A Study Of Acts 16:30-31

In this chapter of Acts 16 the missionaries Paul and Silas were in Philippi, in Macedonia, where they were shamefully treated. They were stripped of their clothes, they were whipped, and they were put in prison and their feet fastened in chains. Then at midnight there was a great earthquake, which caused all the prison doors to be opened, and all the chains that held the prisoners were suddenly loosed.

You know what causes earthquakes?

Scientists explain it this way: Great masses of earth, which they call “tectonic plates”, are bumping and sliding against each other, and are causing volcanoes and earthquakes. The scientists are focusing entirely on the outward phenomena, the symptoms, and they like to forget the Source of all these symptoms, and that is God. It is God who created this earth, with all its complexities, and it is God who causes earthquakes to occur whenever He wants an earthquake to occur. We know: Nothing in this world occurs outside His control.

And here in Acts 16, God caused this great earthquake in Philippi so that all the prison doors were opened. The jailor woke up, rushed to the prison, and when he saw that all the doors were open he wanted to kill himself. But Paul called to him and said: “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here”. And then the jailor understood what we already know: That it was God who had caused this great earthquake. Then he came in, trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. Now read verse 30:

Acts 16:30
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

The million-dollar question: What must I DO to be saved from the Wrath of God?

Is there anything I can DO to make restitution for my sins, so that I do not come under the Wrath of God?

Acts 16:31
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

That is the title of the Sermon for today: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, is there something that WE can DO to make restitution for our sins?

Now, WE have read other parts in the Bible, and WE know that there is nothing that WE can DO to repair our sins. Salvation is by Grace alone, “not of works, lest any man should boast.”

What are works?

Work is anything that we must DO.

Why then did the Apostle Paul answer the jailor as if there was something he could DO to be saved?

Was this the wrong answer?

No!

God does not give us wrong answers in the Bible. But to understand the answer I would like us to focus today on “The Law and Grace”. Take Acts 16:31 as an example:

Acts 16:31
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

The first part of this verse reads like a command: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” That is indeed a command from God that goes out through the entire world. That is the Law: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” That is what we are required to DO. And then the second part of this verse says: And thou shalt be saved, and thy house. That is Grace.

What is Grace?

It is the Gift of God that we are righteous in His sight. We can only believe if the Grace of God gave us this faith. Salvation is by Grace alone, “not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, this explanation of verse 31 is not immediately evident, but that is how God wrote the Bible. We see this again, for example, in John, chapter 10.

John 10:24
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

John 10:25
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

John 10:26
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

You see, very plainly the Lord Jesus says: “I told you, and ye believed not.”
Jesus gave them the Law: The command was plain. In John 8:24 Jesus said to the Jews:

John 8:24
If ye believe not that I am,
ye shall die in your sins.

But why did they not believe?

Jesus said: “because ye are not of My sheep.” You cannot believe unless you are one of My sheep. Now Jesus tells them about Grace: Only if you are one of My sheep will you receive the Grace to believe and be saved. Read on in Verse 27:

John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (This is Grace)

John 10:28
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (This is Grace)

John 10:29
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:30
I and my Father are one.

Now, the remainder of this chapter continues to focus on:

The Law and Grace (John 10:31-38)

John 10:31
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

John 10:32
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

John 10:33
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

John 10:34
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

John 10:35
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

John 10:36
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

John 10:37
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

John 10:38
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.” This proves that these Jews had no difficulty understanding the words of Jesus; but they did not believe Him. They instantly recognized that Jesus had claimed absolute equality with the Father, and to their ears this was blasphemy. They could not obey the command: to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This Law they did not obey.

Who could imagine that any heart would be so base and so cruel, as to arm themselves with the instruments of death against this Person speaking such gracious words?

And yet, we see these Jews doing just that, within the sacred boundaries of the Temple. They hated Him!

Why did Cain hate Abel?

“Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

Why did the Jews hate the Lord Jesus Christ?

Jesus said: “Because I testify that their works are evil.” And in the same measure, the unbelievers will hate the Saints. The Lord Jesus said: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

Could the Jews have known that Jesus spoke the truth?

Yes they could. Jesus said:
“Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?”

They could look at His perfect life, or His gracious deeds in ministering to others, or they could think of the wondrous words that He spoke, as never man had spoken. Jesus called these works as coming “from the Father”. They had been done by the Father’s authority and command.

Romans 8:7
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

This principle was fully evident when God incarnate appeared in the midst of them. Already since His first Sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth they wanted to kill Him. And from that point onwards to the Cross, He was hounded by His enemies who thirsted for His blood. What an amazing patience of Christ to endure such rebellion of sinners against Himself. But, you see, that is where the Grace of God comes in. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. When He finally went to the Cross, all the sheep that He had to find, during those 3½ years of ministry, had been found and were safe in His hand. And all the sheep who still had to be found were also taken care of at the Cross. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord.
Now, let’s see how Jesus answered the accusation of the Jews about blasphemy:

John 10:34
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, “I said, Ye are gods”?

