The world of yesterday as well as today struggled to come to comprehend salvation on God's terms. Unbelief splintered between those who felt they were too smart for a crucified Jesus and those who desperately sought for a sign, another sign, a miracle, a bigger miracle, evidence, even more evidence. They were seeking for proof whilst they rejected all proof, a sign when they refused all signs and evidence when they had closed their mind to the evidence that flowed freely from the hands of the creator.
The evidence for Divine activity is all around us and within us. His fingerprints are stamped on the intricacies of His creation, the bible is as robust a proof filled text as you will find, the saving work of Jesus on the Christ was a plan fulfilled to the tinniest detail from the Old Testament blueprint. The proof is there if you are willing to accept it.
Many stumbled at the cross of Jesus; that placed that condemned man and his efforts to reach God and displayed the love and earnestness of God in reaching man! It was because man had been wrong about Jesus that they had fashioned Him a bloody altar of wood. To accept God's salvation in the sacrifice of His Son, would be to admit we had been wrong about Jesus all along, and that was a bitter pill to swallow. Infinitely more bitter is the taste of eternal loss, if we continue to be wrong about Jesus. If He is whom He claimed to be; "the way, the truth and the life" then life's greatest tragedy is to be wrong about Jesus.
There is a dew that falls from heaven, leaving a touch of the Divine on earth, as the cool breeze from above recedes from the warm morning air. The human soul cries out for a meaning and substance, a little refreshing from above. In John's gospel and in his writings, he leaves us with a touch of the Divine, a taste of heaven, values that transcend time and that endure forever. In Christ we glimpse the eternal light, enduring love, perpetual truth and transcendent Spirit of God, a little taste of heaven. Dr J Stewart Gillespie graceinchrist.org
Jeremiah reflects with bitter regret a long summer of opportunity, missed and ultimately unproductive. God had laid the foundation for fruitfulness then as He has now in our lives. The plan of salvation has been laid out, the Person of His Son Jesus Christ has been given and the great provision for salvation has been made. Time and opportunity have been ours, every breath and every heart beat designed to preserve us in Divine Grace to know the God who created us.
A lot can happen between the sowing of the seed in spring and the first shoots of life in summer, ever before a fruitful autumn harvest! Seed can fall by the wayside to be quickly snatched away by the wicked one, enthusiasm without depth and substance can produce a transient flourish which does not endure. The suffocating distractions of this world, its financial prosperity, pleasures and pressing demands can ultimately choke the spiritual life from a soul,, rendering it unfruitful.
Jeremiah takes the question fruitfulness and opportunity and applies it personally with a catastrophic conclusion; "we are not saved." The bible is no mere philosophical musing on the nature of God and man. The message of sin, judgment and destiny is to be taken and applied personally to our hearts. Do we know Christ as Lord and Saviour or have we utterly missed the opportunity.
A message recorded at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock and preached by J Stewart Gillespie
Humanity has a habit of ignoring and neglecting the critically important, wither it be the rise of second World War dictators, the leak from a Ukrainian nuclear reactor or the current moral and spiritual confusion in the western world, we have a habit of burying our head in the sand and hoping the problems will disappear. God's men and God's message has over the years suffered a similar fate. Noah preached for 100 years, pointing men and women to repentance and presenting the righteousness and holiness of God. Only 8 responded. Jeremiah's ministry to Israel was likewise met with indifference, the prophet laments to his audience; "is it nothing to you all you who pass by?". The word of God had gone missing, lost in amongst the archives of the temple, in the days of Josiah, and the attitude of the world towards Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, went way beyond simple neglect!
The writer to the Hebrews perceives a danger not primarily from open hostility to Jesus Christ but from letting the gospel simply wash over them. Lip service was no substitute for heart devotion to Jesus! They stood to miss out on a "great salvation" (Hebrews 2:3), a salvation that was great in it's:
Plan - set out in the OT of the bible for 2000 years
Power - this message of salvation has the power to forgive sins and transform lives
Person - Jesus Christ, the Son of God is it's source and subject
It is one thing to acknowledge the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is quite another to be transformed by that truth.
A video and audio recording from our gospel preaching series, on great gospel verses, preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock, Scotland.
Apathy, indifference, compromise and luke warmness can be far graver dangers to us spiritually than outright opposition to or rejection of Jesus. We may incorrectly think that sitting on the fence is a safe option for us. It is not. It is the most dangerous of all the options. A cold heart can be warmed up and set on fire by the Spirit of God, a soul set alight by the Spirit of God is the Fathers desire for the followers of His Son Jesus. Mediocracy or lukewarmness is obnoxious to God.
The people of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3 appear to have fallen into this trap as a consequence of their failure to truly appreciate just how important and how special Jesus is. This letter to Laodicea begins by reminding us of just who Jesus is and why He is so important.
Jesus is the creator of the universe (verse 14)
Jesus is the God of heaven; the "Amen" (verse 14)
Jesus will be our judge (verses 15 & 16)
There is no way of avoiding Jesus! We all must deal with Him one day!
Against that background of who Jesus is we are surprised to find Him where we find Him in Revelation chapter 3 verse 20; standing patiently at the door. This is not the door of heaven which John has told us about in John chapter 10, rather this is the door of our heart. He stands lovingly and patiently, offering new life (verse 18), salvation and a living relationship with the God of heaven!
How tragic it would be to miss Him!
Dr J Stewart Gillespie
Yours by God's Grace in Christ
Text from the message:
So, it's nice to see everyone. That's out this afternoon. Thanks for coming and if you have your bibles. Why don't we turn to a book called The Book of Revelation I want to look at chapter three. I've been looking over the past few Sundays when we've been speaking on a Sunday at some of these verses that we have called great gospel verses. When I was a boy the preacher often came with single verse that summarised or encapsulate the message of the Bible in a nutshell that is Great Gospel verses, we've been looking at some of them through the New Testament in particular and one or two in the old as well course and I want to turn to one that was often preached here it is in this book of revelation Chapter 3 and verse 20 but we will read the whole little section. It begins in best number 14, revelation Chapter 3 and verse Number 14 It says, and to the Angel of the church of the Laodiceans write these things says the amen the faithful and true witness the beginning of the creation of god. I know your Works they are neither cold nor hot, I would that they were cold or hot, so then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of my mouth because you said I am rich and increased with goods and you have need of nothing. and you know not that you are wretched, miserable poor blind the naked I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire that you may be rich and white clothes that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear and anoint your eyes with eye ointment that you may see. As many as I love. I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door. I will come in to him and will eat with him and he with me verse 20 again, behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door. I will come to him and eat with him and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne even as I also overcome and I am sat down with my father in his throne. He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. We do look to God to bless his word to us at this afternoon. So this is a letter that's been written to a church and I'm just going to pluck one verse out of it and apply it. There's a way of looking at this verse that I think is really not just relevant for this church but for every single person. I want to take you a little further than New Cumnock tonight I want to take you to one of the hill tops of Turkey an interesting place, of you have ever been to Turkey! Not far From Laodicea there is a place you. can still visit, is called Hierapolis if you were to go to Turkey you can buy a ticket still for Hierapolis, Hierapolis is still popular. It's still a good place to go because it has hot water springs and people find still find that very useful and you have a bath and you can enjoy the hot water and down at the bottom of this hill that Laodicea is sitting on, are the same rivers that flow and people still use those rivers for drinking from those rivers, but there was an in-between, place, a place that we have read about here called Laodicea and it was in between Hierapolis with ait's nice warm. Springs where you could go for a spa and he was in between the cold water that you could drink and it had a water supply all of it's own. About 20-years ago it was excavated by some Turkish archaeologists who opened the water pipes and they found it was all silted up it was all blocked up, the water coming in to Laodicea was lukewarm and for this place of Laodicea with it's lukewarm water supply the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of heaven, has no use. It's neither nice and warm for a spa nor is it cold enough