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Response: Believed on in the World
Acts 16:25-34 NASB
about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise
to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;  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.  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.  But Paul cried
out with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!"
 And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he
fell down before Paul and Silas,  and after he brought them out, he
said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  And they said, "Believe
in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." 
And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in
his house.  And he took them that very hour of the night and washed
their wounds, and immediately
he was baptized, he and all his household.  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:
there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."  How can we sing the Lord's song
In a foreign land? (Psalms
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
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;  and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved,
you and all your household."
The same is true with Lydia-her
entire household was saved
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.  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
When God saved Crispus, the
leader of the synagogue, He didn't just save him, God saved his entire
"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."
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
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,
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
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
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?