Summary: This sermon reminds believers that God uses obedience to guidance, faithfulness in clear evangelism, and praise in suffering to spread the Gospel.
People have utilized many ways of spreading news. In the past, the Pony Express and the telegraph were means people used to share information. Today, people use a plethora of methods to broadcast and receive news, such as television, radio, text-messages, cell phones, e-mail, and the Internet.
God can do anything He wants and could have chosen to write His good news, the Gospel, in the clouds. He could have personally manifested Himself in a visible and audible form to every human being to communicate the message. But God has chosen to spread His good news by other means. In Acts 16, we see three of those means.
1. Obedience to Guidance (v. 6-13)
In Acts 16, we find Paul on his second missionary journey. Like the writer of "Amazing Grace," John Newton, Paul was now preaching the faith he had once labored to destroy because of the change God had made in his life. Along with Paul were Timothy, Silas, and Luke (the author, whose pronouns change to "we" and "us" in verse 10 to indicate his presence with the group).
The missionaries thought they should go to Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), but the Holy Spirit did not allow them. They were directed instead to Macedonia by a vision Paul received. They immediately obeyed the vision, believing that God had called them to preach the Gospel there. God used obedience to guidance to spread His good news.
In what areas do you need to obey God? If you know what you should do, then the response should be immediate obedience. Is there someone you know you should share the Gospel with? God may use your obedience to guidance to spread His good news.
2. Faithfulness in Clear Evangelism (v. 14-15, 30-32)
Arriving in Philippi, a strategic and historic city, Paul speaks God’s Word to a group of women gathered for prayer. This implies that there were not enough Jewish men in the area to have a synagogue, since Paul’s usual practice was to go first to the synagogue and preach Christ. He went to people who needed the Gospel. God opened Lydia’s heart and she believed the word Paul spoke. Paul also shared verbally with the Philippian jailer, telling him not only to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved but later speaking the Word to the jailer and his family, likely explaining matters more fully. God used Paul’s faithfulness in clear evangelism to spread his good news.
No one likes a garbled, confusing message. Therefore, we ought to be clear when we share the Gospel with people. We know from other parts of the book of Acts that Paul made the matters of the Gospel clear to others so they would know what they should believe and why. The Gospel is more than "Jesus loves you" or "ask Jesus into your heart." We ought to tell people about the greatness of God and His right as our Creator to tell us what to do. We need to explain sin as rebellion against God, and that we are all sinners who deserve to be punished forever for despising God. We need to tell them who Christ is (the God-man, the Son of God in human flesh) and what He did in His perfect life and substitutionary death for sinners. We must tell them of his ascension and that He will one day judge the world in righteousness. We must not merely leave them with these facts, but must call upon them to repent of their sin and trust in Christ alone for their salvation so that they may have eternal life and enjoy God forever.
Even as God opened Lydia’s heart to respond, He does the same with people today. We are not responsible for the response to the message. We are responsible to deliver the message faithfully. God uses faithfulness in clear evangelism to spread His good news.
3. Praise in Suffering (v. 16-34)
Although Paul would not have adopted the motto, "Preach the Gospel if necessary, use words," he understood that his life should reflect the saving message he proclaimed. He wanted His walk to support, not hinder, the spread of the words of life.
A demon-possessed girl annoyed Paul by following the missionaries and announcing, day after day, that they were servants of the most high God who were proclaiming the way of salvation. Paul cast the demon out, much to the chagrin of her masters, who owned her as a slave and had profited from her fortune-telling business. Paul and Silas were falsely accused of instigating chaos in the city, and were then stripped and beaten. They were cast into the inner prison of the jail, and their feet were fastened in stocks which spread the legs apart and created much cramping.