The Gift Pt 5: Rejoice: A Response, A Duty, A Witness.
Pr Edi Giudetti
There is a wonderful and logical simplicity to the nature of The Gift that should in every way cause us all to rejoice and to do as commanded in the Bible, to “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thess 5:16).
For so long we have tried to save ourselves, so long we’ve been burdened by the fear of death, for so long we have been concerned with regards to what happens after death and now suddenly before us is The Gift laid open, laid bare, given to us simply because we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have witnessed;
- God the father, the Gift Bearer, who gives to us salvation, eternal life.
- God The Holy Spirit, the Gift Sealer, who seals and guarantees our salvation as secured by him.
- God The Son, the Gift Procurer, who purchased redemption for us by his death and through the shedding of his precious blood.
In this trinity is found the single most precious joy for all of mankind, in this triunity of hope is found the single hope for the world, in this ‘three in one’ God demonstrates how he so loved the world.
But we also witnessed last week that there is a frightening concern for man who may have believed themselves to be recipients of The Gift, but are “none of his” (Rom 8:9). Many who will say in that day Lord, Lord, but will hear the response “I never knew you, depart from me…” (Matt 7:23). This, I pray you have addressed before the Lord in the last week. I pray you have sought him diligently to make your calling and election sure(2 Pet 1:10), that you have examined yourselves whether ye be in the faith (2 Cor 13:5)
None that you know that you know your salvation is secured in him, today we will come to what our permanent response should be, not only as an emotional feeling that comes and goes, but as a duty for our joy and witness.
When you think that from the day you have believed the Gospel, you no longer ever need to fear death; when death is no longer YOUR enemy, but swallowed up in victory; when the worst thing that could ever have happened to you before you were saved, is now turned about to become the event that finally sees you in Glory; how can you not rejoice?
When you FULLY come to terms with this eternal hope that you have, Given by God the Father, Secured by God the Holy Ghost, and purchased by God the Son, how can you not remind yourself of this every day and simply rejoice with exceeding great joy?
Here we have a gift that has been given you about which there is simply nothing in this world that can ever compare, it is so incredible that words don’t seem to have the ability to describe it.
This is acknowledged in the Bible;
1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Those things yet to be seen, but fully to be expected, those things that are identified and spoken about in the Bible as our inheritance, are so wonderful that they are simply indescribable. Can you even begin to fathom the most incredible joy that should stem from the knowledge of our salvation?
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
This morning we will discover that our rejoicing in this salvation is both a response, a duty, and a witness.
Let’s now give some consideration to our text.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27 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. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
Witness Rejoicing In Salvation
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
This truly is one of the most incredible accounts in the bible of the impact of the witness of those rejoicing in their salvation.
Now Paul had already been sometime saved. His rejoicing in song while here in this prison was not based on an recent conversion to the hope of Christ. Acts 15 shows his coming to Jerusalem with Barnabas, Galatians 2 Paul testifies to this time being some fourteen years after he had been in Jerusalem the first time (Gal 2:1), which was some three years after his conversion (Gal 1:18). So, it is fair to say that this event in Acts 16 occurred during Paul’s second missionary Journey, with the setting in Macedonia, in the City of Philippi (Acts 16:12).
Paul now almost two decades a Christian.
I make this point because Paul is still rejoicing in his salvation some 20 years earlier and far too many Christians today are no longer rejoicing in the salvation and hope that is laid before them after only a short time in the faith.
Paul continues here to be rejoicing in the hope of Christ, he retains his joy, his love for the Lord even during times of great trial; is our rejoicing MORE than a feeling?
Is it first a Response, Then a Duty, Then a witness?
Here he is now, together with Silas.
He had just rebuked a woman with a spirit of divination, casting out the devil from her (Acts 16:18), now that her employers came to see that all home of her profitability to them was gone, they drew them to the magistrates.
They were then beaten, whipped and cast into the inner prison with their feet held fast in the stocks. (v22-24)
That is the setting, that is the scene where we now see these two men, at midnight, praying and singing praises unto God…not quietly, not under their voices, but loud enough for the other prisoners to have heard them (v25).
Now consider for a moment what sort of witness this must have been? I don’t doubt that being beaten is not fun, yet here we see these two men both beaten and flogged and imprisoned…yet praying and singing!
Think of the poor souls who are witnessing this spectacle; have they ever seen such things as this among those without such hope? There they are languishing in prison, the guard outside the bars keeping them tight, and the prisoners hear the songs of hope coming from the voices of two men in recent and present trials.
