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Seekers Response: Believed on in the World
Acts 16:25-34 NASB

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; [26] and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened. [27] And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. [28] But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!" [29] And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, [30] and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" [31] And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." [32] And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. [33] And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. [34] And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. 

Turn about, as they say, is fair play. The persecutor of the church sat in jail for the proclamation of the gospel. Late into the night, he and his companion sat on a cold stone floor, restrained around the ankles by rough hewn wooden stocks. By now, a cold chill was setting into his frail body. Unable to move about, he sat in a pool of his own blood and body fluids. His muscles were aching from the beating he took at the hands of the Roman guards-he was stiffening up. In the inner cell, darkness penetrated the room. The room was cold, dark and hopeless.

Paul knew how the children of Israel must have felt in their captivity when they said: 

For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion." [4] How can we sing the Lord's song In a foreign land? (Psalms 137:3-4)

But then again, maybe he didn't. Sitting in prison, Paul had a captive audience so he capitalized on the opportunity to bring some light into the terrible circumstance. He prayed and sang hymns. 

The prisoners listened.

And so did God!

An earthquake rumbled through the region. The prison shook, and as it did the noise drowned out the sounds of the Apostle's praise. Wood creaked, rocks slammed to the ground and the timber that fastened the door to the jail fell out.

As quick as it came, it departed. Dust settled. Silence. Paul heard the jailers sandals pound against the cobblestone as he ran to the front door of the prison, then the unmistakable sound of his sword unsheathing.

"Stop" Paul yelled, "we're all here, don't harm yourself."

Following a command Jesus gave in Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you," Paul loved his enemy enough to present the gospel to him. And the jailer was receptive to the gospel because of the crisis he went through.

But it wasn't just him, it was his entire household that was saved. There is a Biblical principle here that cannot be ignored.

Noah took his entire household on the ark. 

Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."

God didn't just save Noah, He saved the entire household on the Ark.

It wasn't just with Noah's family either, notice that Cornelius' entire household was saved. "And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; [14] and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household." (Acts 11:13-14)

The same is true with Lydia-her entire household was saved

"And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. [15] And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us." (Acts 16:14-15)

When God saved Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, He didn't just save him, God saved his entire household. "And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized." (Acts 18:8)

In fact, Paul didn't seem to think in terms of individuals coming to Christ, he spoke of households coming to Christ. Remember in 1 Corinthians when he was trying to remember who he baptized and who he didn't. He said, "Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other." (1 Corinthians 1:16)

Wait a minute. Don't we believe that people come to Christ one at a time? A father cannot make a decision for a son, or can a wife make a decision for a husband. Salvation is personal, right?

Absolutely! There is no such thing as mass evangelism-people are all saved one at a time, but often their salvations are clustered together. As was the case with Noah, Cornelius, Lydia, Crispus and Stephanas. Their household was saved-it is part of the "mystery of godliness," that

Christ is "believed on in the world."

I learned to love baseball sitting beside my father at a baseball diamond. My boys have learned to love baseball sitting between Susan and me at the ball park. Though I decided to love the game on my own, the fact that we spent every Saturday at the baseball park made it easier to love.

Yes, every person must make their own faith-decision, but is easier to make that decision in a household of faith. We know that children of alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholics themselves and that those who were abused as children are more like to abuse children when they grow up. Our parents do influence our choices.

I'm sure Paul would have rather not been beaten that day. I'm confident that he'd rather have been in a warm bed instead of sitting on a cold floor. 

And I'm also sure that he wouldn't have traded a suite at the finest hotel for the opportunity to watch the Roman guard, and his family come to faith in Christ.

The jailer came to know Christ because of the courageous witness of one he was guarding. The jailer and his whole household.

Have you ever considered that the decisions you make today will effect your family for generations to come? What kind of a faith-legacy are you building for your children?

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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