Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Imagine someone asking you this question. Would you be ready to tell them? What would you tell them?

Fortunately for us, we have the response that Paul and Silas gave to this troubled Philippian jailer about to kill himself with his own sword.

Let me set the context for us. Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke have just arrived in Macedonia on their second missionary journey. They arrive in Philippi and on the Sabbath day go to the riverside for a prayer meeting (Acts 16:12-13). At the meeting is Lydia, a worshiper of God and seller of purple fabrics. She hears the gospel message delivered by Paul and "the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul." (v14) She believed in Jesus Christ and her and her whole household was baptized. She then persuades them to stay at her house, providing hospitality to them and supporting their ministry in Philippi.

While in Philippi, they also encounter a slave-girl filled with a demonic spirit of divination, "bringing her masters much prophet for fortunetelling." (v16) The demon within her spoke the truth concerning these men, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." (v17) While the demonic spirit spoke rightly, it was a horrible messenger. The spirit tormented Paul and his companions to the point of nagging them. Paul, greatly annoyed, rebuked the spirit and it left her immediately. When the slave-girls masters saw that they no longer had a money maker in the girl, they dragged both Paul and Silas to the marketplace and before the authorities. They proceeded to lie about them saying, "These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans." (v19-21) Interestingly enough, both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens!

Rather than being tried as Romans, they were beaten with rods as Jews and thrown into the inner prison, where their feed were securely fastened in the stocks (v22-24). Before this beating, I picture myself shouting, "We're Romans! Stop this! We haven't had a trial!" But Paul and Silas remained silent willing to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:41). What an amazing confidence in knowing God's will for their lives even when it was extremely difficult and unpleasant to say the least.

So Paul and Silas are in prison. Again, I picture myself mopping around, crying in agony over the pain of being beaten without cause and unjustly. But what are Paul and Silas doing? "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." (v25) They were worshiping God through song and prayer! Unbelievable! They were clearly living in the power of the Holy Spirit and their present circumstances were not dictating their life. I want to live that way!

As they are singing and praying, the Lord brought an earthquake to the prison, shaking its foundations, opening its doors and unfastening all the chains on the prisoners! (v26) At this point, I'm thinking, "Let's get out of here! Run for it! God has set us free!" But Paul and Silas do something strange. They stay behind. As the jailer is about to kill himself with his own sword because he knows he's dead if the prisoners escape, Paul yells to him, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!" (v27-28) Why did Paul and the other prisoners stay behind? I don't know. But I think its a combination of Paul waiting upon the Lord and his care for the jailer.

The jailer then trembling with fear rushes in to see them all there! What he asks next is the most amazing thing to me, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (v29-30) The answer Paul and Silas give him is clear and concise and a model for what we should say to this important question. What must we do to be saved? "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved." (v31) This is the consistent message through the book of Acts. Belief in Jesus Christ brings salvation. It is by faith in Christ that we are saved. By his sensitivity to the Spirit, Paul was able to led the jailer and his whole household to faith! (v32-33) What an amazing testimony for us to seek to emulate.

The story closes with God in his timing having Paul and Silas released to continue their ministry (v35). May we too be those who follow the Spirit and not let the circumstances of life and our own flesh dictate our behavior.

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