Summary: God is setting people free from chains that we didn’t even know existed.
February 3, 2008
Text: Acts 12: 1-19
Subject: Breaking Free From Bondage
Title: Free at Last
There is a strange phenomenon that takes place when I am driving. And I would be willing to bet (if I bet) that I am not the only person that this happens to. When I am driving on a familiar stretch of road – like when I go down to my Mom’s every Monday – sometimes I forget where I am. It’s not like I’m lost or anything. I just can’t remember where I am. I think that what happens is that I get so caught up with my own thoughts or perhaps I’m listening to a preaching tape or some music, that I just don’t pay attention to where I am or where I have been. Then I will come out of my little trance or whatever you want to call it and I wonder to myself, “Where am I? Did I pass Frankford? Have I been through Bowling Green?” Then I will see something familiar that tells me where I am. It is almost like my time spent on the road becomes a spiritual experience.
It is a little like how children go to sleep in a car and when they wake up they are somewhere else.
Our Christianity is a little like that. We can be cruising along and everything seems fine and suddenly we wake up and we are somewhere different than we were when we last checked. Something that you saw or heard has brought you back to your senses.
That happened to me this week. Jack gave me a CD of my favorite Christian artist and there is one song that really got my attention and it quite literally woke me up from a spiritual sleep and when I awakened I was somewhere different than when I last checked.
The chorus to the song says, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace.”
At that point I understood some things about my Christian life that I had never seen before and now I am changed until the next time. I am being changed into His image from glory to glory.
I want to share with you the story of Peter’s imprisonment in Acts chapter 12 and show you the spiritual activity that was taking place that led Peter to a different place. I hope that you will allow the Word of God to take you to a different place today.
I. SPIRITUAL WARFARE/PHYSICAL BATTLEFIELD. (1-5) 1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. I believe that one of the most talked about topics in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles is spiritual warfare. We all know that there is a continuous spiritual battle being waged for souls and you are right in the middle of the battle. You don’t really have a choice. You can decide whether you want to be on the front line or back at camp but you are involved in the battle nonetheless. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. That is the ferocity of the battle you are in, and that is the type of battle the early church found itself in. If you look at what had happened in the church up to this point you’ll see that thousands of Jews were coming to Christ. Acts 2:41, Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 47, And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 4:4, But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. And besides that now Peter had taken the message to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. Do you see what was taking place here? God was working in a wonderful way through His people. But the enemy of your soul does not want the numbers to grow. He wants to keep you beat down and to make you think you are defeated. He will do everything in his power to keep you from being effective in your Christianity. He was using Herod to do that. He had already beheaded James the brother of John and was about to do the same to Peter. He knew that would please the “religious” leaders. In the process he thought it would keep this new sect of Judaism from spreading. So that is the kind of spiritual battle we are under today. There is the threat of persecution simply because you are a Christian. But Paul wrote in Romans 8, 15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” You don’t have to retreat from the battle because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.