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A New Creature in Christ - Life of Paul Part 39

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
August 28, 2020 1:00 pm

A New Creature in Christ - Life of Paul Part 39

So What? / Lon Solomon

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August 28, 2020 1:00 pm

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Hey, it's wonderful to see you today. Thanks for being here. How about taking a Bible and let's open it together to Acts chapter 16, the book of Acts chapter 16. We're going to be coming there in just a minute.

But first I want to read you a true story. And I quote, At Christmas one year, a guest at the hotel wanted to make a good impression on his new father-in-law who was visiting from Slovakia. The father-in-law wanted to cook a traditional Slovak dinner for Christmas Eve. But to do so, he needed a kitchen. The hotel kitchen was overwhelmed amid the flurry of Christmas dining preparations, so the concierge took the guest, his wife, and the new father-in-law to her home. It was Christmas Eve and her day off, but she invited him to use her kitchen to cook cabbage soup and kielbasa.

Meanwhile, the hotel chef was cooking a fish for the family. That night, the entire meal was served in the comfort of the guest suite, which suddenly didn't seem so far away from Slovakia. Now, where did this happen?

Some of you might have an idea. This was a Four Seasons hotel, the Four Seasons Palm Beach, Florida. And the reason it might not surprise some of you is because of the motto of Four Seasons, which is, anything a guest wants, if it's not illegal or immoral, we can do it. Now, I had the privilege of staying at a Four Seasons once, and I got to tell you, these people take hospitality to a...well, they just take it to the next level.

I've never seen anything like it before in my life. And the reason I bring all of that up is because we're going to look at a guy in the Bible today for whom hospitality was definitely not one of his distinguishing features. However, we're going to watch how God radically changes this guy's life, and then we're going to bring all that forward into the 21st century and talk about how God wants to do that very same thing in your life and in my life. So here we go, a little bit of background. The apostle Paul's on his second missionary journey.

Remember that? He has gone through what we think of today as Turkey and has crossed over into northern Greece. Here's a map, and you can see he's gone northwest up to the city of Troas here in northwestern Turkey.

He's then sailed across the Aegean Sea to the northern Greek city of Philippi. And here in Philippi, Paul has been preaching. He's been leading people to Christ, hundreds of them. And one of the people he led to Christ was a young servant girl who was demonized, demon possessed, and the demon that was in her enabled her to predict the future.

So her owners made a lot of money on this gal. Well, of course, when Paul healed her, she couldn't tell the future anymore, so there went their source of income. And furious with Paul, they dragged him down into city square, and they convinced the city officials to beat him and to beat Silas, his assistant, and then to throw him in jail.

Now that's where we pick up the story here in Acts chapter 16 verse 23. And after they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. And upon receiving such orders, the jailer put them in the inner cell, maximum security, and the jailer fastened their feet in the stocks. Now the jailer, when Paul and Silas were delivered to him, put them in a sitting position with their backs up against the rough, jagged stone wall. Remember we said in messages past that the rods that were used to beat Paul and Silas were specifically designed with claws on them to rip the skin and rip the flesh right off the bone. And so their backs were in pretty bad shape by the time they got to the jailer.

He could care less. Put them right up these raw, untreated backs up against a cold stone wall. He chained their hands above their head, and then he stretched their feet as wide as they could go and put them in stocks like you see in Williamsburg. The idea of this position was to cause their feet, the muscles in their legs to cramp without giving them any way to move and change position to relieve it.

This position was designed to cause maximum discomfort. And about midnight, verse 25, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there was a violent earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And at once, the prison doors flew open and everybody's chains came loose. The 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. There is no doubt that this jailer was a retired Roman soldier, and as such he knew full well what the penalty was for losing your prisoner as a Roman soldier.

