The Philippian Jailor (Acts 16:25-34)
1. The Earthquake. 2. The Despair. 3. The Outcry. 4. The Preaching.
The episode was all of Christ. The earthquake in Scripture is a wonder as we see here. It certainly wasn’t a common event as is evident from the time and place. It took place at the bottom of the prison, also, the prison was not destroyed. The doors were opened and the prisoners’ chains were loosed. This is a wonder. A wonder and a work of sovereign grace. Just as we see Jesus’ wonders recorded in the gospels, they manifested the wonder of God’s grace! They are signs, just as is this here before us. The design is to open the eyes of the blind and to raise the dead to life. But such is no real help at all because these recipients are going to be blind again and die again. No, more than that, they were signs which opened the eyes and raised the dead spiritually. Never to be blind or to die again.
This earthquake was a sign also, a wonder of the kingdom of God piercing the darkness of this world. But why an earthquake you say? Why not just free the prisoners? Because one of God’s elect was there in the prison. This was for him to be called, it was a revelation of grace. The real earthquake’s in the soul, in the heart of the Jailor. The cause of this is the Holy Spirit of God and the word of Jesus Christ. The man is asleep, Christ awoke him with the earthquake. The result is the man found himself on the brink of hell, that’s why he is ready to commit suicide. Suicide means a person is on the brink of hell. Now the preacher’s call is of no effect whatever, it is only when Christ calls that it is effective. Whatever a person’s experience, whether born in the church or not, all must come to the brink of hell. Whether they are called from infancy or later in life, it must come to this, a man must find himself outside of Christ, on the brink of hell with no hope. He must experience this, utterly hopeless. This is true today, in any day.
It is this that makes him cry. He has never heard the gospel yet he cries for salvation, not for an answer to his predicament or to alter his circumstances. All he fears is the fear of death. If there was no death there would be no fear. There is no freedom from fear without the freedom from death. If death was a natural process no one would fear it, as neither plants and animals do for instance. Death is an expression of wrath that’s why men fear it and why the Bible calls it the king of terrors. God’s salvation is deliverance from the cause death, sin. It was Jesus Christ who said in the Jailor “what must I do” and it was Christ who answered, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” He is called to have faith in Jesus Christ, not a man, for God is a God of wrath. He is called to trust in God, in his divine favour, but he can only do so through faith in Christ. For Christ is God manifest in human flesh, there is no revelation of God except in and through Christ. Is faith something that we perform, is it a condition? No, most certainly not, it is a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8). Faith is the means by which we have a living contact with Jesus, by which we are ingrafted into him. You can have a light bulb but with no electricity, no light. If there is no connecting wire to the bulb, there is no light. Faith is the connector between us and Jesus Christ. Ah, but you say, we ourselves must throw the switch! No, the Holy Spirit does so through the preaching of God’s word.
The Jailor cries, he is answered, “believe in me and be saved” Jesus Christ poked him with his word, and the Holy Spirit switched faith on. But it must be an active faith, someone says, it must do something? Yes, but an active faith is not witnessing, nor even street preaching. Active faith is resting in Christ and in his completed work. Those who harp on about human responsibility very seldom fulfil their own responsibilities. Those who depart from the truth of election and reprobation depart from ethics and often reveal a lack of moral value in their own lives. Those who speak much about love often reveal the most corrupt hatred in the church. They talk about love, yes, but to do so apart from truth, they are not talking about God’s love.
The fruit of the Jailor’s conversion? 1. He rejoiced in God and he gloried in his salvation. 2. He shows the fruit of love to the brethren. If Jesus Christ calls you-you will find these three things present. 1. You will find yourself lost. 2. You will find salvation in Christ and in Christ alone. 3. You will show forth the fruit of love for the Christian brethren.
By Rev H Hoeksema.
(Jimmy Hamilton aka The Street Preacher.