Acts 16:25-40 - Hardships - They are not about Us!

Acts 16:25-40 – Hardships - They are not about Us!
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 16:25-40

The title is drawn from Paul and Silas’ response to the suffering and hardship of their circumstances.
The way they respond gives us insight into a "world", or a way a Christian is to face hardship, that is otherwise very hard to understand.
And though this hardship is brought to bear on account of the Gospel, the principals apply to any hardship except that which is self-inflicted.


What were the circumstances of Paul & Silas’ experience?
Verse 19 – seized and dragged to marketplace.
Verse 22 – their clothes were stripped off.
Verse 22 – they were attacked by the mob.
Verse 22 – they were beaten with rods.
Verse 23 – after many blows, they were thrown into prison.
Verse 24 – they were put in stocks that spread their legs to induce additional pain.

What would be an understandable response to these circumstances?
Speculate on how you might respond?


They were praying and singing hymns.
They were not escaping - they stayed in prison.
They spoke the word of the Lord to Jailer and Prisoners.

POI – One thing they didn’t do is ask, “Why me?”
To do so would have made it all about them.
Paul and Silas lived lives that were all about God.


Scriptural descriptions of this world:
2 Corinthians 1:8-9
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

In Paul’s world, circumstances and suffering take there toll, but a full surrender to God is the purpose.
We are to be refined & defined by God and His truth not our circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In Paul’s world, hardships are like empty vessels designed to be filled with Christ’s power.
And so, paradoxically, Paul can say “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God is magnified in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

In Paul’s world, the body and transient are nothing compared to the spiritual and its future glorification.

Romans 8:28-30
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

In Paul’s world, we can be certain that all is for our good because we are in a relationship with a God who predestined us, justified us and glorified us.

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

In Paul’s world, the Holy Spirit is the source of the ability to endure circumstances like Paul and Silas did.

Are we really expected to respond like Paul & Silas – to live in their world?
Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Peter 5:10
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Peter says "after you have suffered" not "if you suffer".
We will face hardship and we should face hardship for the sake of the Gospel.
This lesson is showing us how we are to respond.

POI – In Paul’s world, actions can seem idiotic to the world.
Why did Paul and Silas not tell the magistrates the day before that they were Roman citizens? Because their aim was to advance the Gospel.
Sharing their Roman citizenship would have spared them all the pain and suffering.
In fact, by withholding this info, Paul most have known things weren’t going to be good.

Philippians 1:12-13 – Written from a Roman prison to the very church our verses describe.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

Philippians 2:17
17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Paul’s aim was to glorify God, and as we already have seen, in weakness God is glorified.

One of the hardest things to come terms with as a Christian is that at the moment God opened your heart to hear and receive the Gospel message; the purpose of your life was transformed from being all about you to all about God.
The completely alien nature of this truth becomes the lens through which all our experience is to be filtered, never the other way around!

What is the purpose of your life all about – You, your wife, your kids, your job, your recreation?
What do you live and prepare for?
We are called to surrender all that to God and make Him the purpose of or lives.
We are not called to ignore or deny any suffering as Paul made clear in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
However, our new reality leads us to understand during hardship that we are to “rely on God” which glorifies Him and can even present us with jailers to whom we can speak the word!


Acts 16:1-15 - How the Gospel works

Acts 16:1-15 – How the Gospel works

The title is drawn from an examination of the process of how Paul, who in our text Spoke the Gospel and Responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading, contributed to God Opening the heart of Lydia.


Paul, Silas & Timothy committed to ACTION in their “walk” with Christ:
As Christ had commanded, sharing the Gospel was of primary concern.
Their commitment to this command to share Gospel is reflected in their actions.
Circumcised him – verse 3
Went on their way – verse 4
Went through the region – verse 6
Had come up to Mysia – Verse 7
Attempted to go – Verse 7
Passing by Mysia – Verse 8
Went down to Troas – Verse 8
Immediately we sought to go – Verse 10
Setting Sail – Verse 11
From there to Philippi – Verse 12
Remained in the city – Verse 12
Went outside the gate – Verse 13
Sat down and spoke – Verse 13

Their commitment to action was guided by their RESPONSIVENESS to the Holy Spirit:
Acts 16:6-10
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, • urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10a And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go…

Both our obedience in action and our responsiveness to the Holy Spirit are an indicator of the maturity of our faith.
The more we excel, personally, in all of the Biblical Unity principals the more action and responsiveness we have.


