Bible Ballistics: Vol. 10 No.1 You Could Go To Jail For That?
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit,
I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together
and the magistrates rent off their clothes,
and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes
they cast them into prison,
charging the jailor
to keep them safely:
24 Who, having received such a charge,
thrust them into the inner prison,
and made their feet fast in the stocks.” Acts 16:16-24
This is a lengthy passage yet I wanted us to see that the preaching of the Gospel has never been popular. It wasn’t popular when it was proclaimed by our Lord Jesus; it wasn’t popular when Peter and James proclaimed the ‘name of Jesus’ to the people of their day; nor was it always received well when Paul took this same Gospel to the world of the Gentiles. And contrary to popular notions today, when we stand fast in the truth of God’s Word– the truth about sin, death and hell– the truth of the exclusiveness of The Gospel, as Jesus Himself proclaimed: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Paul and Silas had delivered a young woman from the demonic bondage who followed them around—how interesting to see that while the ‘demons’ acknowledged who Jesus was/is/and ever shall be, men are still denying the power of His name! Yet many today that claim His name are guilty of watering down the truth of The Gospel to accommodate the ‘political correctness’ of our day. As I heard someone say recently, “We worry about offending every one but God!” What a concise and true observation of our times, and those who stand for biblical faith/truth, are certainly among those who ‘no one’ is worried about offending. We must recognize that standing up for Biblical truth is becoming a dangerous thing to do.
Paul and Silas give us an example of how to “stand fast in the evil day” (See Ephesians 6:10-18), and we can take heart in the fact that the same God who cared for them, still cares for and provides for His own—in good times and bad!
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed,
and sang praises unto God:
and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake,
so that the foundations
of the prison were shaken:
and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” Acts 16:25-26
These men of God were heard singing “praises unto God” in the midst of their incarceration—we pout when the a/c goes out. These men knew whom they served and were willing to accept the difficulty that came from sharing the One whom they loved and served as opportunity presented itself. Are we willing to pay the ‘price’ regardless of the ‘cost’? We are living in a time when the ‘price’ for serving Jesus is rising disproportionately; are we willing to pay that ‘price’, even if it means ridicule, avoidance, our popularity and friends, or even our employment situation? While there is a cost for being ‘set apart’ unto God, there is also great opportunity and reward. Paul and Silas saw God bless their labor of love and devotion to their call to “preach” the Gospel.
“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open,
he drew out his sword,
and would have killed himself,
supposing that the prisoners
had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying,
Do thyself no harm:
for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light,
and sprang in,
and came trembling,
and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said,
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said,
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved,
and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him
the word of the Lord,
and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes;
and was baptized,
he and all his,
straightway.” Acts 16:27-33
Paul and Silas had the opportunity to see their jailor saved along with his whole household!! The captor became the ‘captive’ of Jesus Christ our Lord—all because Paul and Silas were unashamed to do God’s work and pay the price for doing so—even when that price was imprisonment. What price are we willing to pay? What Gospel are we sharing? The truth or a watered-down version that falls short of that which saves and delivers men from their sin. I desire to stand fast like Paul and cling to the cross, with all it’s wretched ugliness—the ugliness of sin– yet the lovely deliverance t the blood of Jesus gives to those who believe!
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Even as Paul said to the Corinthians, will we cling to the Cross alone—which alone can save? The cross and the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, who shed HIS blood that we might have eternal life, escaping the penalty for sin!
“And I, brethren,
when I came to you,
with excellency of speech
or of wisdom,
declaring unto you the testimony
2 For I determined not to know any thing
save Jesus Christ,
and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness,
and in fear,
and in much trembling.
4 And my speech
and my preaching
was not with enticing words
of man’s wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit
and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand
in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
It is only the power of God through the Gospel that changes and transforms lives—that creates, births ‘sons of God’!
“But as many as received him,
to them gave he power
to become the sons of God,
even to them
that believe on his name:
13 Which were born,
not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but
of God.” John 1:12-13
God makes us His children by the power of His Holy Spirit, through faith in the blood of Jesus! The One who came to purchase our salvation at Calvary. What price would we refuse to pay for the eternal life that Jesus has given to us? It may mean a price that we haven’t considered. Yet scripture is replete with examples of those who were imprisoned for their faith, for doing right before God, yet disregarded by men, for standing “in the evil day”! Are we willing to follow Him? Are we truly ready to sing the old hymn, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go”? Let’s consider some who did.
“Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.” Hebrews 13:23
“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated,
ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
whilst ye were made a gazingstock
both by reproaches and afflictions;
and partly, whilst ye became companions
of them that were so used.
34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds,
and took joyfully the spoiling
of your goods,
knowing in yourselves
that ye have in heaven
and an enduring substance.
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence,
which hath great recompence
of reward.” Hebrews 10:32-35
It doesn’t matter what our trials are here in this life, when we consider the “recompence of reward” that God has for us.
“But as it is written,
Eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared
for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
What God has for those who love and serve Him, is beyond description or imagining. Will we trust and follow Him, or will we choose to go our own way? It’s a choice that we make every day, and just as Joshua called Israel to consider many years ago– the choice hasn’t changed!
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD,
choose you this day whom ye will serve;
whether the gods
which your fathers served
that were on the other side of the flood,
or the gods of the Amorites,
in whose land ye dwell:
but as for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
And when we choose to “serve The LORD”, we need to understand that we will often stand alone; like Daniel and his 3 friends; or like Joseph when he was in Egypt, or Jesus as He walked up that hill to pay for our sin—but God is always our help in time of need.
“Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help
in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:
for he hath said,
I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee.
6 So that we may boldly say,
The Lord is my helper,
and I will not fear
what man shall do
unto me.” Hebrews 13:5-6
I praise God that I have learned, and am still learning, that when I walk with God, I am never alone—Never Alone!!! But we will face opposition—the world will not like our message any more than they liked and believed our Lord and Savior when He was here on earth. He told us ahead of time:
“If the world hate you,
ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world,
the world would love his own:
but because ye are not of the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord.
If they have persecuted me,
they will also persecute you;
if they have kept my saying,
they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you
for my name’s sake,
because they know not him
that sent me.” John 15:18-21
Jesus warned us to expect to be treated just like they treated him, when we love and follow Him. Persecution is to be the expected response to the truth that we proclaim, and while we have not always experienced it to the degree that others have, but we are seeing an increase in persecution toward those who follow Him. We must decide which side we are on, knowing that it may cost us suffering.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
We must be prepared for the “evil day” that Paul talked about in Ephesians 6—it’s here.
“This know also,
that in the last days perilous times
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
disobedient to parents,
3 Without natural affection,
despisers of those that are good,
lovers of pleasures
more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof:
from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
How sad that while we see these things around us on every hand, God’s people are often joining the enemy instead of turning away from the worldliness! How sad to my heart!
“Preach the word;
be instant in season,
out of season;
with all longsuffering
3 For the time will come
when they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts
shall they heap to themselves teachers,
having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears
from the truth,
and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:2-4
My friends we must decide if we will:
“Preach the word
out of season”!
We must decide if we will faithfully:
with all longsuffering
Or in essence we choose to “be turned unto fables”. Even as Jesus said, there is only One Way to avoid condemnation.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19