness, not into the darkness. It's into the light of Christ. And these Christians, they marched into Philippi sounding the note of hope because that's what the world needs, hope for lost souls. They don't believe it money. There's going to be those you have to knock the dust off your feet and keep going, but there'll be others that will be saved.

A holy God, a holy God, the holy God, cared enough for sinners of all type to make a way for them to come in heaven. And you can have your place setting in heaven at the king's banquet table, or you can go to hell. It's your choice. It's your choice. Should I fluff that up? Should I make it sound like hell really ain't that bad and you'll do okay?

That would be crazy. I'm not going to do something like that. To hear these men, they believed, Paul and Silas. They were beaten by others for preaching that they believed.

They were more than conquerors. And he says here, and you will be saved. No doubt in their voice, no hesitation, no, well, you should be saved.

Straight out, you will be saved. That's what the world wants. They don't want more questions. They want Christians to be excited about their, why should anybody be excited about your testimony and you're not excited? That drill, you know, we talk about the Christmas songs, the thrill of the coming of Christ. Well, we should have that all the time. Anyway, this is the great answer that Christ has committed to every believer. Believe on the Lord and you will be saved.

Everyone can have that confidence. Now had God said, well, you need to pay your way into heaven, then the poor would have been eliminated immediately. It would not have been the good news. Had God said, earn your way into heaven, what about so many handicapped people who cannot earn a sick?

They would be doomed. But he said, believe and anybody can believe. Anybody can believe. And maybe we need to point that out to people. Maybe we should say to them, you know, anybody can believe. Or anybody can go to hell. What do you say? It says, you and your household.

Now, there are some that want to make that all complicated. It is certain that those in the jailer's family will also be saved if they believe. That's all it means. You'll be saved if you believe, so will the people in your house, so will the people down at the marketplace, down at the garage, down at the chariot wheel making shop. Anybody who believes will be saved.

It's not, well, you got to be such and such a weight or such and such a height or such and such a country. Gospel doesn't factor any of that in. What it factors in is that you believe. Romans 1. Now Paul, when he writes the Romans, the Roman letter, he's writing to believers that have been around a while, and he's been around a while, and yet the basics are still a priority.

The majors are the majors. And he says, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, which makes you say, are you? Then he says, it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes and is ready to take a beating for it, too. You could add that, right?

All who believe. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross-Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at or simply search for Cross-Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the Book of Acts, right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 06:22:12 / 2023-02-27 06:31:47 / 10

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