THE PHILIPPIAN JAILOR

 
                             Reading: Acts 16:22-34
 

         INTRODUCTION

 
         [a] Did you ever meet anyone who was so full of joy  that  it
         was literally contagious?
         [b] This was the case many years ago when we met a blind  man
         called John Herbison.
         John used to be a drunkard, and in his  drunken  stupors  he
         had  had  fallen   on   to    bed   knobs   and   so   forth,
         eventually damaging his eyes so much he went blind.
         Now when we met John, he had found Jesus, and been gloriously
         saved! far from being miserable, he was one of  the  happiest
         people I have had the privilege of meeting.
         He had what could only be described as a holy  chuckle,  that
         made something inside you  respond,  and  feel  that  genuine
         happiness that shone from his life!
         [c] I am convinced that this was the case with Paul and Silas
         who, although they were in chains, although they   had   been
         whipped, and were bleeding, although they had  all  the  pain
         and discomfort which  it  must  have  caused,  were  SINGING
         PRAISES TO GOD - AT MIDNIGHT!!
         [d] If you know any people who profess to be Christians,  and
         they're miserable all the time - tell them THERE'S  SOMETHING
         WRONG WITH THEM!!
         JOY and REJOICING  is  mentioned  again  and  again   in  the
         Bible!! MISERY AND CHRISTIANITY ARE INCOMPATIBLE!!
         [e] One of the  early  Salvation  Army  writers, Commissioner
         Samuel  Logan  Brengle, says in his book "When the Holy Ghost
         is come", that you never  know  when  someone  who  is filled
         with  the  Holy spirit,  is  going  to  cry  out with Joy and
         happiness.
         [f] This is a safeguarded  joy,  which  Jesus  says  in  John
         16:22, that no man taketh it from us!
 
 
 
 
 

         POINT 1  CONFUSION

 
         [a] Confusion comes in many guises and affects all of  us  at
         some time.
         [b] I remember sitting in   a  collage  lecture and  noticing
         the young girl and boy in the row in front taking notes.
         But then I saw them exchange their notes. This  confused  me,
         and I became interested!
         I took a squint over their shoulders, and what met my gaze?
         "I LOVE YOU!" "I LOVE YOU  TOO!"  "WILL  YOU  MARRY  ME??"
         "YES! YES! YES!"
         I'm not sure if I learned anything in  that  lecture  -  the
         side show was too interesting!!
         [d] A teacher was trying to teach a class of seven year-olds
         about the Middle East. She noticed one little girl whose mind
         had obviously wandered. She  asked  her  what  she knew about
         Damascus. She  replied  with  a  confident  smile,  "It kills
         ninety-nine percent of all known germs." A little confusion?
         I think Damascus, and the well known bleach Domestos are just
         a little different.
         The War Cry on it's front page one week  quotes  the  United
         nations Secretary General (Javier) Perez de Cuellar  when  he
         stated about the unknown future, "GOD ONLY KNOWS"
         [e] In  our  Bible  reading,  we  see  a  man  with  his mind
         confused!
         The jailor thought all his prisoners had fled!
         He was about to take what he thought was the only appropriate
         course in the circumstances - SUICIDE!
         [f] Suddenly a voice rings out in the gloom of that dungeon -
         "Do thyself no harm, for we are all here!"
         [g] Now we are not actually told  why  they  were  all  still
         there! After all, in the great earthquake that took place, it
         says in verse 26, "...the doors were opened,  and  EVERYONE'S
         bands were loosed!"
         [h]  Perhaps  the  answer  lies   in   what   happened   just
         before, in verse 25, when we read, "And  at  midnight,  Paul
         and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: AND THE PRISONERS
         HEARD THEM!"
         [i] What would happen if there was an earthquake, and all the
         doors were flung open any of our prisons?? IT WOULD BE EMPTY!
         [j] I LIKE TO THINK THAT  THE  JOY  AND  FAITH  OF  PAUL  AND
         SILAS WAS SO  INFECTIOUS,  THAT  SOMETHING  HAPPENED  IN  THE
         HEARTS OF THOSE PRISONERS THAT MADE THEM STAY - THEY HAD FELT
         THE TOUCH OF GOD ON THEIR LIVES!
         [k] We live in a world of confusion, when everyone is asking,
         "Where can we find truth?"
         There is but one place we can look to  find  the  truth,  and
         that is to the Lord, Who states Himself in John  14:6  to  be
         "THE TRUTH", and to His holy Word, the Scripture, OF  WHICH
         WE ARE TOLD IN 2TIMOTHY 3:16, "ALL  SCRIPTURE  IS  GIVEN  BY
         INSPIRATION OF GOD."
 

