Summary: A sermon shared with prisoners of the England AR Jail. The pain and suffering of Paul and Silas were used to reach the prisoners and Jailer. If they had not be thrown into the Jail the prisoners and Jailer would not have heard the Gospel.
Intro: In 1993, Charles Colson received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. The $1 million prize is the largest prize for achievement in any field. It is ranked higher than the Nobel prizes in such fields as science and literature, in the belief that religion is more important. Colson, having served seven months in prison for obstructing justice in the Watergate cover-up, was known as the scandal's "hatchet man." His conversion later led to the founding of Prison Fellowship in 1976. In response to this award, Colson said, "Out of tragedy and adversity come great blessings. I shudder to think of what I would have been if I had not gone to prison." Adversity can be God's refining fire.
All too we ask why do bad things happen to good people. This is because we don’t realize that deep down there are really no good people. Jeremiah 17:9 makes this clear, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable--who can understand it?”
It appears her in Acts 16 that something bad is happening to otherwise good people. With Chuck Colson he was not good people. He was sent to prison as part of the Watergate 7 because of obstruction of justice. Some of you may be able to relate to him. You are here because of decisions you made that were against the law.
Paul and Silas however were in prison from a worldly point of view because they hurt someone’s ability to make a living. But we must look at Paul, Silas, Chuck and your situation from a different viewpoint. When we see only the physical reason you are here we often miss the opportunity for a meeting with Jesus.
I. Paul and Silas were there for the prisoners (Acts 16:25)
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
These men were cast into the prison. The word "cast" means "to throw something without regard to where or how it lands." From a Human standpoint they didn’t matter from God’s standpoint they were the ones to reveal the true heart of the matter.
Paul and Silas were letting their lights shine before the prisoners. They were not there simply to be in jail, they were there to share the reality of Jesus! Guys you are not here simply to be locked up. Our presence with you over these past months and today is another confirmation of God’s call to you.
Turn to Acts 2:37-40 We are saying the same thing to you that Peter said in his sermon on Pentecost
Listen: Hear what God is saying to you about yourself, sin, forgiveness and salvation. Understand that He has orchestrated every bit of what is happening today!
This means they listened attentively.
Repent: This means turn and go the other way. You are at a crossroads. One road lead to death and another to life. Repentance is turning away from control of your life and turning toward God.
Be saved. Story of Barnabas and Jesus from Luke 23. What do you need to be saved from? Sin. Rebellion against God.
II. Paul and Silas were there for the Jailer
They weren’t only there for the prisoners Paul and Silas were sent by God for the Jailer and his family. Do you see how God works? Paul and Silas were caused to suffer because that was the only way they could get access to the prisoners and jailer. Guys we don’t have to suffer but we do have to sacrifice to come here. We give up time with our families and at home because God called us to come and speak into your lives.
The Jailer probably had no idea he was going to have an encounter with God. He was used to the normal every day goings on of dealing with prisoners. Sometimes God has to shake things up in our lives so he can get our attention. It was with the shaking of the jails and removing of the prisoners chains that he opened the heart of the jailer.
Pharaoh had acted as though he responded to God. But when fear of financial and national loss overwhelmed him he hardened His heart and rejected Gods clear invitation. Herod Agrippa was almost persuaded as Paul preached the Gospel to him. Herod did not believe because if he did he would have to give up his ungodly alliances and his unholy appetites.
God will send someone to share His grace with you from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus but You must respond. He will begin opening your heart but you must repent and turn toward Him. It isn’t enough to say words or listen to sermons you must receive Jesus to become truly free!!
The Jailer wasn’t in chains but he wasn’t free. It took prisoners praising Jesus and praying to reveal his need for forgiveness of Sin and belief on Jesus Christ.