Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
The explosive power of the Gospel was felt in the world of the first century. The Holy Spirit began convicting of sin, causing a fearful jailer to ask, what must I do to be saved? Today, more on prison doors flinging open and faith being birthed anew. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.
Pastor Lutzer, it was a perceived loss of revenue that caused the authorities to jail Paul and Silas. I guess not everyone is happy when the Gospel begins to spread. Dave, not only is everyone not happy, but frequently the Gospel is strongly resisted. I've written a new book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. In the very first chapter, I make the point that evil never retreats on its own. It only retreats when it meets a superior force.
And what could that superior force be? Well, that's the Church. That's the Gospel that was proclaimed in the book of Acts, the Gospel that the Church of Jesus Christ today must recapture. I want to ask you a question today. Should we interpret the Bible through the lens of culture, or should we interpret culture through the lens of the Bible? Those are the kinds of issues I discuss in my brand new book. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. And now let us listen as the Gospel went forth in the first century. Paul says to this spirit, not the girl, but to the spirit, come out of her. And the spirit in the name of Jesus had to obey. Well, you'd think everybody'd be happy. I'm sure there were people there who said, you know, we're seeing her smile for the first time.
No, not so. You'll notice it says, verse 19, but when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And they had them brought to the magistrates and they said, these men are Jews and they are disturbing our city.
They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice. The crowd joined in attacking them and the magistrates tore the garments off of them and gave them orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.
Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison. That's called maximum security and fastened their feet in the stocks. You've taken away our means of gain. People who use other people's weakness and addictions to gain themselves for gain of themselves are evil people. You have it happening every day on the street corners of Chicago, some street corners. Drugs are sold where there are those who want to get you into the drug market and get you hooked so that you become a constant source of money for them. We see this in pornography. Hugh Hefner could never have his quote empire as it is called if it were not for the fact that there are millions of addicts, pornography addicts that support him. It is built on the backs of addicts. And by the way, he wants your son and he wants some very, very young so that he can depend on him for resources in the years to come. They're evil people who use other people's weaknesses for gain.
Nobody seems to be happy that this girl is delivered. What we're going to do is to take these men and to beat them. And it says that they complained that he was doing things that are unlawful. By the way, that's one way to shut the gospel down is to make it unlawful. And it is happening here in society in America. I heard recently that there was a policeman who had a Bible study in his home and he was fined for having that because after all, his home wasn't zoned for a church.
You can have all kinds of laws. The ACLU would like to criminalize all public expressions of Christianity in the so-called public square. It is unlawful for you to come here and preach the gospel.
It is unlawful for you in the name of Jesus to deliver this girl. That's what they were saying. And they beat Paul and Silas, not Luke and Timothy, because Paul and Silas were Jews. And they beat them up with rods.
Now, just think about that. Your back is lacerated. You've been hit in the legs. You're just literally writhing in pain and they keep hitting you and hitting you and hitting you. And then they throw you into prison and put you in the innermost part of the prison.
Well, I think if that happened to any of us, I think at that point we'd be discouraged. Paul and Silas began to curse. Isn't that what the Bible says? Well, if that's what your Bible says, you're reading today from the reversed vision.
It's a bad translation. Verse 25. At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. And 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 bonds were unfastened.
You know, the jailer put them in jail and then he went for supper, intending to have a good night of sleep. Suddenly the earthquake takes place. And the earthquake isn't the great miracle in this passage. It's the fact that these men were able to sing and give praise to God for what happened. And their hymns in the prison begin over there and people can easily trace it. Where's the noise coming from?
Where's the sound coming from? And lo and behold, it's Paul and Silas. Without clothes, beaten, cold, in pain, welts, they're singing.
Wow. Well, the prisoner, the jailer rather, verse 27, he saw what had happened. He drew his sword and was about to kill himself because in those days, if you didn't keep prisoners, it was your life.
