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THE ALL-IMPORTANT QUESTION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, July 27, 2008
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

 

I am so glad that you came to church this morning! Our young people went out to the colleges and malls that abound here in the Los Angeles area. And they invited you to come. And so many of you did come! We’re glad that you did. You are our special guest. Thank you for coming!

Now I want you to turn in your Bible to the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts. It’s on page 1172 of the Scofield Study Bible, if you have one.

The Apostle Paul and his companion Silas had been preaching the Gospel in the city of Philippi.  And a slave girl who was demon possessed followed them.  And every time they would preach the demon made her scream, and it distracted the people who wanted to hear the sermons.  So Paul finally turned around and cast the demon out of her.  This entire episode disturbed a great many people.  They arrested Paul and Silas.  They beat them.  They put them in prison and locked the door.  But at midnight an earthquake struck the city.  The doors of the prison were broken open.  The jailer was frightened that his prisoners had escaped.  He was afraid that a Roman court would put him in prison for letting them loose.  But Paul and Silas were still there.  And that brings us to our text.  Please stand as I read Acts 16:28-30. 

“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:28-30).

You may be seated.

There are many things in this passage of Scripture that are important.

I. First, the Devil was working in the background.

You see, Paul and Silas would never have been put in that prison in the first place if they had not cast a demon out of that girl. Oh, yes, I believe in demons. I believe there is a real Devil and real demons. Christ had a great deal to say about the Devil and the demons. Christ cast demons out of possessed people on several occasions, just as Paul did, as recorded earlier in this chapter.

But the main thing is not casting out demons. Exorcism is not the purpose of our preaching. It is much deeper than simply casting out a demon. Because the Bible teaches that every unconverted person is influenced by Satan and demons. The Apostle Paul went so far as to say,

“In time past ye walked…according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Paul called the Devil “the prince of the power of the air.” He called Satan “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). That means every person who is not truly converted to Christ is under a certain amount of Satanic control.

I think that’s one of the reasons we see so much drug abuse, and so much sexual immorality today. I believe that is one of the reasons suicide is the number two cause of death among young people under the age of twenty-five. I believe that the Devil is an active agent that pushes many young people into some of the terrible things that are happening on the streets of our cities today. You can come from a nice home, and it seems like everything is all right, but you may have inner fears and worries, and depression, that no one knows about – not even your parents. And often young people tell me they don’t know where to turn for help. I’ll tell you where to turn! Turn to Jesus Christ! And then come into the local church. We have a large banner here on the wall behind the pulpit. It says, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church!” And we always add the words, “Why be lost? Come home – to Jesus Christ the Son of God!”

But the Devil does more than entice people to sin. He does do that, but he does something far worse than that. The Bible says,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

In that verse Satan is called “the god of this world.” That doesn’t mean Satan is all-powerful. Only God is all-powerful. It means that God has allowed Satan to rule the minds of unregenerate men in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4).

That’s why the jailer was so confused and nearly committed suicide. His mind was blinded by Satan. He didn’t know Christ. He was completely confused by the problems that faced him, because Satan had blinded his mind. Have you ever felt confused about life? Have you ever felt that the problems you face as a young person are so overwhelming, that you don’t know who to turn to for advice, that no one seems to be able to help you overcome your problems, fears, and especially your loneliness? The jailer at Philippi felt many of the problems and fears you are confronted about today. And often your parents don’t know how to help you. They may try to help, but they just don’t seem to be able to reach you. They often do not fully understand the great pressures and fears you are going through as a young person today. They often have so many problems of their own that they have little time or energy left to try to help you. But I want you to know that Jesus Christ fully understands everything you are going through. And Jesus wants to help you and save you from your sins and give you a whole new life in Him! Yes, you can be born again. According to the Bible you can start life over if you come to Christ and surrender to Him. It’s not too late to start over, to be born again, and experience a new life in Christ Jesus!

II. Second, the jailer came under conviction of sin.

Look at Acts 16:29. Read it aloud.

“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas” (Acts 16:29).

He had heard Paul and Silas praying, and singing and preaching in his prison, and this, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, made him tremble with great fear.

That often happens when a person is confronted with the Gospel and his own sins and his feelings of being lost, with no one to help him. It made him tremble with fear. And I believe that God Himself sent that fear to the jailer to wake him up and frighten him, and show him that he had no hope. Have you ever felt any of that? Have you ever felt the fear of death, as he did on that dark night? Have you ever wondered if there is any meaning to life – or if you were just put here without any purpose, just waiting to die,

“Having no hope, and without God in the world”?
     (Ephesians 2:12).

Have you ever felt that way – the way the jailer felt that night?

III. Third, the jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, and believed on Jesus.

The jailer brought Paul and Silas out of that prison, which had been broken down by an earthquake. The jailer brought them out of the ruins of that prison. He was trembling with God-given fear. Look at Acts 16:30. This is one of the great verses in the Bible. Read Acts 16:30 aloud as we stand.

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

You may be seated.

What a tremendously important question! He didn’t say, “How can I get out of this mess?” He didn’t say, “How can I keep from being put in prison myself for letting you get away?” Oh, no! God had touched his heart. He trembled in fear before God, and he said from his heart,

“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

He wanted to be saved!

I wonder if you feel that way this morning. Do you want to be saved – saved from your sins, saved from the wrath of God coming down on you for your sins? Do you want to be saved from being cast into the eternal flames of Hell? I believe all those thoughts were in the jailer’s mind when he asked them,

“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

How did Paul and Silas answer him? They simply said to him,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
     (Acts 16:31).

Verse 32 says,

“And they spake unto him the word of the Lord” (Acts 16:32).

So, they undoubtedly told him that the Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven and died on the Cross to pay the penalty for his sins. They also undoubtedly told him that Christ rose physically from the dead and ascended back to Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God. And they undoubtedly told the jailer that Jesus could wash all his sins away with His precious Blood. They told him,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
     (Acts 16:31).

Dr. Gill said,

Not with a bare historical faith…but so as to look unto [Christ] alone for life and salvation, to rely upon him, and trust in him…and to expect peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life from him… “And thou shalt be saved”; from sin, and all its miserable effects and consequences; from the curse of the law, from the power of Satan, from the evil of the world, from the wrath of God, hell and damnation; this is to be understood of a spiritual and eternal salvation (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume II, p. 301; note on Acts 16:31).

And that is exactly what we are asking you to do. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rely on Christ! Trust in Him! Be saved by Christ alone!

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
     (Acts 16:31).

IV. Fourth, the jailer was baptized.

Verse thirty-three says,

“And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized” (Acts 16:33).

This is believer’s baptism. First, you believe on Jesus and are saved. Then you are baptized into the fellowship of the local church. You are baptized after you are saved, and you become a member of the local church when you are baptized. In fact, I believe that this jailer and his saved family became members of the local church in the city of Philippi, along with Lydia and her family, who are spoken of earlier in Acts 16:14-15.

And that is what we pray will happen to you. We pray that you will come to Jesus Christ and be saved. After your conversion we pray that you will be baptized into the full fellowship of this local church. Let us stand and sing the last song on your song sheet. Sing it with all your heart!

I hear Thy welcome voice,
     That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
     That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
     Wash me, cleanse me in the blood That flowed on Calvary.
(“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Winston Song: Acts 16:25-34
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Home to Dinner" (by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.)


THE OUTLINE OF

THE ALL-IMPORTANT QUESTION!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:28-30).

I.   First, the Devil was working in the background, Ephesians 2:2;
II Corinthians 4:3-4; Galatians 1:4.

II.  Second, the jailer came under conviction of sin, Acts 16:29;
Ephesians 2:12.

III. Third, the jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, and
believed on Jesus, Acts 16:30, 31, 32.

IV. Fourth, the jailer was baptized, Acts 16:33.