We are called to speak the Gospel:
Acts 16:10
10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The New Testament is clear that communicating the Gospel requires speaking it (Matt 28:19)…preaching it is speaking it!
This command is fulfilled by communicating the Gospel in words – this is not a command to lifestyle evangelism.
1st Peter 1:23,25 – since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God...this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Or as John Piper puts it, “the seed that God uses to create new life in spiritually dead, unbelieving hearts is the seed of the word of God.”

Some examples of this speaking:
Luke 9:6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Acts 8:25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
Acts 8:40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 14:21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
Rom 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Rom 15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
1 Cor 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
2 Cor 2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord,
2 Cor 8:18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.
2 Cor 10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.
Gal 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Paul’s sermon in Ch. 13)


Acts 16:14
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

All we must do is speak, but the sinner must hear with faith:
Galatians 3:2 – Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith
Romans 10:17 – Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ
We are told that Lydia heard the Gospel.
Why did she hear it when so many in Paul’s journeys had not "heard" it.

The hearing is in God’s hands:
Lydia’s ability to hear the Gospel was linked to God’s opening her heart, “…the Lord opened her heart to pay attention…”
God’s role in this process is made all the more evident in the following verse.
1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…
Why would anyone believe in something that is foolishness to them?
Clearly, God’s involvement in the opening of the heart has something to do with it.
God’s power seems to enable the deaf and folly minded to hear the truth.

An example of Christ’s power to give hearing to the deaf:
Mark 7:32-35
32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.
33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
This “opened” is the same “opening” that Lydia experienced.
Not only is it the same word, literally, but it is what she experienced spiritually.
She, like all of us, was deaf to the truth of the Gospel and could not speak the Gospel in truth.
Christ opened her heart so that she could hear the truth (and respond with belief) and speak the truth.

POI - This opening of our hearts/ears is what we also call being born again!
1 John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…
If your heart has been opened to believe or “hear” the Gospel, you have been born again or “born of God.”
And it began with a Paul in your life who OBEYED, RESPONDED TO GOD’S DIRECTION and SPOKE the Gospel to you.

John Piper describes the process as follows:
God causes the new birth through the seed of the word, the Gospel.
God brings about the new birth through your telling people the Gospel.
God regenerates people through the news about who Christ is and what he has done on the cross and in the resurrection.

POI – Luke 24:45 – Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
It is the power of God that even allows believers gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.

That the hearing is in God’s hand is great news for us:
It should take all the pressure off of us to “close the deal.”
1 Cor 1:17 – For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Paul tells us the power of the Gospel is not in our words but in Christ!

And so we have come full circle.
We are to Speak the Gospel because it and only it is the seed.
Our lifestyle will save no one; it is not the seed.
We have to speak the Gospel; we have to evangelize with God’s abiding word and good news.
And then pray that God would give hearing ears and open hearts to those with whom we have shared.


Acts 15 - Doctrine of the Church - Implications for Acts 15 & Us

This lesson takes what we have learned about the Purpose of the Church, Biblical Unity and Church Purity and uncovers the implications they have for Acts 15 and Us.


The 3 main threats to Biblical Unity and Purity in Acts 15 were:
The Judaizer Problem – The Pharisee Believer Concern – The Separation of Paul and Barnabas
To discover how all we have learned relates to Acts 15, the first question to ask is this:
1) Is the disagreement a fundamental, doctrinal one?
If we determine it is, then for the sake of true Biblical Unity and Church Purity, our only course of action is hold our ground and confront.

Judazier Problem:
Was the Judaizer Problem a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? Yes.
They were attempting to corrupt the very nature of Salvation.
What Biblical Unity/Church Purity principals were being compromised?
How did Paul and Barnabas respond to it?
They emphasized the differences between them and the Judaizers (they did not forsake purity for a worldly unity) and in so doing maintained both Biblical Unity and Church Purity.
What BU/CP principals were necessary for Paul to formulate his response?