Now, why should this surprise us? They are witnessing to the reality of their salvation. Man might imprison the body, but their soul is at liberty. They know the worst man can do is kill the body, but they have eternal life.
And they know that God and God alone is in full control of their trials. They know that they are not in prison for doing evil;
Peter wrote saying,
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
1 Peter 2:20
And so it is here. They rejoice knowing that God is in control and if the time of their sojourning here is come to a close and the Lord is please to desire them to come home, then they are pleased to please the Lord.
Beloved, even if they are buffeted for doing well, and the trial of their patience does not see them ushered into glory, that trial still holds for them infinite value, God having a better purpose for them.
Tell me, who but Christians can experience rejoicing such as this?
Did they begin praying and singing to the Lord when a joyful feeling came up, or did it begin with duty first and the feeling following?
Can you see the witness that must be witnessed to others?
Well, we do see that to the prisoners, such was the witness. But there was one other man to whom this singing was witnessed, and we come to this hopeless man now.
Sorrowing In Hopelessness
27 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.
Those in such a lost condition only need one more serious event to occur in their lives before they declare life to be over for them.
It is not necessary that they needed to have endured difficulties in life, in fact suicide is not an act affecting nations with the greatest genuine difficulties, those are all struggling to survive.
No, suicide is an act that sees its evil arise as a first world problem.
It’s the first world that suffers most with alcoholism.
It’s the first world that suffers most with drug addiction.
The first world that is prescribed almost all of the worlds anti-depressants.
The first world that seeks to escape the real world through a diverse number of addictive behaviors. Some of the biggest industries at the moment are in amusements of all kinds (A-Muse = Without Mind).
- The Electronic Gaming industry from the 1970’s to today went from $0 to over $200 Billion dollars per year and has taken almost one third of the worlds population with 2.7 Billion Gamers world wide according to a 2020 statistic.
- The Entertainment Industry has grown to stratospheric levels since its inception in Hollywood in the early 20th century. Today it has taken hold of ¾ of the worlds population, even nations of poverty are given Smart Phones by their governments to ensure they are “all connected”
- According to Josh McDowell’s book, “The Porn Epidemic”, As of 2018, there are over 26 million Porn sites online, representing 2.3 billion web pages within a click. One third of all internet downloads are Pornographic. On ONE SITE ALONE in 2018 there were 91.5 billion video views…that’s 12.5 videos for every man, woman and child on earth in a single year.
A statistic I quoted some time ago presented that nearly half of the first world nations are addicted to some form of vice, something each and every day to help them live life in the present reality.
Sadly, tragically a bewildering and growing number of people who call themselves Christian are suffering in the same way.
Speaking of the last of the last days, in;
Matthew 24:12, Jesus said;
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Well, there lays the underlying problem for both Christians and the world. Sin.
The diagnosis is not a difficult one to make. Anyone who has been saved for any degree of time knows the misery they experience when they permit sin to govern them like it did before their salvation.
Christians can diagnose their misery as they grieve the Spirit of God in them, but the world cannot. The world is blind to their malady and it can take but one more event to tip them over the edge.
The guard in this account desires to live, the only reason for him to have drawn out his sword is the knowledge that should a single prisoner escape with his life, the life of the guard is taken in exchange. Quite a job description. I’m not sure if there would be many responses to a job advertised with this type of entitlement.
Nevertheless, this was the case in the first century Roman Empire.
Now consider the contrast if you will;
Paul and Silas pray and sing not knowing the state of their lives for the morrow. Will they be set free tomorrow or will some injustice take their lives?
They have already experienced beatings and floggings openly, they have already been cast into prison as uncondemned men, how many injustices are they yet to endure is the only question and yet nothing seems to phase them.
Compare that to the prison guard, who for the lack of Paul’s voice calling him to restrain himself, would have sent his own soul into hell for only thinking the prisoners had escaped.
How many are there today who sorrow in such hopelessness?
The jailer was right to sorrow, his case was indeed hopeless if the prisoners had escaped, but look at how quickly he made the decision! Since life was in the balance, you would have thought he would have taken more care to see they HAD escapedbefore drawing his sword.
How many today are doing just that, willing to come to the end of their lives without even seeking after hope? Without seeing if their feelings of hopelessness had any validity to it?
How many CHRISTIANS are experiencing such feelings, when ALL THE EVIDENCE IS TO THE CONTRARY?
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT CHRISTIANS ARE THEMSELVES SORROWING IN HOPELESSNESS TODAY when they have received to themselves the Gift of all gifts?
