God is busy in Acts chapter 16. The Spirit of God is working. The Word of God is being preached powerfully and effectively and God is working wonderfully and powerfully in the lives of men and women. The dramatic conversion of 3 souls appear in the history of this mission to Philippi in Acts chapter 16. It would seem that each conversion is more dramatic than the last. It would be hard to find such a divergent group of unlikely converts as we encounter here in Acts 16!
Lydia hears the word of God preached by the apostle Paul and is converted by the inner working of the Spirit of God in heart. In the midst of such a powerful movement of God the last thing you want is the distracting attention of Satan! The endorsement of a liar adds nothing to the preaching of the truth. Satan is the father of lies. In bringing the word of life the attention of a murderer from the beginning is decidedly unappealing! When presenting the profoundly transforming wisdom of God there is no need to seek the rubber stamp of a madman! Satan's attention was as unwanted as it was uninvited. Paul's second conversion is that of the fortune telling spiritist medium. It is as the word of God from Paul sets the young woman free, that Paul and Silas themselves are cast into the depths of the prison. It is here that Paul sees his third and perhaps least likely of all the converts at Philippi. The jailor is a hard nut to crack. It takes a work of God in this man's life to bring him to the precipice of suicide and the depths of despair. Against a back ground of demonic activity, in the darkness of the midnight hour, in the depths of the dungeon, the disaster of an earthquake hits. The despair that grips this man's soul goes beyond the physical catastrophes pressing in upon him. His greatest fear is not of the movement of the crust of the earth nor the blackness of the night but of what next? This man now fears God, perhaps for the first time, he fears God. It has taken all of this for God to change his mind!
The question the Philippian jailor asks is primarily a spiritual one; "what must I do to be saved?" because it has a spiritual answer; "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!" The question is simple and the answer clear and emphatic but it has almost destroyed this man to compel a closed mind to ask an open question! A step of faith in the finished saving work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save for now and forever. Jesus is God's answer to my need. Jesus is the sin bearer for me. Jesus is God's sacrifice for my sin. Jesus saves now and forgives forever. The fruits of this conversion are seen in the transformed life of the jailor.
From a gospel message preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
Yours by God's Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie