PLAN OF SALVATION – 6 (Acts 16)
We left off in Lesson 5 with Act 10 and 11 – the conversion of the first gentiles, and
its ramifications on the Jewish Christians. This racism thing will be a problem from here on out. Race is just
an excuse to hate, as are many other “isms.” But there seems to be something within all of us that has a
real tendency to give into this particular weakness.
Acts Chapter 12 is an interesting parenthesis, which demonstrates the depth and reasons for the
persecutions that Christians of the first century were enduring. The death of James is essentially contrasted with the
death of the one who killed him – Herod. Those who persecute Christians
and do not repent will pay a terrible price in eternity.
Chapters 13 and 14 contain the events of the first missionary journey of Paul. It is interesting
to note that Paul is sent out of Antioch and not Jerusalem. This
demonstrates that it is not an organization which makes Christians, it is the truth. While there are obviously many
conversions going on in these two chapters, there are no detailed examples given.
Note that Paul returns to Antioch
(Acts 14:26), gives them a report, and remains there for some time. While he was there some Jewish Christians came down
from Judea and taught that gentiles had to be circumcised if they were to be saved.
Paul disagreed and went to Jerusalem in an attempt to straighten
things out. This was not to establish the truth, since Paul obviously knew and was practicing the truth on this matter
for some time. Verse 3 indicates that he even taught the conversion of the gentiles on his way to Jerusalem. After the conference resolved a plan to deal with this issue in what seemed
to be an expedient manner, Paul and Barnabas had a falling out (Acts 15:36-41). Nevertheless,
Paul went on his second missionary journey with Silas.
Acts 16 contains two detailed cases of conversion that we will consider here – Lydia and the Philippian jailor. The details start in
Acts 16:13-15: “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer
was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted [thither]. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira,
which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, ‘If ye have judged me to be faithful to the
Lord, come into my house, and abide.’ And she constrained us.”
This follows the basic pattern. She heard, she “attended ...” – an interesting
variation on belief. And, she was baptized. It appears that Luke at this point expects the reader to understand
and expect baptism to follow belief. For, he does not state it as some new doctrine, but rather: “And when she
was baptized ...” Repentance and confession are not stated here as explicit acts, but they are implied by the
This is a rather brief example, and perhaps it has the unique quality of demonstrating the importance
of women and their obedience to God. It shows that God approves of women engaging
in commerce when that is an expedient thing in their lives. But, I believe that this is secondary to the independent
nature of women, and the demonstration that they have as much responsibility as men in coming to Jesus in His way.
Now let’s go on to the second conversion in this same chapter. Paul and Silas on their second missionary journey had been thrown into prison for doing God’s will. We pick up the story about midnight …
Acts 16:25-34: “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns unto God,
and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison-house
were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the jailor, being roused out
of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had
escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. And he called for lights and sprang
in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house. And
they spoke the word of the Lord unto him, with all that were in his house. And
he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. And he brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house,
having believed in God.”
To briefly comment on this case:
- The miracle was to get the attention of the
jailor, not to save him;
- He asked the direct question: “what must
I do to be saved?” No doubt he knew what Paul and Silas were incarcerated
for, and he also had heard them singing;
- Paul’s answer is a summary of the plan
of salvation: “Believe on the Lord Jesus” includes the actions that would follow such belief (although many who
teach “faith-only” will read no futher);
- This was followed by an elaboration of the
truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
- His washing their stripes was an indication
of his repentance;
- He was baptized “immediately.”
So these example as well confirm just exactly how the commands of Jesus (given in Lesson
1) are to be implemented.
In Lesson 7 we will look at a very interesting case of conversion that
took place in Acts 19, which is the final detailed case of conversion that we read about in the book of Acts. Please e-mail us if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org