If you let them go, if it was because of negligence, he wants to kill himself. But Paul cried with a loud voice, do not harm yourself for we are all here. And the jailer called for lights and rushed in and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas and he brought them out and says, sirs, what must I do to be saved? One of the most famous verses in all the Bible. I learned it when I suppose I was five years old, Acts chapter 16 verse 31 and they said, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household. If Lydia represents the tender heart and if the slave girl represents the tormented heart, here you have a jailer who represents the tough heart and God is going to show that he can use circumstances, he can use opposition to have his will done.
I wonder how many of us believe that when it comes to opposition, we don't want to know about it and we complain about it. These apostles had the faith to believe that opposition could be used of God to accomplish his purpose because there was a jailer that needed to be converted. So the jailer believes and his household, it says in verse 32, they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all were in his house and he took him the same hour of the night and washed their wounds and he was baptized at once and his family. I've known Christians who've been saved for 10 years and they've never been baptized.
Could you learn from the jailer? He gets saved that night, probably knowing very little about theology. How do we know that he was saved? By the way, immediately there was a heart change. Immediately he's saying, come in and I'm going to wash your wounds and I'm going to give you some supper. And then they explained to him that he should be identified with Jesus Christ in baptism and they preach the word to all who are in the house and everybody is saved and everybody is baptized.
Wow. Now this verse has often been misinterpreted. You have, for example, the idea of household salvation that if you as parents are saved, this means it's a guarantee that your children will be.
No, no, no, no. Notice that they preached the word to all who were in the house and they all believed. That's the whole idea. It's also been misinterpreted because this is a great verse for those who believe in infant baptism. They say, see, the whole household was baptized.
Surely there was a little baby there. Well, I don't know what Bible you're reading, but I don't see anything about babies here. I hear that they went and they preached the word to all who were in the house. I don't think they went over to the crib and preached the word to the baby and then baptized him. But nonetheless, you'll notice in verse 34, they brought them up into his house, set food before them, and he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. What a story. What a story.
Let's just pause for a minute here and catch our breath. What was it about the early Christians that helped them transform their world and their culture? What did they have that perhaps we don't? What was this motivation, this sense of invincibility that would not stop them? Well, first of all, number one was faith. Faith. Faith that the gospel could spread no matter the opposition. They believed that no heart was too hard. No situation was too difficult for God. They did not look at the laws of the land as being a hindrance to their proclamation of the gospel. They did not allow the situations of persecution, the beatings. Paul says, by the way, in Corinthians, three times I was beaten with rods.
Never stopped him. Just kept on going because they believed that God was in everything, even the opposition that they had. I envy their faith.
I wish I had that kind of faith. Secondly, joy. Joy just erupts from these pages.
You'll notice it says that the jailer rejoiced. When you read the book of Acts, it's just like getting joy in your face like you get water from a jet ski. Just all over, there's joy, joy. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy.
It always adds. Where in the world is all that coming from? You know, of course, the filling of the Spirit, love, joy, and nobody could shut it off.
Now, let me speak to you candidly. Why don't we have that kind of joy? I think I know, and I don't particularly like the answer, but it's a true answer. Sin causes the cup of joy to spring a leak. Sin siphons joy from our hearts like a hose siphons gasoline out of your car tank. Sin blocks all joy. Sin is always angry, negative, and lacks the eruption of the Spirit. Here, we find joy because they believe that God was in it and it didn't matter. They'd be faithful no matter what.
Let me read to you the words of Michael Green, whom I also met, by the way, when I was in Europe last week. You cannot defeat men like this, he says. Tell them to keep quiet and they disobey you. Throw them into prison and they convert the jailer. Whip them and they rejoice to be allowed to suffer for Christ's name. Stone them to within an inch of their lives in one city and they carry on with just the very same message in the next. Kill them and others arise to take their place.
Endurance like that simply has to win in the long run. You see what the disciples believed sitting there in prison, Paul and Silas, with all these wounds and all these pains and their feet cramped. What they believed were the words of Jesus, blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for so treated they the prophets that were before you. Every bit of opposition was considered as a reason for joy and they just went on believing. And then of course, last, not only faith and joy, but they had this confidence in the gospel message. They believed that the gospel could change people and obviously there in Philippi it did. Now, this is the beginning of the church in Philippi. You have a woman with a tender heart and she's a business woman who has done well. Her name is Lydia. You have this tormented girl and she becomes a believer after Paul's intervention in her life, I'm sure, and the demons leave so that she can believe.