The Lord Jesus is quoting here from Psalm 82. When the Bible speaks about The Law, it does not always refer to the Ten Commandments, and it does not always refer to the five Scroll of Moses. We must let the context define what it means. And here the Lord Jesus says Psalm 82 is also the Law: It is also the Word of God. (Psalm 82:1-7)

Psalm 82 is addressing the Jewish magistrates, those who have been appointed rulers of the Jews:

Psalm 82:1
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

Psalm 82:2
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

God says in Verse 1 that He stands in the midst of those rulers, who have been commissioned by God to this responsible position. It is God who raises kings, and it is God who puts down kings, and this applies to judges as well. They are appointed to judge for God, in the place of God. And God will in turn bring down Judgment on the unjust judges. In Verse 2 God accuses the unjust judges of their wickedness.

But notice how God addresses those magistrates: He called them “gods”, with a little g, because they were appointed to judge for God, in the place of God. Again God says in Verse 6:

Psalm 82:6
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Psalm 82:7
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

You are like gods here on this earth, but your body shall die like all the other men. Only on this earth do you bear this illustrious title.

John 10:34
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

John 10:35
If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

John 10:36
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

Jesus’ answer goes as follows: “If in a Book, which you admit to be of Divine authority, and all whose expressions are perfectly faultless, men which have received a Divine assignment to administer justice to the people of God are called “gods”, and sons of the Highest; is it not ridiculous to bring against The One who received a higher commission than they, and who presented far more evidence of His commission, a charge of blasphemy, because He calls Himself the Son of God? You do not dare to charge blasphemy on the Psalmist; why do you charge it on Me? Your magistrates are called sons of God, and may not your Messiah claim the same title? You are absolutely inconsistent.”

You have heard from the Law, but now look also at the Grace of God who has been so gracious to send Messiah down to earth. Moreover, Jesus said:

I have shown you many good works (John 10:32, 37-38)

John 10:32
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

In the words of Nicodemus: “No man can do these miracles, except God be with Him.”
The Lord Jesus says: These good works have been done “from My Father”. He is the One who authorized it, and commanded it, and approved it, so that Jesus could say at the end of His ministry: “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” Then in Verses 37 and 38 Jesus said:

John 10:37
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

John 10:38
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Paraphrased the Lord Jesus says: “I have declared to you that I and the Father are One. I do not ask you to believe this only on My testimony, but I do call on you to believe on My testimony, supported by the miracles I have performed. These are works, which none other than a Divine Power could accomplish. These works are the voice of God, and they speak plainly and not in dark sayings. If you refuse to receive the doctrine that I and the Father are One, if you refuse to believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him, then you also contradict the Father’s testimony through all these miracles, and you are calling Him a liar.”

The command goes out: “Believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” This is the command from the Law of God.

The Jews saw the miracles, they heard the command to believe, but who is there to believe?

In spite of all the evidence, NONE will believe.

God says: “There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God.”

Why would they not believe after seeing the miracles that Jesus did?

Because miracles do not induce faith in Christ. When the Lord Jesus gave the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, He ended with these famous words from:

Luke 16:31
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

This is the sad state of mankind. No earthly evidence of any kind will be convincing enough to lead anyone to salvation. NONE! Not even the Law of God. Only the Grace of God is able to bring someone to Salvation. That is why we can only be saved BY GRACE, and “not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Paraphrased the Lord Jesus said:

“Look at My Life, My Words and My Works”

The Lord Jesus said in:

John 10:37
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

John 10:38
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

We already know what most of the Jews saw: They saw nothing that was convincing them. But now ask ourselves the question:

What do WE see when WE look at the life of the Lord Jesus, and read His Words, and read about His Works?

What do WE see?

Do we see a Jesus who worked ceaselessly day and night for 3½ years, trying to convince the Jews to believe on Him, but He was not very successful because most of them rejected Him?

Is that how you see Jesus?

I hope not, because that is not the Jesus from the Bible; that is another jesus.

The Jesus I know from the Bible is Himself God.

And how could God be “trying” to accomplish something?

He does it, or He does it not; but He is not “trying”.

How could God be “unsuccessful” in anything?

He couldn’t!

The Jesus I know finished everything He wanted to accomplish, with all Godly perfection. It is true that most of the Jews did not believe on Him; but He saved His sheep whom He wanted to save out from that nasty sheepfold. He was not a victim; He was a victorious Shepherd.

What is the first thing I see and think of when I look at His life?

I see the Good Shepherd who said: “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” He gave His life not for everyone in the world, but for the many who are His sheep.

What is the first thing I think of when I remember His Words?

I think of the Good Shepherd who said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What is the first thing I remember when I think of His Works?

I think of the Good Shepherd who did not run away, but gave His life for His sheep:

2 Corinthians 5:21
“For He (God) hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

And so, we can look at His life, and His Words, and His Works, and we are filled with praise and adoration for such a wonderful Savior as He is. But be careful now. Ask yourself: Is this just an academic knowledge of Jesus, or do you indeed know Him, and does He indeed know you?

Has God really poured His Grace on you?

When we read: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”, what does that mean?