to drink, it is just somewhere in-between.. I think there is a lesson in that for everyone I think that sometimes in the world that we live in and certainly in the day that this letter was written in We think it's safe to sit in the fence. We can can be alright with things but we are not going to be 100 percent committed either way we are not really hot about something. I'm not going to really cold about it, we are not going to be against the Lord Jesus Christ we are not going to be cold and hard and bitter. We're not going to say that the Lord Jesus doesn't matter or the Bible is just fiction we are not going to be cold about it neither are we going to be hot we are not going to be 100percent committed will not going to take up the challenge the Lord Jesus Christ gave his disciples; that whosoever shall come after me let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me we're not going to take our life as the Apostle Paul spoke about in the book of Romans and present our body upon the altar to God; take your body and present as a living sacrifice Paul says to the Romans in chapter number 12. We are not going to go to that extrene. Tell you what we will sit in the middle and if you're in that kind of a situation like Laodicea then revelation Chapter 3 is a bit of a e wake-up call, for God doesn't have any use for being lukewarm He doesn't have any use for sitting on the fence, he wants complete commitment to the lord Jesus in fact. There's something very strange that took me years to work out exactly what it meant. In verse number 16 we read: so then because you're look warm and neither cold or hot I will vomit you out of my mouth. It seems to be the Lord Jesus Christ is saying that I would prefer that you were either cold or hot I would rather that you were against me than be lukewarm about me. why say to someone that I would rather that you didn't like me than be lukewarm about me the reason is very simple, if you take someone who is just cold and uninterested and and maybe has never had any experience of the good news of Jesus Christ sometimes It's easier to do something with him rather than someone who thinks that he knows it all and who is sitting on the fence. It's easier to warm something up, but it is very hard to make something of someone that is just lukewarm The challenge comes to the people sitting on the fence, don't be inoffensive don't be lukewarm. This is a challenge of revelation chapter number 3, don't sit in that place where you don't really fully commit to the lord Jesus to these people the Lord Jesus speaks and we read this great gospel verse Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door. I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. The Lord Jesus Christ offers a living relationship with himself something infinitely far better than being lukewarm. I think there was a reason that they really had not fully committed and fully trusted the Lord Jesus Christ the reason you have got at the beginning of this section. They didn't really appreciate who Jesus Christ was. I was speaking to someone just a few days ago and he was quite happy. I think he was really happy to acknowledge the truth of the Bible in many ways but he was Islamic and he was happy to tell me that Jesus is a prophet, that He a great prophet, But He is much more than a prophet To these people in Laodicea, Jesus tells them who He actually is, verse number 14, these things says the amen the faithful and true witness the beginning of the creation of God. Let me remind you that as we are thinking about Jesus we are not Just thinking about a great prophet although He was a great prophet and not just thinking about a great moral teacher for our lives although He is that, let me remind you that we are thinking about the creator of the Universe here. In verse number 14 He is the beginning of, or the origin of the creation of God that is That was made was made by the Lord Jesus, John tells us that elsewhere in his gospel in John Chapter 1 "in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God everything that was made it was made by Him" If you were to go over to the book of Colossians the Apostle Paul in Colossians and chapter number one tells us something quite startling about the structure and nature of the universe, this is quite mind blowing in many ways if you have a pocket calculator to work out the dimension of Colossians 1, this really stretches your pocket calculator get a glimpse of the greatness of who Jesus is, the Apostle Paul's take on the greatness of the lord Jesus In Colossians chapter 1 verse number 15; He is the image of the invisible god the firstborn of every creature, that means He has a place and position and entitlement so he's at the head in a sense of every creature. Verse 16 for in him. Were all things created that are in heaven and earth visible and invisible whether they be Thrones or dominions or principalities or powers all things were created by him and for him. Now that's the structure of the Universe that you and I live in about 20 years ago, someone wrote a book A Brief History of Time it was a very interesting book and in it. there were some tacit confessions that scientists made and one of them was that they could tell us nothing about the