If you don't believe me, you can check out the Code of Justinian, but the penalty is death. So he knew they were going to kill him, so he thought, well, why make them go to the trouble? I'll just draw my sword and take care of it myself. Well, Paul shouted out, do not harm yourself, we're all here. And the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and said, sirs, what must I do to be saved? What must I do to get eternal life? What do I have to do to get a relationship with God like you guys have? And Paul replied, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Paul said to this guy, hey, friends, you don't have to do anything to get eternal life. You don't have to do anything to get connected with God the way we are. All you really need to do is trust what Jesus Christ has already done for you on the cross. He shed his blood to pay for your wrongdoing before God. And all God asked for you to do is to embrace that, to trust and rely on that, to put your entire weight on Jesus's work on the cross for you as the only payment for your wrongdoing that God accepts or that God needs.

All you've got to do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you can have eternal life and a relationship with God just like we do. Now, you know, it's interesting to me that this jailer made the same mistake that so many people in our world today make. His mistake was he thought that the way you get a relationship with God and the way you get eternal life in heaven is to do something, to do some good works, to do some human activity, to do some religious work of some kind, and that eventually you'll get over the goal line and God will say to you, okay, here's eternal life, now I'll let you into heaven.

But you know what? That's not at all what the Bible teaches and that's not at all what the apostle Paul told this jailer. He said, no, my friend, you got it all wrong. How do you get eternal life? How do you get a spot in heaven? How do you come into a personal connectedness with Jesus Christ? What did Paul say? He said, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's all you got to do and all these things God will give you as a gift.

Now, if you're here today and you've got the same mistake in your mind that the jailer had in his mind, we want to correct that mistake today. We want to make sure you understand that coming into a relationship with Christ and getting eternal life has nothing to do with your religious activity. It has nothing to do with your good works or your human effort.

It has everything to do with your willingness to embrace what Jesus did for you on the cross and simply trust him and his blood shed on the cross to be your payment for sin. You say, Lon, that's too easy. Friend, why would God want to make it hard? He wants it easy enough a child can do it. And that's our problem is it's so simple for some of us. It makes it hard because we want to do something. God says you can't do anything. Jesus did it for you.

Just trust him. I hope if you're here today and you've been making the mistake the jailer has that we've cleared that up. Now, what happened next?

Well, verse 32, it says, Then they, Paul and Silas, spoke the word of the Lord to him and all the others in his house, the jailer's house. You know what the jailer did? The jailer took him out of jail and took him home in the middle of the night and at that very same hour of the night. And by the way, what time was it? Well, what time did the earthquake happen? Midnight. So what time is this?

I don't know, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., somewhere like that. At that same hour, the Bible says, the jailer took them and washed their wounds. And then immediately he and all of his family were baptized at 3 a.m. And the jailer brought them back into his house and now set a meal before them. And he was filled with joy because he had become to believe in God.

He and his whole family. Now that's where we want to stop today because it's time for us to ask the critical question of the morning. And I know we haven't done this for a couple months and I hope you guys haven't gotten out of practice. And some of you who are new with us, you don't even know the critical question, but we're going to teach you right now.

So ready? Here we go. Deep breath.

1, 2, 3. So what? Right. So what? You say, Lon, I'm so happy for that jailer. God bless him.

But what difference does that make to me? Well, let's see if we can help you make that connect. As many of us know, Johnny Uninus passed away this past week. Johnny Uninus, one of the greatest football players of all time, played for the Baltimore Colts.

I'm sorry. Colt does not belong behind Indianapolis. It belongs behind Baltimore. Thank you very much as one fan here. But anyway, Johnny Uninus was unbelievable. Led the Colts to three NFL championships, including Super Bowl V. Went to ten Pro Bowls. Was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame the very first year of his eligibility, 1979. And when he retired in 1974, Johnny Uninus held 22 passing records in the NFL. Now he still, almost 30 years later, still holds one of those 22.

You know which one it is? Johnny Uninus passed for at least one touchdown in 47 consecutive NFL games. Nobody's ever even come close to breaking that record.