This is possibly the single most perplexing burden many Christians are experiencing today. Rather than rejoicing in the hope they have, they sorrow as those who have no hope.
If that is you, the first thing you must come to terms with is that you have NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THE FEELING OF HOPELESSNESS.
Unlike the Jailor, your heart has nothing to justify such sorrow. There are reasons you experience this sorrow, and I do not have the opportunity to speak to it in this message, but suffice to say that none of it can be biblically justified if you are born again.
Rejoice Evermore is the command in 1 Thess 5:16, and we will see how the Duty To Rejoice precipitates the feeling.
The jailor on the other hand has reached the depths of his sorrow, not even willing to seek its justification.
Can you justify your sorrow as a child of God? Have you made diligent enquiry as to the reasons you are not rejoicing?
Have you received the Gift?
Do you not therefore have peace with God?
Is your eternity not equally guarded by the Father and the Son, and sealed by that Holy Spirit of Promise?
Then what has taken away the joy of thy salvation?
The Witness Of Hope
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
It is one thing to be praying and singing songs in a prison cell; in a way, people may be justified in thinking these men are deluded giving themselves over to a false hope. Many today talk themselves into thinking they are ok, when they are lost.
But what argument can be made when after such singing, an earthquake occurs that not only opens the prison gate, but loosens the bands that bound them, and they yet remain in their place?
What kind of hope is this?
What sort of witness is this?
How many would NOT have taken the opportunity to escape?
Notice the passage, that it was not only Paul and Silas that remained;
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Beloved, if even one of the prisoners had escaped the jailors life would be forfeited. But they were ALL THERE.
THIS IS THE WITNESS OF HEARTS WHO REJOICE IN HIS SALVATION.
This is the hope that is enquired of, this is the hope that is testified to, this is the hope that lives life more abundantly, knowing that while we are here, we glorify God, and when our time is done, we glorify him when we leave to him.
Look at the effect of such rejoicing in the Lord to those who have no hope.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
What had he witnessed in these men that moved him so greatly? No doubt, together with the prisoners, he too had heard Paul and Silas praying and singing. No doubt he heard the glorious gospel of salvation through devotion and song, but NOW he sees their REJOICING LIVED OUT. And so he “fell down before Paul and Silas”.
What is the witness of your rejoicing in the Lord to others?
Is your rejoicing in the Lord evident to the people around you?
Or, even though you have hope, are you living as those who have no hope?
Which witness do you witness?
The witness of Paul and Silas had an infinite effect upon the life of one man that would be seen to multiply toward his entire family. THIS IS HOW VITAL IT IS TO OVERCOME YOUR TEMPORAL SORROW AND WITNESS TO OTHERS OF YOUR ETERNAL HOPE.
Did you know that rejoicing is a Duty?
5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: 6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: 7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
We see similar in;
Deut 16:11, Ps 33:1, Ps 37:4, Zeph 3:14, Zec 9:9, Lk 10:20, Rom 12:15
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
1 Thessalonians 5:16
16 Rejoice evermore.
Perhaps we need only to be reminded that we who have all reason to rejoice, do so.
Perhaps this is what we need to purposefully undertake in order to stem the swelling tide of sorrow from time to time.
Perhaps it’s our thoughts kept on the Lord that brings us peace and joy.
Have you ever thought the duty must precede the feeling?
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Hearts Rejoicing In Fellowship
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
Now we see the answer to all sorrow,
now we see the gift offered and accepted,
now we see the servant serve those in liberty of soul, who once he only kept in bodies bound.
He is baptized, so too all his house.
He set food for a fellowship before them and together they all rejoiced.
There is nothing I can think of that brings greater joy to the heart of those who have trusted in the Lord, than being witness to another soul saved.
We have a fellowship in the Church. It is one that rejoices in our common salvation, we have joy together because together we love to rejoice in the Lord. Truly, it is the one conversation that I never get tired of speaking about. And there are many in this place that feel just the same way.
In this we know we share in a common hope, our common joy.
But this is not the only thing we share in common.
Turn to 1 Peter 5:6–9
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
We also all have a common adversary, the devil.
Lions always take the least
5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Beloved, we of all the people of the world have Reason to Rejoice, this is the natural response of a Gift that can never be lost or taken away, a treasure Given by God, Secured By God, Procured by God.
We have a DUTY to Rejoice, this is our first obligation and its fulfillment precedes our feeling.
We thereby Witness the Lord in our joy.
Until he comes