boundary conditions of the universe in other words all the we know about the world is what we can see and what we don't know we don't see, we know nothing about it We can only describe the universe so far as it is seen by us, out with it We don't know anything about it Colossians chapter 1 verse 16 fills in the blanks here. So beyond those 100000 million stars in the night sky and 100000 million galaxies that we know of beyond that is something and Colossians chapter 1 verse 16 says "but in him. We're all things created" that is everything that is in the universe and you and I can know of is within the person of Jesus Christ such is the vastness of the god of Heaven that He encapsulates all of His creation within Jesus He is greater than it all, He is out with it all and he creates not only in him but by the Lord Jesus Christ verse 16 and for Him. So get a grasp of the the greatness grandeur and the glory of the universe we are in glory of the universe we are in there is an infinite amount of power and energy out there an unbelievable amount of power, Einstein worked out the equation many years ago E = MC squared, that being true if you take up a cube of sugar and you to turn it into Pure energy, so just a cube of sugar would destroy the earth, the universe is absolutely jam packed with an unbelievable amount of energy and power all of this comes from Jesus Christ, get a grasp of the greatness and grandeur of Jesus, He is bog. Revelation 3 : and to the Angel of the church of the Laodiceans write these things says the amen, the amen, I suspect like myself you are fluent in Hebrew at least two words you know in Hebrew I'm sure you know two words: hallelujah and Amen, if you ever travel abroad on holiday and you got you go to a church and You don't understand anything. There's always two words you can understand be it in Greece or Cyprus or Spain or even Turkey you can pick up Hallelujah and Amen, Usually we have Amen at the end of a prayer but here it is a title, what does that mean again if you have your Bible maybe you could turn back into the Book of Isaiah the Book of Isaiah chapter number 65 chapter number 65 and verse number 16 speaking about God: "that he who blesses himself in the earth showed bless himself in the god of truth and He that swears on the earth shall swear by the god of truth because the former troubles are forgotten and because they are hid from my eyes, does that sound familiar? No it doesn't! Let me give a translation quickly for you in Hebrew at least one word in Hebrew That he who blesses Himself show bless Himself in the God of Amen Amen is a title of God, bring that knowledge with you now from the Book of Isaiah and stick it to revelation chapter 3 verse number 14, these things sayeth the Amen, in other words when we are talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, the god of the Universe, the greatness and the glory and the grandeur of the Lord Jesus I know that we often think of Jesus Christ as the meek and lowly and I know that we often think of him as the man upon the cross and he is indeed and I know that we often think of Him as having been beaten whipped and spat upon and tortured for our sins and He was but also remember his greatness We are speaking about God, there's no getting away from Him, there's no there's no avoiding Him and in fact one day revelation Chapter 3 tells us we're going to meet Him in another special way, if you go down there to verse 15 of Revelation 3 "I know your works that you are neither cold or hot I would that you were cold or hot so then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of my mouth, in other words He is going to judge them. Jesus Christ that this book is all about was there at the very beginning! He is the creator God, Jesus Christ that this book speaks about He is going to be there at the very end, He is the judge God has appointed all judgement to Jesus Christ, you just cannot avoid Him, He was there making you in a sense and He will be there judging me in a sense and what revelation Chapter three is saying to this group of people listen your kind of your kind of in-between. You're not fully committed to Him, listen you can not avoid Him, everything that you have you owe to Him and one day you are going to meet Him so let's get real about him don't sit on the fence about him, that's not going to do, we want something better than that Here is the great offer of the Lord Jesus here Do you remember that He is creator? Do you remember that He is judge? Let me introduce you to something even more glorious than that he is creator and judge revelation 3:20 behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door. I will come in to him and I will eat with with me and He with me" "let him buy of me gold tried in the furnace that you may be rich and white clothes that the shame of your nakedness do not appear We get a glimpse not only of Jesus Christ as the Creator and as the judge but we get this wonderful picture of the Jesus Christ as the Saviour, Jesus Christ is able to forgive since Jesus Christ is able to put us in something clean and white that's what that picture language of verse 18 is about, and they've got this contamination of sin He is able to put this new white cloth on them, He is able to to make them new and fresh and he's able to bring them into a living relationship with himself, open the door and I will come in there in verse 20 and I'll eat with you Jesus is going to have a living relationship with men and women He is the saviour. He is able to bring us into that relationship with the God of heaven is he is able to deal with the problem that will keep Us apart from God Maybe you have already identified the problem here. It's pretty obvious isn't it, verse 20, I stand at the door and knock. It is pretty obvious that the door is shut. There's a strange thing that John wrote the book of revelation and he wrote another 4 books in the New Testament including John's Gospel and it is interesting that the door appears quite often in John's writings, go back into John Chapter number 10 the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of Himself as a door to heaven, I am the door by me if any man enter in he shall be saved, but we have a different door here that John speaks about, it is not so much the door That is the Lord Jesus but the door That is your heart, my heart. This a different door not the door that is Lord Jesus the door that is there for you and I to enter into heaven is open in a sense I am the door come by me Jesus gives the invitation to you in John chapter 10, I'm opening the door for you, there is nothing stopping you, I am the door, by me if any man enter in he shall be saved It's open you can go in, here is the tragedy of the second door here in revelation Chapter three it is closed and it is my door, it is your door and look at the Grace great Grace loving Grace and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ as he stands at the door, He who is the creator of my life and the judge of all men standing patiently at the door. Have you had a delivery from Amazon or DPD or any of these things people? They don't stand very long do they? But here is the God of the universe. I stand at the door. and knock if anyone hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him and he with me, the God of the universe, see he ought really to be my judge, for I know something about the problem that these Laodiceans had I can look inside my head, I can look in my heart and I can see I am lukewarm and maybe I can look at my life and I can see something that needs cleaning Verse 18 speaks about that something that needs cleaned up and really he ought to be my Judge but here's the tremendous glory of the grace of God the grace of Jesus the one who ought to be our judge extends his hand and his arm of Grace and kindness and He invites us to open our hearts and to invite Him in to have a living relationship with the god of heaven and you can do that of course because Yes, you can do that because of of what he has done for you. Way at the beginning of the book of revelation one of the greatest pictures or descriptions. We have of the lord Jesus is the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb on the throne in revelations 4 and 5 He is a lamb because he's the one who has given himself in sacrifice for sinners, He the lamb because his blood has been shed as a sacrifice because he has been to Calvary, to the cross, He has paid the price for sinners and taken the judgement upon himself He is the one that is able says the word of God to save forever all that come to God him because He ever lives I wonder if you know him? Revelation chapter 3. I think is a great challenge it so easy at times to become familiar with with who He is Revelation 3 is looking for commitment, 100% commitment, God has no use at all for folks in the side lines He wants those that are willing to take up their cross and follow him. He wants those who live for him and those who want to enjoy that living relationship with the one that made them. What a Saviour Let us pray, our Father we do come into your presence this afternoon. We thank you for the Lord Jesus we thank your Father for a god of infinite Grace. We remember our Father who He is that he is the creator of this universe and we remember that he will be the judge of the world and how wonderful it is to get a glimpse of that one who one day we'll sit upon the throne of judgement the one father who has hung upon the cross and a father and we thank thee for his loving kindness and His grace. He has been very patient with us over many years and standing at the door and sometimes our father we can almost hear that knock we can hear the voice of conscience sometimes our father. we hear His knock in the circumstances of life as we Face the great disappointment and bitterness of our life We feel the god of Heaven knocking our father at times when we open the word of God and we read afresh the verses of scripture. We we read them and again father we can hear at times Jesus knocking, sometimes father in the preaching of the word of God we can hear that again, His voice knocking How tragic it would be for thy Son to knock and we never really open that door and we keep Him out and we pray our father that our heart and our lives would be open to him. We would know and trust him that we would enjoy that living relationship with with you our father and we give thanks for all that has been done that. We might indeed. Enjoy such.
"Behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me." Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 - a message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie at Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock
Guilty of atheism, hedonism and materialism, the rich farmer of Luke chapter 10 becomes a salutary warning for all who cut God out of their reckoning, seek satisfaction in the material world alone and fail to reckon that it is appointed to man one day to die and after this the reckoning. Declared a fool by God the rich farmer failed to carefully number his days to apply his heart to wisdom and in so doing he missed not only joy and satisfaction but the eternal life that is there in Christ, a treasure beyond all else. Dr J Stewart Gillespie graceinchrist.org
John chapter 11 is one of two great passages in the bible in which we are introduced to the Shepherd character of our God. The Shepherd character of our God flows from His love and care and compassion for His sheep that have wandered and gone astray. This Shepherd is no simple religious guru nor teacher. Our Good Shepherd has paid the ultimate price to claim the souls of these lost sheep. He has come through the door. There was nothing underhanded nor dubious in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. A work has to be undertaken. The Old Testament prophesies had to be fulfilled. A fallen humanity didn't just need a handful of new ideas or high standards. A fallen, lost and sinful humanity needed a Saviour, a sin bearer, one who could set free and save His people from sin and judgment. This alone is found in the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep.
A gospel message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie, at Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock.
The expectation of many who accept the reality of God and who anticipate the judgment of God is that on the balance of positive and negatives their life will be sufficiently meritorious to gain heaven and eternal life, such is the frequent religious perspective of many a religious mind. Romans chapter 6 verse 23 presents the fallacy of this idea. I is one thing to move from life into death by means of sin, it is quite another to move from death into life by means of self effort! Some human aspirations may be achievable, but even in the physical sphere many are not.
Every before Paul penned the words of Romans chapter 6 verse 23, Jesus had already turned this simple of idea of religion on it's head. Heaven and eternal life are neither attainable, nor can they be an expectation of reward, earned by a life well lived. It was Jesus who:
Raised the standard by reminding us that goodness is uniquely the attribute of God; "there is none good but God"
Took our place! It was Jesus who took upon Himself what He did not earn nor deserve that we might be given what we did not earn nor deserve. His was the suffering and punishment and death that ours might be salvation, blessing and life.
Forgave sins. There would be no need for God's gracious forgiveness of sins if such absolution could be earned by man.
Death we can easily aspire to but eternal life can only be received as an unearned gift by faith.
From a gospel message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock.
Revolutionary words from the lips of God's unique Saviour echo through Matthew chapter 11. Many had missed who Jesus truly was. The power and significance of His miracles had gone straight over their heads! Jesus could produce bread that was good enough for them and their bellies. Jesus could heal the deaf, the lame and the blind, that was even better than going to the doctor. The revelation of who He was through the demonstration of what He is able to do completely alluded many. Against the backdrop of such apparent bitter disappointment with towns like Capernaum and Bethsaida the Lord Jesus bursts into thanksgiving and praise! So long as God is in control, so long as His Father remains Lord of heaven and earth, there is meaning in the madness, purpose behind the problems! It may well have been the case that a stubborn core of self professed experts proudly aspired to tell God how they would get to heaven and what the right 'religious' was truly was, but the message of Jesus was only for the babes (Matthew chapter 11 verse 25), for those humble enough to ask God what His way was and then to take it on board and obey it!
Matthew chapter 11 verse 28 has at its core a person: "come to me". This is the core not only of verse 28 but of the bible in it's entirety. Jesus is the subject of prophecy, pictures and the many repeated patterns in the bible. David in the Psalms, Isaiah and Zechariah in their prophecies all anticipated the advent of God born into time, prepared to suffer for the sinner (Isaiah 53 & Psalm 22) and victorious in resurrection (Psalm 16). Jesus calls us to rest, to complete spiritual rest that penetrates deep into our soul. He alone is able to lift the burdens of fear, death, judgment and hell. He is the sin bearer, the only one powerful enough to forgive sin and transform lives. The call of Jesus Christ is a call to saving faith in a person.
From a gospel message preached from Matthew chapter 11 verse 28 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie, preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock.
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.