The closest anybody's ever gotten is 30, and that was Dan Marino. In fact, Earl Morrill, who played with Johnny Uninus, said in the paper, and I quote, No lead was safe if you were playing against Johnny, and no game was out of reach if you were on his team. Now why do I bring Johnny Uninus up? Well, because I was talking this week to one of our staff members, and he said to me, he said, You know, I used to go to the church in Baltimore that Johnny Uninus came to.

And I said, Really? I said, Did he come often? He said, Yeah, he was there all the time.

I saw him every week. And I thought, Wow, that's pretty cool. And then I asked the question that so often we ask about other people. I said, Well, tell me, do you think he was a real believer, or do you think he was just a churchgoer?

Now that's the million dollar question, really, isn't it, friends? Is a person a real believer? Are they just a churchgoer? And their issue is, How can we tell? How can we tell if a person has the real disease? How can we tell if a person really knows Jesus Christ in a personal way? How can we tell if a person is born again and really on their way to heaven?

How can we tell? Well, the Bible answers the question. Second Corinthians chapter five, verse 17 says this, If any person is in Christ, they become a new creature. Old things pass away, and new things come.

I love how the message translates this. It says, Those who become true Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for their old life is gone. And friends, what the Bible is telling us is that when a person does what the Apostle Paul told this jailer to do, when a person embraces Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, when a person relies on what Jesus did on the cross for them as the one and only payment to God for their wrongdoing, and when a person does this transaction sincerely, genuinely and authentically, the Bible tells us that something supernatural happens inside that person, that God the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence inside that person, and he begins to morph them into a completely different creature, a completely different being, a person who has different values and different morals, a person who has different desires and different goals, a person who uses new language, a person who has new behavior around members of the opposite sex, a person who has a new level of joy in their everyday experience, a person who has a new definition of success. The Holy Spirit comes in and changes a person into having a new level of conscience in their life, as well as a new attitude towards others and a new purpose in life.

Jesus spoke of this radical change in Matthew chapter 13 when he said, The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman mixed into a big old lump of dough and it leavened, it completely changed the character of that entire lump of dough. A few years ago, my in-laws for Christmas gave Brendan and me a bread maker. Now, you know, I was 45 years old and I had never seen bread made my whole life.

I said, what? Didn't your mother make bread? Didn't your mother cook muffins or didn't your mother make pastries or do anything like that? Not my mother. You know, Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers, Linda Richmond, Coffee Talk, I'm getting verklempt.

Talk among yourself. You know her? That was my mother. Let me tell you, my mother cooked the way Whoopi Goldberg did. You remember Whoopi Goldberg's recipe for chicken soup?

Step one, send the butler to the store for chicken. That was my mother. My mother didn't grocery shop. She didn't cook anything. She didn't wash dishes and she definitely did not bake bread.

My mother was the original Jewish American princess, if you understand what I'm saying. Well, I'm 45 years old. I've never seen bread made in my whole life. And so we got this bread maker and we start to make this bread and you get this big old wad of dough and then it says put the yeast in. So I'm thinking, do you put a cup or maybe a cup and a half in? Well, I don't know.

And Brenda says to me, what, are you crazy? No, you put just a pinch in. You put an itsy bitsy little bit in.

So I said, that'll work. I mean, it's so little. I mean, it's hardly anything. She said, watch. So we put this little tiny pinch in there and kaboom. Man, I'm telling you, it went off like an atomic reaction inside this bread. And that whole loaf changed from this itsy bitsy little bit of yeast.

I would not believe it. But, you know, that's exactly the way Jesus says it is when you come to Christ. Jesus said right here that when we come to Christ, God, the Holy Spirit, God's supernatural yeast comes to live inside of the lump of dough that we are. And he begins working on us from the inside out like an atomic reaction and begins changing completely everything and radically that we are.

This is the one way you can tell whether or not you got the real disease. And I want to go back now for a moment. Let's go back and look at the jailer and let's see if the jailer really showed this kind of new creature change. Let's see if he became a radically new person as a result of his commitment to Christ.

