Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Freedom!

Posted on July 18th, 2021

Acts 16:16:40

INTRO: Good morning. Last week we left Paul and Silas in Philippi after the conversion of the very first European converts, Lydia and her household who were added to the Lord’s church. Our text for this morning continues in Acts 16:16-40.

First though a quick story I heard a long time ago about a young couple looking for their first new car. While looking around the auto dealer's showroom, the young people were a little surprised by the price of a compact car.
"They're almost the same price as a full-size car!" the young man exclaimed.
The salesman quickly replied, "But, you see, if you want economy, you have to pay for it."

I wonder what value we put on things? Most of us place value on things that are worth something to us, whether it be our homes, our cars, or our possessions. Then there are things that are very difficult to value. What value would we put on our family members lives? I guess all of us would say that our families are priceless.

When we look around at our church family and their families we see people who are struggling with many things. Eyesight, hearing, pain, the ability to move easily, fading memory and a whole host of ailments. In our own families I imagine most of us are used to seeing some of our loved ones struggling too, because they have ailments from time to time. How would you, and they, react if they were suddenly healed of those ailments?

I. What Luke records next is just that very thing, healing. But the reaction to the healing is interesting to say the least. Acts 16:16-24 – “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.'' And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.'' And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.'' Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”[NKJV]

A. Luke reported that as the group went for prayer, a slave girl who we are told was possessed by a spirit followed them crying out, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

1. I would have thought that such an occurrence would be very helpful in furthering the gospel, but Paul clearly did not think so, and after consideration we can see why. After all, the people there believed this girl could foretell the future and her masters made considerable profit in the process.
2. Thinking about it, accepting the recommendation of demons would have been to lend credence to anything else the demon might have made her say, even lies.

B. Paul cast out the demon by the authority of Jesus, but look at the reaction of her masters’. After Paul had healed her, they only saw one thing... they saw their income going right out the window. So, they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the marketplace, and once again we see... mob rule. The magistrates had Paul and Silas beaten, cast into the inner prison and their feet placed in stocks.

1. You would think that her masters would be grateful that this girl was now demon free and healed. If your values are in the wrong place though, and all you see is an income and not a person, then you won’t place much value on that human life. That is the essence of slavery, isn’t it? Every day it seems we hear of similar things where people have their values in the wrong place.
2. Let me share a few thoughts with you about so called modern day psychics and fortune tellers. Most psychics use a method called “cold reading” and although I am no expert in “cold reading” in that I’ve never done it, the concept is simple enough to grasp.
3. If the “psychic” wants to reveal something about a person’s past, he or she begins fishing (i.e. talking with the person) looking for affirming nods or verbal agreements from the one for whom the “reading” is being conducted. Then they continue along these lines, making very general statements, until they are satisfied they have “revealed” something that would impress the person, or at least earn them money.
4. When we make these nods and slight body movements while we talking with someone we may not even realize we’re doing them. Psychics look for these things that are done unconsciously by those who are being read. They are trained in reading body language.
5. Most of us see others reactions when we are talking to them and to a large extent we ignore the reactions. However, those non-verbal clues can be quite important in communication. In talking to a friend or relative, expressions or body language indicating displeasure may cause us to quickly reflect on what we have said and help us avoid difficulty or make a correction.
6. I can see reactions when I’m preaching. In that case, I look for agreement, disagreement, or confusion, all of which signal me to consider what I’ve said. I stick to facial expressions because that is the easiest for me to quickly take in. You can move a part of your body in expression and you don’t even know you did it. We do these things unconsciously. Psychics are experts in reading these signs.

C. One person has described psychics as “terrorists of the mind.” If it is the future they are foretelling, their predictions are vague enough to be “fulfilled” in any number of ways.

1. For example, one woman was told that her life would be filled with song. Her daughter became a song leader in high school.
2. Someone told me about a friend who used Tarots cards and every time this person went to visit his friend he would read the cards for him. Some of the things he said were interesting, but one thing the friend said every time was, “you’re going to get some money soon” and do you know what happened? He was right, every second week the person telling me this would receive a check from the unemployment office because he didn’t have a job. His friend knew he was unemployed. His friend knew he would be getting money from the government.

D. I have often wondered how many of the speculative predictions, that fit in the realm of the fantastic have failed, and yet nobody goes back to look into them. Folks, I am persuaded that psychics, astrologers, fortune tellers, Ouija boards, and such like are an abomination to the Lord because they encourage people to place their confidence in someone or something other than God and His will for their lives.

