Summary: Luke shares with us the importance of salvation - especially when it comes to our families. Salvation comes through 1. Hearing the Word of God 2. Believing the Word of God 3. Living out the Word of God
Scripture: Acts 16:16-34
Proposition: Household Salvation - 1. The Whole Household HEARD the Word of God. 2. The Whole Household BELIEVED the Word of God 3. The Whole Household LIVED OUT the Word of God
Good morning. What a joy it is to be with all of you.
This morning, our passage of scripture takes us to the heart of the Apostle Paul's journeys in Macedonia. Paul and Silas (along with Luke and at times Timothy) were going from town to town sharing the message of Jesus to everyone who would listen. Our particular passage has them evangelizing in the area of the city of Philippi. Philippi was considered one of the most important city in the district of Macedonia. At the time of Paul, there were over 12,000 people living in the area of Philippi. Philippi served as the retirement center for Roman soldiers after their active duty was served or who had suffered a career ending injury. Nearly 90 % of its citizens were either Roman or Greek and the common everyday language used in speaking and commerce was Greek instead of Latin.
The Apostle and his missionary team stepped into this bi- cultural area with the Gospel of Jesus and almost immediately found themselves in hot water. After beginning a new church through the help of Lydia, Paul finds his missionary team being harassed by a certain slave girl. She was known to possess the spirit of fortune-telling. That is to say, she appeared to have the gift of being able to tell people what was going to happen to them in the future. It also seems that she was highly accurate in her abilities. She had made her owners quite a bit of money being able to mesmerize people with her skills. In short, this little slave girl was a carnival act that was golden.
Luke shares with us that this young lady followed Paul's team around crying out as loud as she could:
“These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”
Day after day after day, she would go around following Paul, Silas and the rest of the team. Finally, the whole act got on Paul's nerves. He was tired of her antics and of her constant yelling. He wheeled around and in the name of Jesus Christ commanded the demon to go away. He commanded the demon to leave the young girl and never return. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with the power of the Holy Spirit and was immediately free. No longer was she in bondage to this demonic spirit.
However, without the demon, our writer tells us that she could no longer tell people their fortune. Or at least she could no longer deceive them into thinking that she could. Her owners became furious. Their golden goose was now gone. Their meal ticket had been punched so to speak. In revenge for what Paul had done, they started a riot. They had Paul and Silas arrested on some trumped up charges of causing civil unrest and committing blasphemy against the worship of Caesar and the Roman State. On those last charges these men were right - Paul and Silas would not worship Caesar or any of the other false gods.
The slave owners made their case and Paul and Silas were arrested and subsequently beaten with a set of wooden rods. What this involved was quite simple. Paul and Silas were tied up, hoisted into the air from a beam and then beaten with a set of rods all over their bodies with special attention given to their feet. The goal was to inflict as much damage over the entire body. Done correctly, the person or person's beaten would suffer massive damage to their backs, their kidneys and to their rib cages. Usually, a person was left with a few broken ribs, perhaps a concussion and could not properly walk for a few days or weeks. Done incorrectly and the damage done to the feet would result in broken bones and the person being crippled for life.
But this was not the end of Paul and Silas' troubles. After the beating, they were thrown into the inner part of the local dungeon. This is where all the raw sewage would be collected. It was a place where there would be little or no light and were prisoners would face even more punishment by being put into the stocks. These stocks were designed to pull your feet as far apart as possible making it difficult to get comfortable. Your only recourse was to lie down and usually that was in mud that had been laced with feces, urine and blood.
Got the picture. Our miracle story starts about midnight. For around midnight amazing things start to happen.