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Suffering Well for Christ (Acts 16:19-40)

February 12, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon reflects on the steadfastness of God to save sinners. Pastor Duncanson explains why suffering is a means of grace for the Christian. The focus of this sermon is on how Paul and Silas suffer well in their imprisonment while Christ prepares the way to save the lost Philippian jailer.

Paul and Silas Suffer Well

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 when they had brought them to the magistrates, 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 them and gave 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 and fastened their feet in the stocks (Acts 16:19-24;ESV).

Pastor Duncanson begins with the question, “Does persecution in this world surprise you as a follower of Jesus Christ?” Perhaps. Paul and Silas had come to the city of Philippi ready to make Christ known with their lives or in their deaths. They understood, as follower of the Way, eventually the world would soon spurn the Gospel regardless of the fact that a slave girl was delivered from the fires of Hell (cf. John 15:20). However, Paul and Silas endured their hardship as good soldiers entrusting themselves in the wisdom of God to reveal His purposes in His timing (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Timothy 2:3-10).


Christ Saves the Philippian Jailer

About 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. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 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. Then he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And 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 wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God (Acts 16:16-18; ESV).”

Paul and Silas gave a faithful example for the Christian facing hardships. Christ does not only provide an example, He provides the means for salvation. First, He prepares the heart of the Philippian jailer through an earthquake, bringing him to the end of himself. Then, He sends His messengers to comfort this jailer with good news, namely, while they saved him from physical death, Jesus has the power to save him and his household from spiritual death. How quickly the circumstances changed for Paul and Silas, who as ambassadors for Christ, went into the prison to free a lost jailer and his household from the slavery of sin (cf. John 8)?

Why do things change so quickly?

The faith-filled life of the Christian in this sin-filled world will be one of tribulation (Matthew 10:16-25). The goal of the Christian life is for the Christian to become more like Jesus Christ through the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering and being conformed into His death (Philippians 3:10). The death of Christians often brings life to others as the death of Christ brings life to all who trust in Him (John 3:15-21; 2 Corinthians 4). With this in mind, Christ will judge those who have persecuted and oppressed His people unjustly in this world (Jude 5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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