         POINT 2     CONVICTION

 
         [a] Not only was he suffering  from  confusion,  but  he  was
         also experiencing conviction! We read that he came  TREMBLING
         before his prisoners
         [b] So often I have seen people TREMBLE under the  conviction
         of God's Holy Spirit. THEIR SINFUL STATE HAS BEEN REVEALED TO
         THEM, and they tremble in the presence of a Holy God Who sees
         and knows all things!
         [c] I remember a friend of ours,  who  was  under  such  deep
         conviction, that she jumped up and ran from the meeting!
         But of course, we cannot escape God, and  His  voice  in  our
         hearts! Jonah tried to escape from God, and ended up  in  the
         stomach of the great fish - it took all of that experience to
         make him realise that he could not run away from God!
         [d] If we cannot run away, then the only other response is to
         do what the jailor did, face up to it, and seek the Lord!
 

         POINT 3     CONCERN

 
         [a] His conviction led to CONCERN, and he did something about
         that concern IMMEDIATELY!!
         [b] He got strait  to  the  point  -  "What  must  I do to be
         saved?"
         [c] Some people are 'CONCERNED' for years,  without  actually
         doing anything about it!!
         THERE ARE 'CONCERNED' PEOPLE ON THEIR WAY TO HELL,  AND  WILL
         END UP THERE IF THEY DON'T DO  SOMETHING  CONSTRUCTIVE  ABOUT
         THAT CONCERN!!
         [d] God does not promise us tomorrow! He doesn't even promise
         us the rest of today!!
         AS FAR AS GOD  IS  CONCERNED,  HE  SAYS  VERY  CLEARLY  IN  2
         CORINTHIANS 6:2, "NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME;BEHOLD,  NOW  IS
         THE DAY OF SALVATION."
         [e] We lay such store in life, and yet it is  such  a  flimsy
         thing. In 2 Corinthians 5:1, Paul likens this life to a  tent
         in the desert in which the soul dwells, and can be taken down
         at any moment!
         [f] So is it not wise to be CONCERNED with the destiny of our
         eternal soul.
         We don't think much of someone who doesn't bother  with  life
         insurance, and yet there are such a vast number with NO  SOUL
         INSURANCE!!
         [g] In one of the parables Jesus told in  Luke  12:20,  there
         was someone like this, a very successful  farmer,   who  made
         great provision - for this life, but none for eternity!
         GOD SAID TO HIM, "THOU FOOL, THIS NIGHT THY SOUL  SHALL  BE
         REQUIRED OF THEE!"
 

