Summary: Exposition of Acts 16:25-40 regarding the Philippian Jail events
Text: Acts 16:25-40, Title: Shaking Philippi, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/5/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: One sunny Sunday morning, Henry Jones awoke to find his wife standing over him, shaking him by the shoulder. "You have to get up," she urged. "We have to get ready for church.” "I don’t want to go to church," he replied. "I want to stay in bed.” Crossing her arms over her chest, his wife demanded, "Give me three good reasons why you should stay in bed and not go to church." "OK," he answered. "First, I don’t get anything out of the service. Second, I don’t like the people there. And third, no one there likes me. Now can you give me three good reasons why I should go to church?" His wife responded, "First, it will do you some good. Second, there are people who really do like you, and they’ll miss you if you aren’t there. And third, you’re the minister!"
B. Background to passage: Paul and Silas (at least) have been thrown into prison after being beaten with rods for casting the demon out of a girl and causing a riot. I wonder how you write that one up. Anyway, their imprisonment sets off a chain of events that can only be described as providential. And this set of events really shook the town of Philippi
C. Main thought: In the text we will see three things that shook in Philippi
A. Shaking the Prison (v. 25-26)
1. Now we all know that the Apostle Paul was a strange man. And now we see him battered, bruised, bleeding, with his feet in stocks, in a dirty, rat-infested prison, and he is singing! In fact, he and Silas were praying and singing, and all the other prisoners are listening. It was a well known way to deal with troublesome situations in the ancient world. They were confident in God and renewing their minds and hearts to that confidence. And that confidence is in Christ regardless of circumstances, because sometimes he delivers and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He causes things to get better, and sometimes He causes them to get worse. All for His good and wise purposes.
2. Eph 5:18-19, Philip 4:4, 2 Cor 1:8-9, 4:16-17, 1 Peter 5:10,
3. Illustration: Jonathon Edwards believed that music had a special effect on the soul, A couple of days after the experience the reporter who first wrote about the event talked to Chippie’s owner. He asked how the bird was doing. She said, "Well Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore-he just sits and stares." It’s no wonder. One minute the little guy was swinging and singing, and before he knew it, he was sucked in, washed up and blown over. In the moving Facing the Giants, coach says we are going to praise Him if we win, and we are going to praise Him if we lose. C. S. Lewis describes the role of suffering in the life of the believer as “soul-making.” It is the shaping of the Christian with the hammer and chisel of adversity. Lewis also said “God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our consciences; but shouts in our pains.” Tertullian said, “The legs feel nothing of the stocks when the heart is in heaven.” "Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind."
4. We are instructed to rejoice in the Lord always, because God is good all the time. When you are in a tough spot in life, fix your mind and heart on Christian truth and upon the Treasure by singing or listening to songs about Him. For we know that God is using this suffering to accomplish great things in our lives, and showing us our need of Him and our need to trust in Him. And we know that when the suffering is over, God will strengthen and establish us. This is another reason that I believe that songs of faith should be our choice in daily listening, whatever genre you prefer. Singing and making melody to the Lord is a sign of being filled with the Spirit. And nothing refreshes the heart like a few moments or hours of Spirit empowered worship between you and God. And what a witness to the world of your faith when you rejoice in your suffering. Only believers can rejoice in suffering.
B. Shaking the Gates of Hell (v. 27-34)
1. After the earthquake shook the prison, Paul and Silas shook the gates of hell as another lost soul was plucked from eternal punishment. This jailer was about five seconds from splitting hell wide open and becoming another trophy of Satan, when Paul stopped him. He knew that regardless of the reason, guards who let prisoners go were executed. But when he heard what Paul said, which was amazing in itself that all the prisoners stayed, he immediately fell at their feet and asked how to be saved. The jailer knew that something supernatural was going on, and his heart was ready. Surely he had heard the songs of grace and faith, and been amazed at their attitude, countenance, confidence, and their eternal perspective. Luke gives us a summary of the message, then the jailer believes, exhibits evidence, and again wins his entire household to Christ. Then they are all baptized and join Lydia’s household as the church in Philippi. And note that the joy that Paul and Silas had was passed on to the jailer’s household.