Well, what happened with him? Number one, the first thing that we can see where he became a new creature is that after believing in Jesus, this jailer demonstrated a spiritual excitement that he didn't have before. Verse 32, Paul spoke the word of the Lord to all the others in his household. As we saw, the jailer rushes home with Paul and Silas. He wakes up his wife. He wakes up his children.

He wakes up the neighbors, whoever's around. He calls them all into his living room and he says, OK, OK, OK, now you have got to hear this. Come on, Paul. Come on, Paul. Tell him what you told me. Come on, Paul.

Tell him. You will not believe what he's going to tell you. And then after that, he rushes out in the middle of the night to go get baptized.

Don't you think his wife said to him, honey, can't we wait till the morning? No, no, no. We're going to do this right now. You go get the torches. We are going down to the river. We're getting baptized.

I don't care if it is three o'clock in the morning. Now, is this in character for this guy? This guy's retired. I saw a T-shirt the other day that said, I'm retired and this is as dressed up as I get.

Well, I thought that's a great T-shirt because this guy had a cush retirement job. He was a cynical old Roman soldier who had reached retirement. And about the only thing he ever got excited about anymore was dinner. He was fast asleep at midnight.

He wasn't up with much vigilance doing his job. This guy hadn't been excited about anything in his life. And now he's so excited about what's happened. He wakes his whole family up, goes to get baptized. How do you explain a change like that in this guy?

I'll tell you how. He's become a new creature. Number two, after believing in Jesus, this jailer demonstrates a compassion that he didn't used to have. Verse 33, at that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds, Paul and Silas. Well, remember when Paul and Silas were delivered to him with their backs bleeding and torn open, frankly, he could have cared less. He put them right up against the stone wall and he didn't give a flying flip what their back looked like. Here's a guy who's killed who knows how many men up close and personal in brutal hand to hand combat.

Roman soldiers were not known for their compassion. And when Paul and Silas were delivered to him, they were just two more pieces of meat as far as he was concerned. And now all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, he takes water. He takes oil. He takes salve and he doesn't make his wife go do it and he doesn't ask his children to go do it. He goes out personally, gets on his hands and knees and washes and cleans their backs out. How do you explain this kind of compassion in a man like this all of a sudden?

I'll tell you how. He's become a new creature. Third, after believing, the jailer demonstrated a hospitality that he didn't have before. Verse 34 says, then the jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before him. He sent his wife into the kitchen at 3 a.m. to cook a meal.

That's dangerous to ask any woman to do in the middle of the night. And he did it. And how often do you think this jailer took people out of jail and brought them home and offered them a meal at his table? Can you say never? I mean, the Four Seasons, this guy wasn't. You understand what I'm saying? How do we explain this change in this man?

Well, friends, he's become a new creature. Finally, after believing, the jailer demonstrated a spiritual conviction that he had never had before. Remember, this jailer was a retired Roman soldier. It was mostly an honorary position being a jailer. There really wasn't a whole lot to it.

He just basically sat around and slept like he was doing at midnight. How did you get a job like this? Such a cush job. Well, I'll tell you how you got it. You get it by never bucking the tide, never going against the flow, never creating waves, and never giving your officers a hard way to go. You get it by being a good soldier who keeps your mouth shut.

And if you have an opinion, you never share it with anybody. That's how you get a job like this. And now, all of a sudden, this jailer decides to go public for Jesus Christ at 3 o'clock in the morning. All of a sudden, this guy decides to go out, walk through the town with torches. Don't you think people woke up and said, where is he going?

I'm sure they did. Oh, he's going to get baptized. Oh, okay, whatever. He allies himself with the apostle Paul, keeps the apostle Paul in his house, and the apostle Paul is somebody that every one of his bosses is mad at. That's why they threw him in jail. Now, he puts his retirement job at risk by doing this. He puts his income at risk. He puts his family at risk. He puts his standing in the community at risk. He puts his old friendships at risk. This is out of character for this guy. This guy never had a conviction in his life that he was willing to go public about. Why all of a sudden is he willing to go public about Jesus?