         POINT 4     CONVERSION

 
         [a] Whenever we first came to  Scotland,  the  Army  in  it's
         wisdom sent us to the heart of  the  Kingdom  of  Fife  -  to
         BUCKHAVEN, where we couldn't even understand the language!
         Although of course, they do  speak  English, the accent is so
         strong, that it was incomprehensible to our untrained ear!
         [b] Now  you  must  understand,  that  coming  from  Ireland,
         we  really  didn't  know  anything  about  natural  gas,   as
         they don't have it over there.
         [c] When we came to Scotland,  it  was  at the time, when all
         the appliances had to  be  adapted  for  natural gas. We went
         into the quarters, there was  a  note   on  the cooker, which
         simply said "THIS COOKER HAS BEEN CONVERTED!"
         [d] I thought to myself, "What kind of a country is this, if
         they even convert the cookers??"
         [e] Thank God, the Jailors concern led him to CONVERSION!
         He inquires about the way  of  Salvation,  and  receives  the
         simple answer to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and  thou
         shalt be saved!"
         HE DID!!! AND HE WAS!!! HALLELUJAH!!!
         [f] They had been his prisoners, but now,  so  different   is
         he through his CONVERSION, he takes them home for supper!
         The family too learn about, and find Jesus.
         [g] Jesus says  in  Matthew's  Gospel  chapter  18  verse  3,
         "Except ye be converted and become as  little  children,  ye
         shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
         [h]   I   remember   hearing     on     the    local    radio
         station, of how an ex criminal was setting up a security firm
         to advise and help both companies and individuals in  how  to
         safe-guard their property.
         He further  said,  "I  have  been  converted  and  become  a
         Christian!"   Hallelujah!!
         [h] The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If any man
         be in Christ, he is a new creature (or creation): old  things
         are passed away; behold all things are become new!"
         [i]  Before  becoming  an  officer,  as  a  teenager,  I  was
         preaching at a campaign meeting   in   Belfast,  and  a  very
         drunk  man staggered  in  and  started  asking rather slurred
         questions, and making comments.
         Eventually they got him to sit quietly while  I  finished  my
         message. When I made the appeal, he made a decision to follow
         Christ.
         We knelt and prayed together, as  he  asked  Jesus  to   come
         into his life, forgive  his  sin,  and   make   him   a   new
         person!
         Shortly afterwards, he rose to his  feet,  completely  sober,
         and walked smartly out of the hall, proclaiming Wait until  I
         see my son and tell him. He's a minister!!
 

         CONCLUSION

 
         [a] To make our conversion possible, Jesus  had  to  go  the
         whole way to Calvary's cross, and  die  there  in  agony  and
         shame, bearing our sin in His Own body!
         [b] I trust that is you had any CONFUSION that God has broken
         through it tonight!
         [c] Has the Holy Spirit of God been speaking  to  your  heart
         and bringing CONVICTION showing you that you  are  not  right
         with God?
         [d] Have you permitted this to CONCERN YOU to the degree that
         you are willing to act in a constructive about  putting  your
         spiritual life on to an even keel?
         [e] If so then you can be GLORIOUSLY CONVERTED tonight!!
         Like the jailor, if you "BELIEVE ON THE  LORD  JESUS  CHRIST
         AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED!"
         [f] As I gave my testimony in an open-air on the  streets  of
         London's So-ho, a man came up  to  me,  and  told  me  I  was
         committing the sin of presumption  -   I was  presuming  that
         I  was saved!
         I simply repeated the words of Scripture, as I quote them  to
         you tonight, "Believe on the Lord  Jesus  Christ,  AND  THOU
         SHALT BE SAVED!!"
         [g] It is a statement of fact - BELIEVE - AND IT HAPPENS!
         Admittedly, it has to be a total commitment of Belief to  the
         point of reliance, like the drowning man believing in one who
         rescues him!
         IT MEANS ENTRUSTING THE WHOLE OF YOUR LIFE INTO HIS CARE!
 
         ARE YOU WILLING TO MAKE THAT COMMITMENT TONIGHT?
 
         THE OPPORTUNITY IS YOURS JUST NOW!
 
         Songs from Salvation Army Song Book
 
         SONG                TUNE
         696                 802           Storm the Forts of Darkness
         338                 375 or 382    I'm  a  soldier
         699                 264           Stand up for Jesus
         490                 685   CHORUS ONLY FOR APPEAL
         300                 767           Out of my bondage