1. I think that when we look in the newspapers and read the horoscopes, we’re guilty of misplacing our values as well. The only place we should be looking for guidance is in the Scriptures. Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” There’s no place on earth or in heaven that God cannot guide you.
2. I like what David said in Psalm 139:7-10 - “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast”.

II. Where do we look for guidance? Back in the days when ships sailed by compass, and in a time before modern navigational technology came along, there was a binnacle, a waist-high case or stand on the deck of the ship, generally mounted in front of the helmsman. Its traditional purpose was to hold the ship's magnetic compass, mounted in gimbals to keep it level while the ship pitched and rolled.

A. The construction of many early (mid-18th century) binnacles used iron nails, which were later discovered to cause magnetic deviations in compass readings. With the introduction of iron-clad ships the magnetic deviation observed in compasses became more severe.

1. I’ve been told that some ocean going ships used two separate compasses. One on the binnacle and one up on the mast. Periodically a sailor would climb up the mast and check to make absolutely sure they were on course.
2. Someone asked a Captain about this, "Why do you have two compasses?" He answered, "This is an iron clad vessel. The compass on the deck is often affected by its metallic surroundings and could give an inaccurate reading. That is not the case with the one on the wooden masthead. The one above is not influenced by what is around it."

B. God has blessed us with two compasses to help guide us. He has blessed us with a conscience, and the Bible. Our conscience is affected by our surroundings and by the way we have been brought up. The way we’ve been taught. The conscience has a history of giving inaccurate readings.

1. He has also blessed us with His Word, the Bible, and it is given to us as the more reliable compass to guide us.
2. Twice in the Book of Proverbs in chapter 14:12 and chapter 16:25, He says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” In a sense this is God's way of telling us, "Be careful which compass you rely on."

C. I hope it is obvious to all of us that if we were to rely on mediums or tea leaf readings and that sort of thing, we would be relying on the wrong compass.

1. Back in the Old Testament before God’s people entered the Promised Land, God warned them to stay away from people peddling those things, and not get involved with them. I’m thinking of Deuteronomy 18:10-12 – “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” I’d say that is pretty clear, wouldn’t you?
2. Do you know what the punishment for this was? God said in Leviticus 20:27 – “A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.” God tells us this is serious. Make no mistake about it, folks, anyone who practices these things will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

III. Now let’s look back in at Paul and Silas who are in prison for doing good. What we find they are doing next is amazing, they are praying and singing! Acts 16:25-34 – “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.'' Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'' So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'' Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”

A. Luke tells us that at midnight, while the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas singing and praying, a great earthquake shook open all the prison doors. The jailor was about to kill himself because he believed the prisoners had escaped. He would rather kill himself than face the Roman soldiers because he would get the same punishment that the prisoners were supposed to get.

1. Paul stopped him by crying out that they were all there and he should not harm himself.
2. The jailor called for lights, leaped into the prison in trembling fear, fell before Paul and Silas, brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

B. Folks, the inspired response was the same as found in other conversions in the Book of Acts. The questions were similar, and the response is always the same.

1. It was the same in the beginning when Peter preached to the Jewish brethren on Pentecost. Acts 2:37-39 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” [KJV]”
2. It was the same on the Damascus road for the apostle Paul. Acts 22:10 – “ And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. Then Ananias was sent to him and he told Saul what was to happen and we read in verse 16 – “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

C. The jailor was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him so that faith could be produced.

1. Remember what Romans 10:17 teaches. Romans 10:17 - “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of God.” [para]
2. At the same hour of the night, he washed their stripes, which is a clear evidence of repentance. Immediately afterward, he and all the members of his household were baptized just like Peter’s audience did and just like the apostle Paul himself did.
3. Luke tells us then, and only then, "he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household”

D. The jailor and his household weren’t saved just because they believed. They had to do something with that belief. They needed to express that belief in action. Their action was to follow the commands which Paul and Silas told them and that was to be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

1. The rejoicing didn’t begin until after they had been baptized into Christ.
2. Why? Because that was the point in time when their sins were washed away, and they entered into a new relationship with Christ Himself.

IV. The church which meets at Philippi is beginning to grow thanks to God adding to their number. Luke continues in Acts 16:35-40 and here I’ll paraphrase - “When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men." The jailer told Paul, "The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace." This seems to imply that one of the conditions of their release was that the preachers should leave town; but if that was their intention, the magistrates were in for a shock.

A. “Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."

1. This indicates that Silas was also a Roman citizen. Perhaps that was one of the reasons Paul had for choosing him for the journey, we do not know.
2. “The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.”
3. The crime committed by the magistrates in beating and imprisoning Roman citizens without due process of law was a serious one. "The Valerian and Porcian laws exempted Romans from degrading forms of punishment," and these had been in force for centuries. No documentation was required. The simple statement, "I am a Roman citizen," took all proceedings against a prisoner out of the hands of local authorities.

B. “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them... Then they left.”

1. I wondered, why did the apostle refuse to go quietly? One possibility is that Paul wanted the authorities to realize even Roman citizens had believed in Jesus.
2. In any event Paul's refusal to leave the jail except on the condition of being personally escorted by the magistrates was a master stroke. It did much to establish the legality of their deeds in the minds of the people and was doubtless a source of much encouragement to the brethren. Moreover, the implied condition (at first) that they should get out of town was also negated. Paul’s group did leave after but he avoided any appearance of being thrown out of the city.

C. Before they did leave the city, they returned to Lydia's house and encouraged the brethren, then they bid them farewell.

1. There is something astounding about this. Those men who had been so shamefully treated, abused, beaten, illegally cast into prison, suffering the torture of stocks in the inner dungeon - those men encouraged the brethren!
2. They must have still been suffering from their treatment. Yet, they encouraged the young Christians whose distress at knowing of this treatment while real enough, was nevertheless mental rather than physical.

CONCLUSION:
Folks, as Christians we, in a sense, have all been to Philippi. We, like Lydia, had our hearts opened to respond to the message which was proclaimed to us.
We, like the demon possessed girl ,have been freed from the evil things which dominated our lives. We, like the jailor, had no purpose for living until someone came along and shared with us God’s purpose. We too like all the saints in Philippi have been set free.

I wonder about those who are not yet Christians. Is there a sin in your life that you need to be free from? Is there a sin in your life that has you chained to the prison walls?

Maybe your like the English singer-songwriter Robbie Williams who wrote a song called ‘Make me Pure’ but at the end of each verse he writes, “Oh Lord make me pure, but not yet.’
Are you like that? Do you want God to help you take the power of that sin away, but not yet?

I recall the film the Shawshank Redemption and during the film a young man named Andy enters the prison and makes a good friend with a lifer named Red. They are chatting away and Red says to Andy, ‘Prison does strange things to a man, first you hate it, then you get used to it and if you are here long enough you learn to rely on it.”

Sin can be just like that folks. When you first started knowingly sinning you hated it, then you kind of get used to it, and now you rely on your sin to help you through the week.

James describes how sin works in our lives better than I ever can. James 1:13-15 – “ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” [para]

One of the Hymns we often sing, written by Lewis E Jones, says, “Would you be free from the burden of sin? There's power in the blood, power in the blood; would you o’er evil a victory win? There's wonderful power in the blood.” There is power in the blood folks, power to set people free from the bondage of sin.

The only way to receive that power is by coming into contact with the precious blood of Christ in the waters of baptism. In those waters Christ will wash away all those sins if you will allow him to.

If you’re already a Christian, Christ has and will continue to wash those sins away but you need to allow Him to do that by continually living a faithful life.

Freedom comes to us in different forms. In the film Braveheart, the battle is brewing for Northern England and William Wallace with his family and friends have decided Longshanks has crossed the line. The murderous ways won't be tolerated any more.
Fantastic battles were fought and lost, betrayals and deception, payoffs and corruption abound, until agreements between clans create turmoil and mistrust amongst the warriors. The Rightful King of Scotland is betrayed and betrays as a result.
Clan trust is lost.

William Wallace can no longer hold together what they knew was rightfully theirs. Rebellion and lies costs him his life. Near the end of the film when Wallace is on the gallows, he says that famous word, one last time, “Freedom”.

Christ’s death on the cross, His burial and resurrection sent a clear message to all of Heaven and Hell and everyone in-between, ‘Freedom’! The freedom offered is rightfully yours, the freedom from sin and the power of the devil in your life. Mankind began in that freedom and lost it through sin but God offers us a way to gain it again through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God bless and thanks for taking the time to grow in your understanding of God’s Word.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

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