Summary: Exposition of Acts 16:16-24 about the slave girl in Philippi and the demon and being jailed.
Text: Acts 16: 16-24, Title: Real Ministry, Date/Place: NRBC, 9/28/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: You know, for pastors, ministry is a series of good news and bad news. Listen to these scenarios: Good news: You baptized seven people today in the river. Bad news: You lost two of them in the swift current. Good news: The Women’s ministry voted to send you a get-well card. Bad news: The vote passed 21-20. Good news: The Deacons accepted your job description the way you wrote it. Bad news: They were so inspired by it, they formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position. Good news: Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons. Bad news: Mrs. Jones is also wild about soap operas, the “Gong show” and the “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” Good news: The women’s softball team finally won a game. Bad news: They beat your men’s softball team. Good news: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks. Bad news: You were on vacation. Good news: Your deacons want to send you to Holy Land. Bad news: They are stalling until the next war.
B. Background to passage: After receiving the Macedonian call, the team arrives in Philippi and wins the God-fearing Lydia and the women to Christ. Beginning a church with Lydia and her household, they continue ministry. But must like their first trip, it was not without bumps in the road. But with the exceptions of false prophets, usually missionaries, church-planters, prophets and pastors are not going to make everyone happy. In the course of their ministry they will have choices whether or not to go the easy route of passivity and complacency and business as usual, or the difficult route of biblical urgency, exclusivity, and non-compromise. Real ministry chooses the latter.
C. Main thought: Real ministry has certain tendencies, some of which we see here...
A. Incites opposition (v. 17)
1. The second woman that is significant to the events of chapter sixteen is this slave girl. And as Paul and his team are ministering, she keeps on (imperfect tense) pestering them, speaking truth. Her endorsement would have been construed as being someone on their team. It would have confused the exclusivity of the gospel, and associated it with people or activities that may not have been good. If this girl was legitimately predicting the future, it is under the influence of the demonic. And this was a very profitable enterprise in this day and time. Most encounters with the demonic in scripture were initiated by the demon, which is the case here. And the whole reason for the rather confusing attack was the ministry of the apostles and the souls of men.
2. Matt 4:1-3, 17:14-15, 2 Cor 4:8-9, 6:4-5,
3. Illustration: Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: "Unless the divine power has raised you up... I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might." Anila met Perveen at school. As their friendship grew, Anila gave Perveen a Bible and taught her Christian songs. Perveen quickly learned Christian songs and began to teach them to her younger sister when her parents weren’t home. Church van tires, graffiti,
4. Satan may speak truth if it suits his purposes at the moment. But it will be out of context or detrimental to the gospel or the kingdom. Be aware that satanic forces are alive and well, and active in our world. But there is no need to be afraid of them. We must prepare ourselves, if we are to be a church that is actively engaged in the kingdom agenda (planting churches, doing missions, rescuing the lost) we will be attacked. And we should be worried if there are no attacks from satanic sources. In your individual lives you may face opposition because of your commitment not to participate in office gossip, inappropriate jokes or extracurricular activities. You may incite opposition because of your bible on your desk or in your backpack. It may be overt, or it could be subtle. It could be simply inspired by demonic activity, or it could be demonic work directly. But be encouraged, God is with you, and you have the victory. Don’t give up! Deepen your trust in Christ; deepen your knowledge of Him. Put on the armor of God and storm the gates of Hell, fully expecting them to come at you. You should be known/feared in hell.