Center Point Bible Study is excited to be back meeting in the Fellowship Hall from 6:46 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.. This study is open to anyone who would like to take part! We love you all dearly and look forward to the time when we can be together again!  Pastor ColinBuck Mills, and Jim Conaway facilitate this Life Group. The New Creations Children’s Life Group also meets during this time for children 2 years old through 5th grade. CDC protocols are in place and masks are required for the children and adults.

The notes for the Center Point Study will be posted every Wednesday below with a link to the archived notes here, Center Point Archive

We encourage everyone to dig into God’s Word together and share what the Lord is teaching them. 

We endeavor to journey chronologically through the Book of Acts and read Paul’s Epistles as they fit into the narrative. We are currently going through the Letter to the Galatians.

This study is open to anyone who would like to take part! We love you all dearly and look forward to the time when we can be together again!

Pastor Colin, Buck Mills, and Jim Conaway facilitate this Life Group.


NOTES FOR CENTER POINT BIBLE STUDY

January 13, 2021

Buck Mills, Teaching Team

Praise to God – Hallelujah

   Acts 16:25-34 (ESV)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to 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 everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Verse 25:  What would cause someone who was beaten and thrown into prison to sing hymns rather than lament their situation?

Notice that this occurs around midnight. Midnight is often referred to as the darkest time of the night, which may also elicit the greatest fear. This is also a time when most of us are sound asleep. Yet, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The prisoners must have thought that they were not in their right mind and may have even been somewhat annoyed. 

Psalm 119:62 (ESV)

At midnight I rise to praise you,
    because of your righteous rules.

A thankful heart drives out fear and makes room for praise. Thanksgiving turns night into day and consecrates all hours to the worship of God. It may be easy to praise God during the day when things are easy and everyone is watching, but at night when fear creeps in and one is alone the motivation and posture of the heart is tested.

The phrase “singing hymns”, Halal, used in Matt 26:30 and Mark 14:26 denotes the Paschal hymn sung by Jesus and the disciples after the Passover and consists of Psalm 113-118 which is sung at the three major festivals. For every devout Jew, these Psalms would be known by heart. It is probable that these Psalms, rich in praise for God, were sung in portion or in whole by Paul and Silas in the Philippian prison. 

We may get insight into this situation by reading these Psalms.

Think about the prisoners and guards who would be listening to them, what would they notice? 

Based on the next events, what would cause the prisoners to stay in the prison even though their bonds were unfastened or cause the jailer to tremble with fear?

How would the jailer have been aware of his spiritual condition and ask to be saved?

Verse 25 (continued):  The circumstances leading up to the imprisonment of Paul and Silas would have created a large commotion in Philippi. Why were Paul and Silas so mistreated for their actions in freeing the girl from her demon?

Though they were arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for doing good, Paul and Silas were filled with joy, and sand praises to God. It seemed as if nothing would make them stop praising God. Anyone can be joyful in pleasant circumstances, but real joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is available to followers of Christ in ALL circumstances. 

We never want matter for praise, if we do not want a heart. And what should put the heart of a child of God out of tune for this duty if a dungeon and a pair of stocks will not do it? (Henry)

The prisoners were listening to something they may have never heard before. There was no synagogue in Philippi, so this may be the first time that these men, and possibly women, had heard anyone praise the name of the Lord. And the fact that they were doing it while being incarcerated is the testimony to their love for God. 

This is an example to all believers about how radically different our lives should look to those who are imprisoned by fear and sin. The freedom we express in our praise to God should be a light in the darkness of this world.

Psalm 145:1-3 (ESV)

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

Verse 26: This earthquake was clearly supernatural and can be seen as a sign or wonder. The ministry of Jesus Christ was marked by signs and wonders. The signs and wonders are not what we praise but provide evidence to the One who we praise. God’s saving grace in the history of His people, Israel, is evident in their songs of worship. 

How is God’s saving grace evident in our worship?

Paul and Silas may not have been surprised by the earthquake that opened the doors of the prison and loosened their chains, but it gave them another testimony to the glory of God and added to their songs of praise. 

Psalm 118:5-7 (ESV)

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Verses 27-28: The earthquake, which accompanied, strengthened, and validated the faith of Paul and Silas, had a life-changing effect on all others that were present in the prison with them. 

The jailer knew that under Roman law if he lost the prisoners, he would have to forfeit his life for theirs and take their punishment. He assumed that the prisoners had escaped and saw suicide as his best resort out of the situation rather than face the torture that he would have received from his superiors. Knowing this, Paul called to assure him that no one had escaped and to plead for his life. How could Paul have known in that moment what the jailer intended to do?

It would have been easy for Paul and Silas to escape thinking that God had provided a miraculous jailbreak. So, what or who kept Paul and Silas in the prison?

In not escaping, they showed tremendous discernment for the will of God through the Holy Spirit. There must have also been an element of compassion for the lives of the other prisoners who were noticeably impacted as they stayed in the prison too.

Circumstances said ‘escape’, but love said ‘stay’. Even for the sake of one soul Paul and Silas stayed the course. What compelled the other prisoners to stay in the prison?

Verses 29-30: It is conceivable that this guard was one of the men who beat Paul and Silas hours earlier. Yet, something changed. It wasn’t the earthquake that shook the foundations of his soul, because it had caused him to nearly take his own life. It was the love and grace of Jesus Christ demonstrated through the lives of Paul and Silas which caused the jailer to evaluate his salvation. 

The dramatic series of events that occurred in such quick succession highlight the radical change that occurs in someone’s life, in the moment of grace, when the Lord chooses to reveal Himself. This is the greatest miracle that anyone can experience, salvation, being born again into Jesus Christ. 

Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

It was not what Paul and Silas knew that so greatly affected the jailer, but WHO they knew. Christianity is not just a religion, but a relationship. In the moment where the jailer’s eyes were opened to his spiritual poverty, he did not stop to ask about their belief structure, he was enthralled by their love and joy, even in misery, and instantly knew he wanted the kind of life they had. 

Can that be said about our lives?

We should stand out in the world we live. As the light shines from within us, people will be naturally drawn in. Our relationship with God and the Church should make others want what we have, true life. Are you prepared to make a defense for anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you? 1 Peter 3:13-16

 Verses 31-32: Paul, realizing the gravity and immediacy of the situation, expressed the gospel message at its core: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”. What is the posture of the jailer as he asked Paul about salvation? 

Surely the words of the girl declaring that Paul and Silas “are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation” along with the preceding events captured the heart of the jailer. The “how” and “what next” can come later, but Paul made the most of the moment of where salvation became real to him.

Let us not overlook the extension of this to his family. This does not mean that since he is saved his family is also now saved. It means that those in the jailer’s house who also believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved just as he is. By believing, the jailer also brings the means of salvation to his family. 

Paul and Silas proceeded to instruct him and his family in the doctrine of Christ. This reminds us of Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10. Does any part of this challenge your concept of salvation?

Verses 33-34: The same jailer who punished them and kept them under lock and key now cared for Paul and Silas. He took care of their wounds as his first act service and did so at “the same hour of the night”. The jailer’s faith is immediately shown through his love for Paul and Silas. Both parties, the jailer and his family, as well as Paul and Silas, had their wounds cleansed. 

James 2:14-17 (ESV)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

There was no hesitation for the jailer and his family to be baptized. The text says that they were baptized “at once”. Physical nourishment even had to wait. 

The transformation from suicidal fear to uncontained joy happened in a matter of hours. The Holy Spirit used the courageous praise of Paul and Silas, in terrible adversity, to shine a light in the darkness of the Philippian prison. 

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