And then you have a jailer, the tough man. And isn't it interesting, same message for all of them, same message for the poor as for the rich, the educated and the uneducated. And it is the gospel that binds them together. And years later, the apostle Paul is going to write a book of the New Testament called the book of Philippians, and it is written to the church at Philippi.
And as you know, that book is filled with the topic of joy. And these are the people to whom he's going to write and encourage in the faith, the confidence of the gospel. I have confidence that the gospel could change you today if you believed.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Because Jesus died for sinners and because he died for sinners and because he triumphed over evil, there is no spirit in this world that will not obey the command of Jesus. When Jesus says leave, he must leave because Jesus is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God of all gods. And that's why you and I need to have the same confidence, the confidence that when we take people to a service where the gospel is preached or word is performed, that that gospel can change them, that the hardness of their heart, the indifference that they have shown can be overcome by a message empowered by the Spirit. And that's why we witness at work.
That's why we are sensitive to the Spirit's leading in offices, hospitals, banks, wherever God has placed us. Well, what does it mean to believe on Jesus? Well, you know, there is this story about a doctor who said to a patient who is witnessing to him, I believe in God and I believe in Jesus, but I have no assurance of my salvation.
Maybe you're here today like that. You believe in God, you believe in Jesus, but you have no assurance of your salvation. And the patient said, well, prior to my coming here months ago, I knew about you. I believed in you, but more recently you gave me a prescription I couldn't read.
I gave it to a pharmacist whom I've never met and he gave me medicine that I cannot pronounce, but I accepted it and it's worked. Now I trust you. I not only believe in you, now I have proved my trust.
And that's the bottom line. What that tough man, you know, the guy, I dare you to convert me. That's the kind of man the jailer was before the earthquake. He changed his mind afterwards. That message changed him, changed his household. It can change you and change your household too.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ transfer your trust to him and you shall be saved. There you have it. Transforms culture because it transforms people and can transform you today right now.
I mean right now. Let us pray. Father, I want to thank you so much for these accounts that have been so beautifully preserved and so accurately preserved in your word. Thank you for the courage of the early church. Thank you, Father, that there was nothing that could stop them because of irrepressible joy and faith and confidence. Would you do that in my heart and would you do that in the heart of the members and the friends and the attenders at Moody Church? Would you, Father, by your spirit, teach us anew what it is to represent you where you've planted us? And for those who have never trusted Christ as savior, even as I pray this prayer, may they call out to you and say, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust him for my salvation. You can say that wherever you are, whether you are here today, listening by radio, on the Internet.
I'm giving you a moment. Call out to Jesus today. Tender heart, tormented heart, tough heart. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Father, hear the cry of all of us today, we pray. And may we be willing to follow you no matter the cost. In Jesus' name. Amen. My friend, if you've never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, do that right now. Call out to the Lord.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. But I also want to ask you this question. The church that you attend, how would you describe it? Is it complicit with the culture? Is it complacent? In other words, does your church go on as if the culture doesn't matter?
Or is it courageous? Does your church speak to the culture? And by the way, what is the role of the Christian and politics? These are the kinds of questions I answer in the very first chapter of my new book entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. I deal with a number of different issues, issues that Christians face today. The question is, are we going to reclaim the culture?
I think that that might not be possible, but my burden is, can we reclaim the church? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me give you that info again, rtwoffer.com.
Call us at 1-888-218-9337. Mars Hill in Athens is a mound of granite facing the famous Acropolis with its temples to pagan gods. Here, Paul the Apostle preached the Gospel with power to a group of philosophers who enjoyed argument.
They were watching the beginning of a spiritual tidal wave that would engulf the known world. Next time, go with us to Athens and witness the power of God confront a pagan culture. It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastor's book, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture, will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support Running to Win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Or, write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 14:47:13 / 2022-12-23 14:55:16 / 8