Since arriving at Philippi in Acts 16:12, there have been several additions to our cast of characters – Lydia, an unnamed slave girl, the girl’s owners, the magistrates of Philippi, a chorus of townspeople, and a group of prisoners. I realize in looking at that list that God positioned Paul and traveling partners to minister to people at each and every level of status in the city of Philippi. To both women and men. From slaves and prisoners to those with wealth and power. From worshipers of God to people previously ignorant of Him. God desires all people – His entire creation – to know Him and come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). Once we come to God through and in Christ, there is no longer any distinction, “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28, Amp). If you were in class a few weeks ago (maybe a month now), that verse should ring a bell … It’s one of the aspects of our identity in Christ. Yesterday we continued Paul’s secondary missionary journey with Acts 16:26-34. I sense the need to remind you that nothing I say here could or should replace the Scripture itself, so before you continue with this post, please read the passage yourself…
… A character who had a cameo in last week’s lesson just became a leading man – the jailer. Yesterday we worked our way backward from verse 34 to verse 26 – talking about:
(1) how the jailer showed genuine love for Paul and Silas (vs. 33-34),
(2) how it was hearing God’s Word and receiving Christ that gave the jailer the ability to love Paul and Silas (vs. 31-32), and
(3) how the door was opened for Paul and Silas to minister to the jailer and his family through the jailer’s question (vs. 30): “Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?”
Yesterday we chased the jailer’s question back to a strikingly similar question with a similar love-related response in Luke 10:25-37. I encourage you to go there and read that passage. Compare questions. Compare answers. Compare outcomes. I pray you’ll see how the jailer was certainly a powerful example of how having Christ in you today is better than even having Him standing in front of you in the days before His death, burial, and resurrection (John 16:7).
All that being said, the direction I feel led to take this week’s post will allow us to look at the two things the jailer asked for. We’ve already seen one of them (the second), “… what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?” (vs. 30), but look back at verse 29, what other thing did the jailer ask for? Okay, he “called for” it … light.
In yesterday’s message, our speaker, John Preston, led us through a selection of Scriptures from Psalm 23 to Galatians 6:9. Given my current Acts 16 perspective, several of the verses jumped off the page as relating to our study of Paul and his missionary journeys, but one, in particular, reminded me so much of the jailer and his two requests in that midnight hour. Psalm 27:1a, “The LORD is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread?” What did he ask for again? … light and the way of salvation. God had given Paul such a masterful way of knitting together Scriptures from (what we would call) the Old Testament with their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. I imagine Paul using the jailer’s plea for light and the way of salvation to say to him, “You want lights. You recognize your need for salvation. Praise God! Allow me to tell you of my Light and my Salvation.” (my own dramatization).
In reading the remainder of Psalm 27 this morning (By the way, I encourage you to read it, too.), I wonder if this Psalm may have been one of the songs of praise Paul and Silas lifted up in the moments before God shook the foundation of that prison (Acts 16:26) – along with the foundation of the jailer’s life. I ask you today, what has been laid as the foundation of your life? Has Christ been the Cornerstone to which you have measured everything (Eph 2:20)? Does He continue to be your Cornerstone?
So what? Like Paul (Rom 15:20), God is not interested in building on the foundation of another. Now what? I ask you today to examine the foundation of your life. Then what? Where you find sand beneath it, ask that God replace it with the Rock that is Jesus Christ (Matt 7:24-27). Amen.