Summary: A special message on baptism to accommodate an older handicapped woman who received a baptism by "pouring" .
BELIEF and BAPTISM
Today we are celebrating the sacrament of baptism. We commemorate with an outward sign, with water, what God has accomplished inwardly by His Holy Spirit and His Word. We are looking at the tremendous act of God in Acts 16. Here, Paul is arrested in Macedonia, along with Silas, after they had been used by God to heal a demon-possessed woman.
In Acts 16:22, we read: “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. (These were beatings with multiple rods held together, not just one, inflicting great bodily harm.) 23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (They were thrown into the darkest and dankest place; they were put in the hole and then fastened with multiple stocks with different sized holes that fit the thighs, knees and ankles. Then the legs were spread apart as far as they could go and the stocks were secured.)
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; (the same thing happened at Jesus death and resurrection) and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.”
28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!" 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, (out of the inner jail) he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (to be rescued from God’s wrath against sin and sinners.)
This is an amazing account in which Paul and Silas closely identify with the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ in their own suffering: They are arrested by the mob, their clothes torn off of them, beaten without mercy, thrown into the darkest part of the prison, almost a tomb, and fastened to “stocks” (the word used is actually the same Greek word for “cross” (xylon; ksu-lon) used in Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29: “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the CROSS and laid Him in a tomb.” Of course, when Jesus arose from His tomb, the angels asked those who sought Him: “Whom do you seek? He is not here but He is risen!” Paul and Silas had not disappeared from the tomb of that prison, but by God’s power they had been loosed from the bondage that had held them in stocks and in their tomb!
But this was not for Paul and Silas’ benefit, but for the sake of the Lord Jesus building His Kingdom and drawing others to Himself. It was for the sake of the Gospel: After the jailor is scared out of his sleep by the earthquake, and Paul stops him from taking his own life, the jailor falls down in fear and asks Paul what he must do to be saved: Paul and Silas instruct the jailor in verse 31: