Sermon in a nutshell: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household!” (Acts 16:16-40)
We have had a wonderful week of Vacation Bible School. Our theme was Fun Fare Everywhere! We wanted to give the children the experience that “Coming to church was fun!” We know from past experience that if a person in a family accepts Jesus as his or her savior then he or she can be the seed in that family which will then have an opportunity to become Christians.
Were you the first Christian in your family? I pray that the children who came to our VBS might become the seed for his or her family. In the Bible lesson today, we read about a prison guard who accepted Jesus as his savior. His entire family was then baptized and became Christians. Do you know what Paul and his friend did to save this family? They gave up their chance in prison to become free to save just one person.
Why were they in jail? Well, it is a long story. One day Paul and Silas were going to the place of prayer. They met a female slave who had a spirit through which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling. She followed Paul’s party, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
With these false charges, Paul and Silas were severely flogged and thrown into prison. However, Paul and Silas did not complain to anybody but started singing hymns to God and the other prisoners listened to them! Suddenly, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken and all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Paul and Silas did not run away. Their purpose was not to have their own freedom but to be witnesses to God’s love and power. They gave up their freedom to have an opportunity to share God’s love with the prisoners and with the prison guards!
The jailer called for lights. He was very moved and touched by the power and love of God. He rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and his entire household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his entire household.
In this case, we can call this not VBS but PBS (Prison Bible School)! However, the same thing happened both in our VBS and in Paul’s PBS. The teachers demonstrated sacrificial love for the participants. We sang a lot of songs of praise to God! The teachers taught the love of God not only with words but also with their examples. That gave the participants an opportunity to feel the love, support and fellowship of a Christian family. We were even blessed to baptize one person during the VBS!
So, there are three things that we need to do to share God’s love and save souls!
- Keep praying for everybody.
- Praise God in all circumstances, singing hymns and praises.
- Give up your rights and privileges in order to save others’ lives.
May God bless all of us who want to share God’s love everywhere in all situations!