Does this mean that our life must reflect that we are more and more Christ like?

Yes it does!

Does this mean that we can say to the world: Look at my life, my words, and my works?

Yes it does!

Does this mean that we may not bear His name in vain?

Yes it does!

If we are called “Christian”, we are called by His Name, because Christian means: Of the family of Christ.
If God’s Grace has indeed been poured upon us, then we will become more and more Christ-like.
If God’s Grace has indeed been poured upon us, then we will not be ashamed to say: Look at my life, my words and my works, because the fragrance of Christ is seen in us.

God’s Grace is given to many

The Lord Jesus Christ radiated this fragrance, and many were attracted to Him.

John 10:39
Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,

John 10:40
And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. (There He stayed, till the appointed time for Him to be the Lamb of God.)

John 10:41
And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

John 10:42
And many believed on him there.

Jesus withdrew Himself from the Jews; He went to the land of the Gentiles, on the East side of the Jordan River. God gave us this picture to indicate that Jesus’ public ministry to the Jews was now over. Christ was now “outside the camp”. He was despised and rejected, except in this place where many believed on Him. Here, beyond the Jordan, He performed no public miracle, like He does not today. But many believed on Him there because of the Word that was spoken. And so it is now.
Many believe on Him now, not because of any miracles, but because of the Word of God that is proclaimed in bringing sinners to repentance and in bringing them to Jesus.

Are we also followers of Jesus?

Then perhaps we should know why Jesus went to the place where John at first baptized.

What was the message that John the Baptist proclaimed?

He said: “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” What was the message that Jesus brought when John was put in prison?

Mark 1:14
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Mark 1:15
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Now, at the end of His ministry, the Lord Jesus went back to the place where He preached the Gospel in the beginning of His ministry. We have no record of the words He preached at that time, but there is a strong intimation there that Repentance was high on the list of things that He spoke about. In fact, the Lord Jesus said several times: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Today there are many people who believe that they can put repentance on the backburner. But if God’s Grace really has been poured upon us, if we really have been saved, if Jesus really has saved us from our sins, then repentance is one of the real evidences of our salvation.

Have you been a thief, steal no more. Have you been a sex offender, stop that behavior. Have you been a Sabbath breaker, stop being so negligent; buy an alarm clock. And so on.

Repentance is evidence that God’s Grace is at work in us. We must take repentance seriously.

How can we say that we love God, if the truth is that we really love our sin more than Him?

How can we face the Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day if we still have an unrepentant attitude?

And how can we say that we love God whom we have not seen, if we don’t love our brother in Christ whom we have seen?

Did you know that sheep live in flocks?

Just like sheep live together, so Christians flock together. The nature of a child of God is to fellowship with other believers, who are of the same mind. A Christian does not wander off and stay in isolation like a hermit. That is not the nature of a child of God.
We belong to each other because we love each other.

How can anyone say that we don’t love our brother in Christ whom we have seen, and still claim that we love God whom we have not seen?

That is why we come together here on Sunday mornings, and on Sunday evenings. If the Grace of God has done its work in us, then God has created in us a need for each other.

Examine yourselves: Are we really attracted to each other, like sheep who abide in flocks?
Is our love for one another evident?

Review of John 10

Since we have come to the end of chapter 10 in the Gospel according to John, I would like to summarize what we have learned during these four Sermons from this chapter. First of all:

The Law: Look at the Pharisees.

The Pharisees had cast out the man who was born blind. This man was one of Jesus’ sheep.

What is a Pharisee?

A Pharisee is someone who trusts in himself. You can clearly see it in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18. A Pharisee is under the Law, and he trusts that keeping the Law saves him from the wrath of God. The Pharisee does not need Jesus.

We should have been called Pharisees before we were saved. But by the Grace of God we have learned from the Law that we are sinners, under the wrath of God, and that we need a Savior. That is where Mercy comes in.

Mercy: The sheep and the Good Shepherd

What is Mercy?

God has Mercy on us when He is withholding what we do deserve. We deserve Hell. For example, let’s consider the man who was blind from birth. He believed Jesus and became saved, because he was one of Jesus’ sheep. God had mercy on him. On the other hand, the Pharisees believed not, because they were not of Jesus’ sheep. They receive what they deserve.

God, in His infinite wisdom, had predestined unto salvation this man who was blind from birth. But, in order to save him from Hell, the Lord Jesus Christ had to come down to earth, to be the Good Shepherd who gave his life and endured Hell in the place of this man, and in the place of everyone whom God had predestined unto salvation from before the foundation of the world.
Grace: They will hear and receive eternal life

What is Grace?

Grace is receiving the gift of Righteousness, which we do not deserve. The Lord Jesus promised: “My sheep hear My voice”. We will hear His voice and follow Him, because the Lord Jesus Christ fully paid for all our sins on the Cross of Calvary.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.”

The Good Shepherd takes us on His shoulders until we arrive safely in eternity.

By Alfred Chompff

One Comment on “A Study Of Acts 16:30-31

  1. Excellent! Thanks for declaring The Word so childlike. Blessings and Peace.

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