Summary: How can we defeat the darkness? 1. Put a priority on prayer (vs. 1-5). 2. Rely on our Redeemer (vs. 6-16). 3. Strive to stick together (vs. 12-16). 4. Live in loyalty to the Lord (vs. 17).
How We Can Defeat the Darkness
Acts 12:1-17 (Reading vs. 1-5)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church
April 6, 2014 (Revised Sept. 18, 2016)
*Anybody paying any attention at all knows we are living in a time of growing darkness. A five-minute glance at the headlines is enough to prove that this is true.
*Yesterday, a pipe bomb explosion in New Jersey shut down the 5k "Semper Fi" charity race. Thank God, no one was injured, because the start of the race had been delayed by late sign-ins. Then, last night, a dumpster bomb went off in New York City, injuring 29 people.
*We are living in a time of growing darkness. It's evident in the corruption that has infected the highest levels of our government. And it's evident in the widespread promotion of evil in the entertainment world.
*The spiritual darkness also attacks us in our families, and in our own hearts. That's why Ephesians 6:12 tells Christians: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world. . ."
*We live in a time of growing spiritual darkness, but the good news is that we can do something about it! God's Word shows us what to do in this remarkable story about the early church.
1. First: We have to put a priority on prayer.
*We have to put a greater priority on prayer. That's what the early church did when this terrible crisis arose in vs. 1-5:
1. Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
2. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
4. So when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
5. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
*The church offered constant prayer to God for Peter. The early church was a praying church. When danger came, they prayed. When dissention came, they prayed. When they were desperate, they prayed. And when they didn't know what to do, they prayed. The early church was a praying church, and that's the kind of church God wants us to be: Calling on Him, our ever-present source of help.
*Rod Cooper made this point in a sermon he called, "God Is Just One Squeal Away." And Rod gave this testimony: "We raised pigs. -- We raised about a thousand pigs a year. In one field we had two or three hundred little oinkers running around. Every day, at four in the morning, as I'd walk into the field to feed those guys, they'd scatter.
*Once a little pig came up and began to chew on my foot, so I picked him up and began to pet him. Soon he wanted down. I said, 'No, I'll let you down when I'm ready.' At that moment, he let out a squeal such as I had never heard. In about two seconds, thirty mama pigs weighing five to six hundred pounds each were headed my way. I put him down, headed for the fence, and I barely made it over. All the mama pigs were walking back and forth, snorting, and daring me to come back over and bother one of their kids.
*I look back at that and realize that little rascal wasn't intimidated. He was out of control, but he wasn't intimidated. -- Why? Because he had resources one squeal away." And Church: So do we! (2)
2. We can defeat the darkness by putting a priority on prayer. But we also have to rely on our Redeemer.
*We must have faith in God. We must depend on His divine help. We must believe that our God is both able and willing to help us in any situation.
 And we can trust in His ability.
*Our God is always able! And we get a small taste of His ability in vs. 6-16:
6. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
7. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!'' And his chains fell off his hands.
8. Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals''; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me.''