Summary: Just as God prevails despite opposition, so does the Gospel.
[note: this title is not original -- have seen several sermons on this text with this title]
1. Late one night, a burglar broke into a house he thought was empty. He tiptoed
through the living room but suddenly he froze in his tracks when he heard a loud raspy voice say, "Jesus is watching you!"
Silence returned to the house, so the burglar crept forward again. "Jesus is watching you," the voice boomed again.
The burglar stopped dead again. He was frightened. Frantically, he looked all round. In a dark corner, he spotted a bird cage and in the cage was a parrot. He asked the parrot: "Was that you who said Jesus is watching me?"
"Yes," said the parrot.
The burglar breathed a sigh of relief and asked the parrot: "What's your name?"
"Clarence," said the bird.
"That's a dumb name for a parrot," sneered the burglar. "What idiot named you Clarence?"
The parrot said, "The same idiot who named the Rottweiller Jesus." [jokes.skem9.co.uk]
2. Criminals often end up in jail, but, in ancient times, many people who committed no real crime ended up in jail. Thousands are in jail because they have dared to share their Christian faith. The worst offender is North Korea: “ Ryan Morgan, an analyst with International Christian Concern Asia [states], ‘The regime still has up to 70,000 Christians locked away in virtual concentration camps.’"
Main Idea: Just as God prevails despite opposition, so does the Gospel.
I. The Gospel Typically Faces OPPOSITION.
A. From the DEVIL (16-18)
I have long maintained that you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of people who do not like that person. If balanced, reasonable people don’t like someone, that is significant. But if unbalanced, extreme, or negative people dislike someone, that can translated into a positive endorsement.
But when the devil publicizes someone who is about to preach the Gospel, that has a negative effect. The message, people reason, must be evil if endorsed by Satan.
Although the devil often mounts direct opposition against the Gospel, he also effectively removes the transforming power of the Gospel by corrupting it — adding to or taking away from it. That was his attempt thwarted by Acts 15.
1. This woman used by Satan to disrupt & mock the ministry of Paul.
2. Being possessed by a demon made her masters money.
3. Most fortune tellers, spiritualists, etc. are fakes, but occasionally real in that they do have an evil spirit masquerading as the deceased, etc.
4. Note that Paul finds her an annoyance, not an object of compassion.
5. Paul exorcises the demon from her.
6. The silence in the text about her conversion is deafening.
7. Jesus told a story about a man who had a demon, cast out, later returns with seven more demons (void not filled with the Lord).
B. From the WORLD (Society) (19-24)
1. Business and the bottom LINE (19-21)
2. Group think and the MOB mentality (22-24)
• Mob action makes participants later marvel in unbelief that they engaged in such violence. Exodus 23:2, “You shall not fall in with the many to do evil…”
C. In many lands, from the GOVERNMENT (22-24).
Application: 2 Timothy 3:12 reads, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Choice: live godly and suffer for it, or compromise our convictions to avoid persecution. That suffering might be loss of income, job, prestige, group acceptance, etc.
II. The Gospel Spreads DESPITE Opposition (25-33).
A. Paul and Barnabas SANG and prayed to God from prison (25).
1. The other prisoners were taking note
2. Lost people watch us during our trials; we should exemplify a real, not superficial, difference. If we mature, we will be different.
3. They took Matthew 5:11-12 seriously: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
B. An earthquake made the jailhouse ROCK (26-28).
God can and does use supernatural phenomena for His purposes. This is generally rare, but is happening today. According to Faithwire.com,
“An Iranian Christian pastor is claiming there’s a stunning revival underway in his country, where he says the number of Christian adherents has increased from 100,000 in 1994 to 3 million today…..Among the theories surrounding what’s driving this apparent growth is the claim that Jesus has been appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions, helping lead them to the Christian faith.”
• This shouldn’t be confused with people asking for a sign. God is the Master in these instances, not the people. Paul was not asking for a sign, either.