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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Acts 16:1318, 2534 comment (0)

January 22, 2009

By James C. Pounds Jr.

Related Scripture: Acts 16:1318, 2534


Bible Studies for Life
Director of the Extension Division, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Receive New Life
Acts 16:13–18, 25–34

Our world is filled with people constantly searching for fulfillment. Knowing there is something lacking in their lives, they seek satisfaction in all sorts of places: weight loss, exercise, education, power, money, relationships and substances, to name a few. But what they continually find is what the world promotes as a new and better kind of life only leads back to the same empty existence that they’re trying to overcome. 

From Searching to Sharing (13–15)
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Silas traveled to Philippi to share the gospel message with the citizens of that community. During that visit, they met Lydia, a committed worshiper of God but not yet a follower of Jesus Christ. Once confronted with the reality that Christ was God’s promised Savior for all mankind, her life was changed forever. Lydia became a baptized believer and opened her home to these servants of the Lord.

From Spiritual Bondage to Spiritual Freedom (16–18)
As they continued in their work, Paul and Silas met a demon-possessed slave girl whose owners had forced her to serve as a fortuneteller. And yet as she followed these missionaries around, she actually validated the message they were proclaiming. Paul, empowered by Christ, then cast the spirit out of her. Her owners were so angered by this action they appealed to the authorities, who placed Paul and Silas under arrest.

From Destructive Fear to Joyful Faith (25–34)
While Paul and Silas were imprisoned, God sent an earthquake that opened cells and shackles throughout the prison. Believing all of the captives had escaped, the jailer decided to take his own life. But Paul stopped him and told him that no one had left. Once he confirmed this, the guard asked Paul and Silas how he and his family might be saved. They replied they only needed to believe in Jesus, which they all did and were baptized.

We see three different snapshots in one chapter, but all point to the same theme: God transforms lives.

Lydia’s story reminds us just because people attend and are active in church, we shouldn’t automatically assume they are believers. There are many who are trying to find what they are missing by being good, faithful “church people.” And yet they are unfulfilled because their faith is placed in actions and a location instead of the Savior.
Once Lydia heard the gospel, she found what she had been searching for. We need to be sharing the “good news” of Jesus Christ with everyone, including those with whom we worship.

And while we may never encounter someone like the demon-possessed slave girl, the message to us should be absolutely clear — the gospel can transform anyone, even one who appears to be as far away from or as disinterested in Jesus as this one. Our calling is to share God’s saving message with and pray for those who might appear to be the most hostile toward Christ.

And certainly God’s rescue of Paul and Silas was powerful, but the deliverance of the jailer offers an even greater message. At one moment, he was at the lowest point in his life, even considering suicide, and then, upon hearing the saving message of Christ, he was lifted to heights he could have never imagined. Jesus brings joy and peace to the most discouraged and defeated among us. They are just waiting for someone to introduce them to the Deliverer.

Jesus is God’s life-giving gift to the entire world. He came to bring new life to all who would come to and believe in Him. And “all” means no one is out of the reach of the Savior. This passage reminds us God transforms lives every day, even those we would deem to be “lost causes,” avoid and detest. Don’t forget Paul pointed out we were no different than them before we heard the gospel. And God expects us to demonstrate what that transforming power looks like. Paul and Silas were bold in talking and singing about what God had done in their lives. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?

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