Pharisee Believer Concern:
Was the Pharisee Believer Concern a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? No.
However, their concern did reveal a resistance to the truths of Scripture as fulfilled in Jesus (they were still on milk).
What BU/CP principals were they falling short in?
So, in this case, the next questions to be asked are:
2) Will opposition make the church more pure and/or Biblically Unified?
So, would opposing the Pharisee Believer Concern make the church more pure and/or Biblically Unified? Yes.
Obviously, if all those concerned would have submitted to the freedom available in Christ, the Church would have been all that more Pure and the agreement that this freedom is real would have made the church all that more Biblically Unified.
But, we know that Paul did not ultimately object to the compromise made to the concern of the Pharisee Believers.
So we must ask an additional question to choose the best course of action:
3) Will opposition forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God?
So, would opposing the Pharisee Believer Concern forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God? Yes.
Paul was faced with the dilemma of either forsaking a little Purity and Biblical Unity or the work of God and Gospel.
So what was Paul’s response to their concern (& James letter addressing their concern) and his dilemma?
Paul knew opposition would hinder his and his associate’s ability to share the Gospel with Jews.
So, in my opinion, Paul knew their thinking to be wrong, but did not fight it because the issue was not a fundamental one and fighting it would hurt the work of God and inhibit spreading the Gospel among the Jews.
What BU/CP principals was Paul exercising in coming to this decision?

Paul & Barnabas Separation:
Was the Separation of Paul and Barnabas a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? No.
Would Paul’s opposition to bringing John Mark make the church more pure or Biblically Unified? Maybe, but the question may not be applicable in this situation.
Would Paul’s opposition to Barnabas forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God? Yes…Paul thought so.
Paul obviously felt, based on his experience, that John Mark might hinder the work of God and the Gospel.
John Mark had already proven himself unreliable.
Paul’s mind was set upon the Gospel and new churches and not on himself.
So what BU/CP principals was Paul was exercising?
Paul’s opposition to Barnabas, his good friend, no doubt caused some awkwardness.
He did not let that cloud his judgment; preventing him from doing what he though was right.
Paul, as a result of his decision, also had a successful 2nd missionary journey and began what would prove to be a strategic alliance with Silas.

What BU/CP principals was Barnabas exercising?
It could also be said that Barnabas’ mind was also apparently set on the same things as Paul’s, but he also set his mind on John Mark for better or for worse.
Barnabas stuck his neck out for Paul and was right on, and he obviously was ultimately right with John Mark.

Were any BU/CP principals ignored by either Paul or Barnabas?
No to 1; no to 2; and maybe 3 for Barnabas because he did not submit to the authority of Paul.
And maybe number 3 for Paul because he was so impatient with John Mark.
And maybe 5 for Paul, if he let his concern for the new churches override a responsibility to build up John Mark.
And maybe 5 for Barnabas, if he let his relationship with John Mark cloud his judgment.

So, ultimately, Paul and Barnabas’ disagreement may not really be a Biblical Unity or Church Purity concern.
However, the same BU/CP principals still apply because, we as individuals, determine with our own behavior the degree to which our church has Biblical Unity and Church Purity.
Paul and Barnabas were in complete agreement that another journey was needed.
The disagreement was on how to most effectively do the job – not really the worst kind of agreement to have.


Example 1 from Newsweek Article on Biblically Supported Gay Marriage: http://www.newsweek.com/id/172653

Article subtitle reads, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”
“Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history…A mature view of Scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.” – Lisa Miller

Visit http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=2881 for additional info.

Example 2 from The Virginia Pilot:

Summary of Previous Lessons used to answer above questions:

1 Corinthians 9:23 – “I do it all for the sake of the Gospel.”
Romans 14:20 – “Do not…destroy the work of God.”

1) Knowing the things of God – Jesus, Gospel, Scripture, Doctrine, etc.
2) Using your gifts to equip the saints and build up the body – there is no sitting on the sidelines.
3) Considering others more important than you – Humility.
4) Setting your mind on others and Christ not on you, the flesh and the world.
5) Having a mind so mingled with Christ that we can make God-honoring, reasonable and objective judgments rooted in Christ and not be clouded by the issue or relationship we are tangled up in, thereby making poor judgments.

1) Biblical Doctrine & Right Preaching of the Word
2) Proper Use of Ordinances
3) Right Use of Church Discipline
4) Genuine Worship
5) Effective Prayer
6) Effective Witness
7) Biblical Church Government
8) Spiritual Power in Ministry
9) Personal Holiness of Members
10) Care for Poor
11) Love for Christ