Romans chapter 10 verse 9 is one of the great Gospel verses of the Bible. Not only does it present to us the simplicity of what it means to take that step towards salvation; to confess and to believe but this great bible verse also points us to the truth that such a plan of salvation is entirely reasonable and sensible. It may seem on the surface odd or even illogical somehow that God could offer the forgiveness of sins freely and the grace to open heaven without us first earning such a right! Heaven is not ours because we deserve it and salvation is not the end point of our hard works. The Gospel is from the same God who gave us freely our life, who gives us freely our breath, He is the same God who gave in grace the revelation we have of Him throughout scripture and He is the same God who came to us as Jesus Christ, unearned and undeserved. In fact in all of the very greatest works of God for us, His gifts are unearned and undeserved. This holds true in His offer of salvation, a finished work in Christ, full and free and by faith.
God speaks through life, through creation, by His Word finally and fully in His Son Jesus Christ. If we have not heard God speak it is because we have not listened. Like those living in the days of God's loudest and clearest call, watching the life and miracles of Jesus Christ we can 'stop our ears so that we do not hear.! In Acts chapter 8 God speaks again. We observe God speaking Personally to Philip, a man sensitive to the personal guidance of the Spirit of God, moving obediently the call of God on his life and movements. We observe too the transformation in the Ethiopian eunuch as God speaks to this man through His word. He is transformed from ignorance to intelligence, darkness to light, from desperate seeking to settled conviction that he has found the answer to all of his searching, not in a place or a religion but in God's Son Jesus Christ. God speaks clearly in Acts chapter 8 through His Word, by the ancient prophets. Philip is able to open up the meaning of Isaiah chapter 53, showing that this ancient prophecy speaking of one led as a lamb to the slaughter as the sin bearer and sin sufferer and presented as the source of eternal salvation and the forgiveness of sins speaks of none other than Jesus Christ. It is by Jesus that the offer of Isaiah chapter 53 is made good; that by knowing Him, that is trusting Him, this righteous servant will make many right. God's fullest revelation lies here of course; the revelation of His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1). For those deaf to the still small voice of God, unwilling to open God's Word and dismissive of Jesus Christ, God has one other ongoing means of communication to a world deaf to His grace; that of changed lives. Baptism is a water shed moment in a person's life. For Israel in the book of Exodus it separated them from the world's old system in Egypt. In the days of John the Baptist, baptism drew a line between the old sinful ways and the new life of repentance. To the Corinthians in chapter 10 it was a water shed not so much form the world and it's system, nor simply sin but from the demonic and Satan, but perhaps the greatest of all demands present in baptism is the call to personal consecration, the leaving of the old life of self behind and the commitment to live the new life in Christ, by God's grace (Romans chp 6).
The way to heaven and the path to knowing God runs as a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. Some verses in the bible encapsulate these great truths in a more condensed form than others. Perhaps supreme amongst all of these great gospel verses is John chapter 3 verse 16:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
At the outset this verse leaves me alone with God, as ultimately I will be. All of my life, willingly or reluctantly I live with the assumption that God has created me, even if my reasoning leads me down paths of atheism, doubt or rejection of God; I still assume that the mind I possess is capable not only of drawing conclusions but of reaching truth, correct and reliable answers. In reality I have no basis for such a belief unless the mind I possess has been designed with truth in mind, quality controlled and 'fact checked.' A randomly arranged brain constructed from cosmic gunge would hardly be a reliable source of truth!
John 3:16 gives me not only the way of salvation; that by way of faith in the person of Jesus Christ but this great bible verse provides me with the reason for God's plan of salvation; "for God so loved the world." The reason for the desire of God to save men, to send Jesus and to provide a cross and a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins lies in the unfathomable love of God towards us. Herein is an irresistible tide of Divine love lapping on the shores of human experience against which no evil of man nor malice of Satan can overcome. This is the love that brings Jesus, the source, substance and certainty of God's plan of salvation. The gospel is 'good news' both 'good' and 'new'. Jesus however is 'good Master,' 'good' but not new! He is the eternal Son of God. Get a glimpse of the sacrifice of God's Son for the sinner, believe in Him for salvation and grasp the certainty that salvation has in Him. It is the person of Jesus Christ we glimpse and grasp through hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, pictures and pointers.
John 3:16 ultimately leaves us with a decision; a decision that determines destiny; "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."