Act 16.23-32 and Galatians 4.3-7 – The mercy of God in salvation
Posted: 8 December 2011 in Acts, Galatians

” And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 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. 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. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”

“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

I must admit that this is largely continuing the theme of the previous post.

Although the first thought of the jailor in the above passage was to commit suicide, when he thought that Paul and the other prisoners had escaped, the will of God was otherwise for him. He was able to perceive the significance of what had just happened, and to respond appropriately when the word of God was preached to him. By way of contrast, an earlier chapter in Acts tells of Peter’s escape from prison through the intervention of an angel, and on that occasion there was no opportunity for repentance given to the jailor. Instead he was soon afterwards put to death by a much displeased Herod Antipas.

In the second passage it is again God who takes the initiative in sending forth his Spirit to remake the Galatians’ hearts; thus ensuring that they respond to Jesus and come to the Father through him. The Galatians had previously been worshippers of pagan gods, so they could in no sense claim that they had earned God’s favour, or that they were deserving of their salvation. We, like the jailors, are dependent upon the mercy of a sovereignly free God, who can bestow his salvation as and when he wishes, and without being under obligation to any of us.

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