Because he's a new creature. You know, this same change happened to a fellow named John Newton. You say, John Newton, who is he? Is he the guy that invented Fig Newtons?

No, wrong guy. This is a guy who lived in the 1700s, and he was a slave trader, a captain of a ship. He went to Africa. He kidnapped men and women from Africa.

He sailed them across the sea under his ship, losing 50% of his human cargo sometimes, and sold them as merchandise. He was a drunkard. He was profane. He was godless. He was a wretch. And then one day, John Newton was walking down the streets of Liverpool, England, and he heard some commotion, and he went over to see what it was, and it was George Whitefield, the leader of the Great Awakening in America, preaching in the open air. And he listened, and he decided that what George Whitefield was saying was right. And he gave his life to Christ, standing right there on the streets of Liverpool, and he became a new creature.

He stopped being a sea captain, and he stopped being a slave trader. He turned into a pastor and a hymn writer, and you all know one of the great hymns that he wrote. It goes like this. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but then I believed in Jesus, and God shoved the yeast of the Holy Spirit in my life and leavened my brains out.

Now, that's not exactly how the song goes, but that's the idea. That's the point of the song, that God so radically transformed this guy's life that he's not even the same person anymore. Now, friends, in the little bit of time I have left, I'd like to go from preaching to meddling, if you don't mind. 2 Corinthians chapter 13 says this. It says, examine yourselves and see whether you are truly in the faith. Test yourselves. And you say, well, Lon, if I wanted to give myself a test to see if I was truly in the faith, what test would I give myself? Would I give myself to go to church test? No. Would I give myself to sing in the choir test? No. Would I give myself to put money in the offering plate test? No. Would I give myself to teach Sunday school test?

No. The test you've got to give yourself, friend, is the new creature test. Have I become a new creature as a result of my faith in Jesus Christ? Are my attitudes radically different? Are my values radically different?

Is my language radically different? Are my desires and my goals radically different? Is my level of conscience radically different? Am I a different person because of my faith in Jesus Christ? And is this a supernatural thing that flows from the inside out in my life?

Is it something that I can't even control? You say, Lon, are you saying that a new creature never does anything wrong, that a new creature never messes up and disobeys God? No. I'm not saying that. But I am saying that if we are a new creature in Jesus Christ, there is a Holy Spirit given zeal in our life to want to please God, to want to obey God, to want to make God happy. And when we let God down and when we disobey God and when we fail, if we're a new creature, there is a sadness, there is a contrition, there is a sorrow that we feel that is so deep and so nagging that we will not go away till we repent and get things right with God. And this is not something you fake, friends. You either got it or you don't got it.

It's just either there or it isn't there. This is how I knew in 1971 that I really had become a new creature in Jesus Christ. I gave my life to Christ and within the first week there was no huge outside looking difference in my life. I didn't dress different and I was still smoking dope and I was still drinking. But I knew on the inside something had happened supernatural in my life.

And let me tell you how I knew. Because the stuff I could get away with a week ago and never feel one bit of guilt, one pang of conscience, one bit of sorrow about when I did those very same things the week after I trusted Christ, my conscience beat me black and blue. It would not turn me loose. And I knew I didn't do this because frankly in those days I didn't want my conscience to be around.

But it was. I knew I hadn't created this and the reason for that is because you'd been to seminary, friend. I hadn't been to seminary. Well, the reason that it was that way is because now you knew the Bible. I didn't know the Bible. Let me tell you what happened in my life. When I trusted Christ, the Holy Spirit moved into my life and he said, You're a new creature in Christ now and that stuff you used to get away with, son, you're not getting away with anymore.

Not in his body you don't anymore. And when I would try it, he would beat me black and blue and say, Oh, those days are gone, friend. You're not going to live like that anymore.

