“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.” Acts 16:27
The world has been blinded to the Truth of the gospel of peace. They do not see with spiritual eyes. Their lives (as were our own prior to salvation) are lived in the flesh. It is God Who draws men to Himself, and we see how here in the book of Acts.
Paul and Silas had come to Philippi to preach the gospel, and had found some small support amongst local converts, but when Paul took spiritual command over a demon, casting it out in Christ’s Name, some people were extremely upset. They had him and Silas beaten and imprisoned. Well, the two missionaries knew God had led them there, so what did they do, bound in stocks and chains and in prison? They sang worship songs, hymns, to God, giving The Lord glory and praise! They were living in faith that this was where God had them and that He had their back. So, God gives them an earthquake that releases them and all those around them from their bonds.
This earthquake awakens the jailer, and what does he do? He sees the open cells, and allows what his sight tells him to be true and assumes the prisoners have all escaped. This train of thought continues in that if that is true, then he may as well kill himself before being killed by the magistrate. So, he lives by sight as he draws his sword to follow through. This is why the Word says that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Cor 5:7) If we were to continue to walk by sight (that is live our lives through the flesh), we would be heading toward destruction. We are saved and justified in Christ Jesus, however, and so we must live our lives in the Spirit, by faith.
God uses this moment to draw the jailer to Himself. As the sword is drawn, Paul speaks up and says the jailer shouldn’t harm himself, for the prisoners were all still there. The jailer calls for a light and enters into the cell with it to be able to see with his own eyes this truth. He is trembling as he draws Paul and Silas out and asks of them how to be saved. God used Paul and Silas as witnesses of lives without fear of man. They had been worshiping God and a great earthquake struck and freed everyone, yet no one fled, not Paul, not Silas, not any other prisoner. All remained, and were yet silenced after the quake, for they probably feared the Lord’s wrath upon them, identifying the apostle’s singing with the God Who brought the quake. This silence was used to contribute to the jailer’s fear. Paul spoke up to stop him from following through. The jailer was saved by the God, Who drew him in. Not long ago, I recall a moment where something similar happened in my own walk.
The coffee shop I frequent is owned by a wonderful Christian couple who have a son they employ there. I had been coming for a while regularly, reading my Bible, praying before The Lord being thankful for my coffee, or food, I had ordered, and for those in the coffee shop. I was simply living out my faith, being faithful to The Lord, Who continues to bless me in various ways. One day, their son approached me, and having never had a real conversation with one another, he says that he wants me to know what an inspiration I had been to him. He saw me always praying as I studied the Word, and before consuming my order, regardless of who was there. He had noticed I was respectful of others, yet willing to share openly my faith. He said watching me had inspired him to begin again to pray where he had not for a long time. I thanked him, awed by God using me to witness to him without even knowing it. I gave God all the glory, saying that all I was doing was following Him, getting to know God better, and that was all a work of the Spirit within me.
This young man is a child of God, raised in a loving, Christian home, yet he could readily admit he had not been walking as he should. Of course, I knew nothing of this, and I had not approached him about Jesus at all. All I did was simply stand in my faith, and tried to live it out. The young man saw that, and God used it to draw him closer to Himself.
You see, The Lord asks of us only one thing: that is to believe. If we believe, we then will be able to receive God’s Love, and in doing so, be equipped to return that Love to Him and to others, fulfilling the two commandments He gave us. Everything else follows from there. If we love others as ourselves, we will follow the old Law of Moses, because those commandments are based upon the two we now have. All of the fruits of the Spirit are due to the work He does within us, as we surrender to Him, loving Him and others, and living in His Will. All of this is by faith. Which is why we walk by this faith He has authored within us, and no longer by the sight of the world.
We may never actually know who has been affected, or continues to be affected, by our testimony as we live it out before them. It may be that third party who listens over the book shelf at the book store. It could be a brother or sister at church who knows our personal trial and yet sees us consistently coming to church and engaging and encouraging others. It can be the pastor who knows our obedience and is encouraged in his own walk. It could be anyone.
Walk by faith, not by sight, and let God be God. Be still from all of the activity of effort and know Who is God. It’s not us. It’s Him. Glory to God! Hallelujah! Praise The Lord! He’ll do the work. We just need to have faith, believe, and walk in it.