Beloved, our passage this morning presents a tale of two cities – Paul’s missionary outreach to Thessalonica and to Berea. As always, he meets with a variety of responses to the presentation of the gospel message – some positive, but the majority negative. It is instructive to see the contrast in the way Luke records what took place in these two cities.
This tale of two cities is a tale of truth versus tradition. The big idea here is that our response to the gospel reflects our value system. Do we have a passion for the truth of God’s Word or are we jealous for the security of man’s traditions?
Beloved, we live in a world turned upside down by sin and as a Christian it is our responsibility to help turn it right side up. This will take courage so that the content of the Gospel will bring converts, which always brings conflict.
As believers, we don’t run from conflict but hit it head on with God’s grace. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Beloved, the world is lost and needs desperately your help. Will you help turn it right side up?
Beloved, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ still living in bondage to sin, you need to open your eyes and see that the chains have fallen off. God delights to use simple object lessons and we have one of those clear pictures in our passage today. This passage is about the divine deliverance of Paul and Silas from the chains of prison in Philippi. But it is also about much more than that. For you see that the cry of the Philippian jailor is “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
As you recall your own salvation, what type of chains fell off your life? Maybe there were chains of anger or fear. Certainly, there were chains of selfishness and pride that prevented you from relating to God and to others around you in the type of love Christ came to demonstrate to us. But even though we have been delivered once for all in a positional sense from sin and from Satan and from the value system of the world around us we still struggle with fully experiencing that deliverance. This passage reminds us of the power of God and should encourage us to go out from the prison of sin rejoicing in the sufficiency of our salvation. That should be the testimony of all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
The all-powerful God delivers believers from the shackles of Satan and sin. Chains be broken!
Beloved, are you as appalled as I am at the amount of profiteering surrounding false religion in our day? Just look at the false teachers who tickle the ears of their vast followers on TV, radio, or the WEB. Follow the money stream; examine their extravagant lifestyles and you will see that they have nothing in common with those who offer the unadulterated gospel message from pure motives of serving the Lord.
But today’s spiritual trafficking is nothing new. Go back in history and look at Martin Luther's complaints against the Roman Catholic Church. Look at how he exposed the church, which took advantage of its people's faith for monetary gain – through the practice of the selling of indulgences.
Yet, as we know there is nothing new under the sun. In today’s study we look at some spiritual trafficking, which occurred on Paul’s second missionary journey while in Philippi. In this instance, a young slave girl was used by her owners (pimps) for, not the sex trade, but the religious trade.
Beloved, there can be no peaceful co-existing with false religions and their greedy exploitation, no tolerance of demonic religious superstitions with their false promises and false hopes. Jesus Christ and Gospel must stand alone!
Beloved, Lydia represents a beautiful example of a heart responding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She sold a luxurious product of the color purple only to come into contact with the King of Kings, the only one rightfully bestowed to wear the royal color.
When it comes to salvation, we must remember that hearts are closed to the
gospel, incapable of responding on their own. We must remember that minds are blinded to the gospel; hence human reason cannot rescue anyone. Also we must remember that the will is enslaved to sin; in bondage; therefore self-help programs are doomed to failure.
In general, people are spiritually dead, separated from God, and enemies of God. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is able to open the heart of the lost. Because God loved Lydia and desired her to be saved, He closed doors for Paul in Galatia and brought him to Philippi. Paul was then able to preach the Gospel down by the river and Lydia responded. I love how the Lord works all things
together for good to bring us to Himself!