And I knew I wasn't doing this. That's how I knew people. My friends would come up to me and say, Jesus, you believe in Jesus? What are you crazy? He smoked one too many joint. What is wrong with you?

There's nothing. It is Jesus stuff. It's all just a bunch of money making hocus pocus.

Don't you know that? Well, friends, I don't care what they said to me. The one thing I knew is that inside of me, something had happened supernatural that had never happened before. And I didn't do it.

And so I said, you can tell me anything you want to tell me. But all I know is something happened inside of me. I can't explain any other way than I became a new creature in Jesus. Now, my question is, has that happened to you? Has that happened to you? Because, friends, if it hasn't, then I don't care how many church services you attend.

And I don't care how many Bible verses you can quote, you're not where you need to be in your relationship with Jesus Christ. They say, well, Lon, what if I fail this new creature test? Huh? What if I fail that?

Well, I got great news for you if you fail it. And that is that you can alter and change that situation anytime you want to. It's easy to change. And that's what Christianity 101 is all about.

Christianity 101 is six weeks of us trying to help you get your questions answered, work through any issues you got on the way to making a decision for Christ that is so real, so authentic and so genuine that you will become a new creature radically in Jesus Christ. You won't even recognize the person you used to be. I'm telling you, I look back now to the person I was in 1971.

It's not even the same human being. It's like I live two lives type thing here. That's not even me anymore.

It's so foreign and so strange I can't even relate to the person I used to be. That's what we want to see happen in your life. We want you to be able to look back and go, you know that person I was last year? That person is dead. That person is gone. That's not me anymore. I'm a new creature in Jesus Christ.

That's what we want to help you achieve. And wouldn't it be tragic if somebody sat in this church for weeks or months or years and missed heaven? But that'd be tragic. You know, there are people sitting in churches all over the world that that's going to happen to. I'm sad to say, because nobody's telling them that it's not about church and it's not about the rosary and it's not about Yom Kippur and it's not about coming to church and doing something for God. It has nothing to do with that.

It has to do with faith in Jesus the Messiah that turns you into a new creature. Well, we're telling you that here, and that's what we want to help you do. So if you're not sure, now be brutal with yourself. Be honest with yourself. Friends, the stakes are really high.

Don't dupe yourself and don't play games. Be really honest. Is this true of you? And if it isn't, then walk right out in the lobby the minute we're done and sign up for Christianity 101 and let us help you get here so that the next time somebody says to you, Hey, are you a new creature in Christ? Did you really radically change because you trusted Jesus?

You could look him right in the eyeball and say, Man, you wouldn't believe it. God blew me up like yeast blows up a lump of dough, man. I'm telling you, I'm not even the same person I was anymore.

And that can happen to you, too. We want to help you with that. If you're not sure you're there yet, go on out there and check out Christianity 101 and we'll help you.

Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thanks for reminding us today from the example of the Philippian jailer. The true measure of what it means to get the real disease. It's not the measure of going to church, and it's not the measure of singing in the choir, and it's not the measure of saying the rosary, and it's not the measure of putting money in the offering plate. It's not the measure of reading the Bible or praying. It's the measure of becoming a new creature, a whole new person because of the work of God in our hearts and lives. It's a supernatural thing. And my prayer, Father, is that you would help every one of us here to be really honest with ourselves. And if we're not totally sure that we can say we became new creatures, we can see it in every part of our life, then, Lord, I pray you would give everyone who isn't there the courage to go out and let us help them in Christianity 101. It's a little risky.

Sure it is. But, Lord, the stakes are worth it. Eternal life, heaven, a relationship with God. So give us the courage we need to take that little step of faith, Lord, that little risk, and grant that many people here today, six weeks from now, can say, Well, you know what? I couldn't have said it six weeks ago, but, brother, I can say it today. That's our goal, Lord, to help us achieve that as we work together with every person in this auditorium. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 12:58:38 / 2023-06-10 13:11:39 / 13

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